earthflytrap, mushroom

Grey Wolf appears in Iowa for the first time in 89 years - and is shot dead.

Grey wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan AP

DNA testing has confirmed that an animal shot in February in Iowa's Buchanan County was in fact a wolf, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is the first confirmed grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the US state since 1925.

Experts believe the wolf likely travelled south from Wisconsin or Minnesota, the latter of which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48.

The Iowa wolf, which was a 65-70 pound healthy female, was shot and killed in February of this year by a hunter who mistook it for a coyote. Although wolves remain a protected species in Iowa, the hunter was not cited, because he believed the animal to be a coyote and has cooperated with authorities, including bringing the wolf to them in the first place.

"I was surprised but not that surprised," DNA specialist Vince Evelsizer told the Gazette. "Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them."

After being nearly exterminated across the continental US, grey wolves have returned to many states in the last two decades, both due to reintroductions and populations migrating from Canada. Grey wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan.

During the same time wolves have been vindicated by science as key ecological species. As top predators, wolves not only manage prey populations of animals such as deer and elk, but also change their behavior, curbing unhindered grazing. For example, the wolf's return to Yellowstone National park led to a resurgence in young forest and a subsequent explosion in biodiversity.

But in many states wolves are now actively hunted and trapped. A legislative rider stripped the wolves of protection from the Endangered Species Act in 2011, the only animal to ever lose its protection in this way.

As of January this year, hunters and trappers have killed 2,567 grey wolves in the US's lower 48 states since 2011. In all, around 6,000 wolves are thought to inhabit the lower 48 now, up from a nadir of 300 before the grey wolf gained protection in 1974.

Source: Guardian Environment Network


Early Treatment Is Found to Clear H.I.V. in a 2nd Baby

BOSTON — When scientists made the stunning announcement last year that a baby born with H.I.V. had apparently been cured through aggressive drug treatment just 30 hours after birth, there was immediate skepticism that the child had been infected in the first place.

But on Wednesday, the existence of a second such baby was revealed at an AIDS conference here, leaving little doubt that the treatment works. A leading researcher said there might be five more such cases in Canada and three in South Africa.

And a clinical trial in which up to 60 babies who are born infected will be put on drugs within 48 hours is set to begin soon, another researcher added.

If that trial works — and it will take several years of following the babies to determine whether it has — the protocol for treating all 250,000 babies born infected each year worldwide will no doubt be rewritten.

“This could lead to major changes, for two reasons,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Both for the welfare of the child, and because it is a huge proof of concept that you can cure someone if you can treat them early enough.”

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child of gaia by enriana

Cave women unearth skull of unknown human ancestor

An all-woman team of spelunking scientists has retrieved hundreds of fossils from a 100-foot-deep (30-meter-deep) cave in South Africa — including the cranium from what appears to be a prehistoric humanlike creature.

Friday's retrieval of the skull was a climactic moment for the three-week expedition to the Rising Star Cave in South Africa's Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, just 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Johannesburg.

The Rising Star Expedition, backed by the National Geographic Society, was put together after a pair of recreational cavers came upon the trove of bones last month. They alerted Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand who has been behind a long string of significant finds in South Africa and serves as a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.

Berger was excited to hear that the fossilized bones could represent a new group of hominins. ("Hominins" has become the preferred term for humans and our close extinct relatives, such as Neanderthals. Scientists now use the term "hominids" to refer to those species as well as to gorillas and chimpanzees.)

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Source has videos, including the scientists being awesome and views of the inside of the cave system!

Also relevant: Video and article about the physical toll of going into these kinds of caves, from National Geographic.

Disclaimer: Please let me know if I should change anything here; it's my first post! :)

Global warming since 1997 more than twice as fast as previously estimated, new study shows

The much discussed "pause" in global warming may not exist, according to a new paper published in The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. This paper tests various methods of dealing with the gaps in surface temperature data (which occur mainly over the poles and parts of Africa) and concludes that in many places the most accurate result is obtained by hybridising surface and satellite data. Where this is done the results suggest that the poles in particular have been warming faster than previously believed.

There's a nice video below that summarises the research and results.

Full article in the Guardian newspaper here

(Disclaimer- Dr Cowtan is a friend of mine but I think the results are interesting enough to post anyway!)

Scientists Discover 11 new Alzheimer's risk genes

In what promises to be a major breakthrough in our understanding of Alzheimer's disease, an international group of scientists has discovered 11 previously unknown genes that increase people's risk of developing this most common cause of dementia.

The study, undertaken by the International Genomics Project (IGAP) and co-led by Cardiff University, Wales, UK, is published online this week in Nature Genetics.

The large group of four teams comes from 145 academic centers around the world and comprises most of the world's experts in the genetics of Alzheimer's.

They believe the discovery, which now brings the total number of genes known to raise the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease to 21, will open new avenues of research to improve our knowledge about the mechanisms that underpin the brain-wasting disease.

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  • carmy_w

16-Year-Old Egyptian Scientist Finds Way to Turn Plastic Waste Into $78 Million of Biofuel!

by Timon Singh, 07/21/12

filed under: News, Recycling / Compost, Renewable Energy

Egyptian teenagers are on a roll lately – if they’re not proposing the next-generation of space propulsion systems, then they’re figuring out how to use the country’s plastic waste for fuel! Sixteen-year-old Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad has found that an inexpensive catalyst could be used to create $78 million worth of biofuel each year. Egypt’s plastic consumption is estimated to total one million tons per year, so Azza’s proposal could transform the country’s economy, allowing it to make money from recycled plastic.

