U.N. Climate Change Chief Takes IPCC to Task

first_imgNEW DELHI–Yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expressed “regret” for having erred when it stated in a 2007 global review that Himalayan glaciers were “very likely” to melt by 2035. Now the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, the policymaking body that relies on IPCC’s findings, is weighing in on the growing controversy. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer had this to say in an e-mail to Science:”The credibility of the IPCC depends on the thoroughness with which its procedures are adhered to. The procedures have been violated in this case. That must not be allowed to happen again because the credibility of climate change policy can only be based on credible science. Nobody is denying that the Himalayan glaciers are disappearing fast as a result of climate change. What is happening now is comparable with the Titanic sinking more slowly than expected. But that does not alter the inevitable consequences, unless rigorous action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is taken.”last_img read more

Risks of New Army Biodefense Lab Downplayed, Says Academy

first_imgA National Academies study released today says the U.S Army downplayed or overlooked a number of environmental risks while planning the expansion of biocontainment facilities at the United States Army Medical Research Institute (USAMRIID) of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland. However, the findings of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study—requested by the Department of Defense at the urging of Congress—could be water under the bridge, given that USAMRIID has already begun construction toward the $680 million expansion. The Army drew up plans for the new facility years ago, and produced an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2006. The Academy review of EIS was ordered after local citizens expressed concerns about biosafety hazards stemming from the new biosafety level 3 and BSL-4 labs that would be a part of the facility. However, USAMRIID officials decided that there was no need to wait for the review to be completed. At a ground-breaking ceremony on 27 August 2009, USAMRIID Commander John Skvorak said, “I’m confident the folks who did the [environmental impact] study did a thorough job.” Not so, the NAS panel found. For example, the Army wrongly concluded that an accidental release of the Ebola virus and the bacteria that causes Q fever would lead to insignificant ground concentrations of the microbes in the surrounding area and would not be hazardous to locals. The NAS panel’s own calculations showed that concentrations would be a lot higher. “The modeling performed” by the Army to reach its conclusion “was not transparent, could not be reproduced, and was incomplete,” according to the report. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Also, the Army’s EIS “did not adequately document or characterize individual risk of exposure or infection, nor did it consider potential exposures to workers and others on the base itself or how the spread of a pathogen would be affected by population size and density,” according to a press release NAS issued about the study. Despite uncovering these problems, the panel gave high marks to the safety procedures currently in place at USAMRIID, and didn’t recommend that the Army redo EIS. “The committee has a high degree of confidence that the new USAMRIID facility will have the appropriate and effective physical security, biosurety program, and biosafety operating practices and procedures in place to protect its workers and the public from exposures to pathogens, and any new pathogens, studied in its laboratories,” the report says.last_img read more

Sensitive Males Provide Clues to Mind Reading in Birds

first_imgThe male Eurasian jay is an accommodating fellow. When his mate has been feasting steadily on mealworm larvae, he realizes that she’d now prefer to dine on wax moth larvae, which he feeds her himself. The finding adds to a small but growing number of studies that show that some animals have something like the human ability to understand what others are thinking. “It’s great for a first test of this ability in birds,” says Thomas Bugnyar, a cognitive biologist at the University of Vienna in Austria who was not involved in the work. Scientists still debate about whether even our closest ape relatives can attribute an unseen, mental desire to another; some continue to argue that this is a peculiarly human talent. “But some of us think that some aspects of this ability should be found here and there in different species,” Bugnyar says, “and so it is good to have this jay study to compare” with the other studies on primates, humans, and human children. Male Eurasian jays feed their mates during courtship displays, says Ljerka Ostojić, a comparative psychologist and postdoc at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom who led the study. Because of that behavior, Ostojić and her colleagues thought that the jays might be good subjects for testing whether these birds understand their mates’ desires. The group’s previous research had shown that Eurasian jays and scrub jays can plan for the future. “It is commonly thought that any action animals take is determined solely by whatever they want at that moment,” Ostojić says, “but the jays also plan for needs in the future.” Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) In the new study, the scientists set out to see if the jays understood that other jays also had needs or desires—and that these were not necessarily the same as their own. Ostojić and colleagues put seven mated male-female pairs of jays through three experiments in an aviary at the university. The scientists measured how much food the birds needed to eat to reach a point of satiation. The jays normally eat a diet