What Azza proposes is to break down the plastic polymers found in drinks bottles and general waste and turn them into biofuel feedstock. (This is the bulk raw material that generally used for producing biofuel.) It should be noted that this is not a particularly new idea, but what makes Azza stand out from the crowd is the catalyst that she is proposing. She says that she has found a high-yield catalyst called aluminosilicate, that will break down plastic waste and also produce gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, which can then be converted into ethanol.

Speaking about the breakthrough, Azza said that the technology could “provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel” including 40,000 tons per year of cracked naptha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gasses – the equivalent of $78 million in biofuel.

Azza has already been making waves in the scientific community and has been presented with the European Fusion Development Agreement award at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists. She is now looking to get her findings patented through the Egyptian Patent Office.

Unsurprisingly, Azza’s proposal has generated a lot of interest from the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, which is seeking to reduce its waste. With the amount of plastic waste in the Middle East, not to mention the world’s oceans, any breakthrough such as this is happily received.

We can’t wait to see what Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad does next and we’re sure she has a bright future ahead of her.

Via Grist/Green Prophet

Images: European Commission and  Dan Lundberg

Read more: Egyptian Teenager Unveils Plan to Turn Plastic Waste Into $78 Million of Biofuel! | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Keep calm

...and this is why fundamental research matters!

British firm brings 'God particle' technology to cancer patients

Technology from the quest to find the 'God particle' will soon be used to treat cancer patients after a British company acquired the first spin-off firm from the Large Hadron Collider.

The collaboration has slashed the cost of proton beam therapy, a type of cancer treatment that fires high-precision beams of particles at tumours, minimising damage to surrounding body tissue.
While the Large Hadron Collider is the world's biggest physics experiment, its technological advances have made it possible to shrink the size of equipment needed to accelerate protons to
the speeds needed for blasting tumours.

AIM-listed Advanced Oncotherapy has been working with a spin-off from CERN, the group behind the Large Hadron Collider, to make the technology suitable for hospitals, and on Wednesday fully acquired the technology start-up.

The advance will allow thousands more cancer patients every year to benefit from proton beam therapy, which causes much less damage to healthy tissue than the standard radiation treatments using X-rays and other types of particle beams. Proton beam therapy is especially useful when tumours are in or near vital organs.

Six UK hospitals have already put in orders for the cancer-treating devices, and the first machines will be ready to use in 2016. Currently only one centre offers the cutting-edge treatment in Britain, as the cost of existing proton beam therapy machines is so high. Two US hospitals have also agreed to buy the machine.

Advanced Oncotherapy's device, known as LIGHT, costs around £26m compared with price tags exceeding £100m for existing machines. It is also more sophisticated than its rivals, according to Dr Mike Sinclair, chief executive of Advanced Oncotherapy.

"The most important advantage is that the speed with which you can move the beam means the machine can 'paint' the tumour in three dimensions very rapidly," said Dr Sinclair.

"You can adjust the power of the beam in different parts of the tumour and you can track the movement of organs. All these advances help protect healthy tissue."

Demand for the machine, which Dr Sinclair said had "not really been promoted yet", has been so great that the company is searching for ways to increase its production capacity.

"We have to pace ourselves," said Dr Sinclair, who had only expected to install around 10 machines within the next five years when the company first agreed to buy the spin-off in April. "Demand and interest in this has been greater and quicker than we anticipated," he said, adding that the company had clinched the eight early orders "without really having started promoting" the machine.

Scientists working in the 17-mile long Large Hadron Collider, which is located beneath the
Swiss French border, announced earlier this year that they had discovered a new type of particle they believed to be the Higgs boson, the so-called 'God particle' which is believed to give other material its mass.

Keep calm

Texas man becomes an auto-brewery; gives a whole new meaning to the term "beer gut"

Man brewed beer in his gut, say researchers
Texas man who got drunk without drinking found to have severe overgrowth of yeast

CBC News Posted: Sep 20, 2013 11:12 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 20, 2013 12:19 PM ET

A Texas man who stumbled into an emergency room showing signs of drunkenness has become a medical anomaly – he was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome.

The 61-year-old man was found to have a blood alcohol level of .37, five times the legal limit in Texas. Medical staff assumed he was inebriated, but the man insisted he hadn’t had one drop of alcohol all day.
They were also told he had spent the past five years with bouts of intoxication that didn’t involve drinking booze.

In a report published in Scientific Research Publishing, U.S. researchers Barbara Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy tested out what they call “gut fermentation syndrome.”

Cordell and McCarthy were alerted about the man’s condition and a few months after his emergency room visit, they decided to test out their theory.

The man returned to the hospital and was kept there for 24 hours. During that time, he was only fed a diet of carbohydrate-rich foods. The researchers soon had their answer.

The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a common yeast. Whenever he ingested starch — pasta, bread or soda — the yeast fermented along with the sugars, turning into ethanol.

He was brewing beer in his gut.

“He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just any time,” Cordell said in an interview with NPR this week.

The man’s wife eventually bought a Breathalyzer as well.

The researchers say they suspect that antibiotics that the man took after surgery in 2004 may have destroyed his gut bacteria, allowing for the yeast to flourish.

The cure was easy. The man was put on a low-carbohydrate diet and given antifungal medication to purge him of the yeast.

Cordell and McCarthy say the syndrome is rare and say there have only been about five cases in the last 30 years.

In conclusion, they say “this is a rare syndrome but should be recognized because of the social implications such as loss of job, relationship difficulties, stigma, and even possible arrest and incarceration. It would behoove health care providers to listen more carefully to the intoxicated patient who denies ingesting alcohol.”

Source: CBC
Link to article in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine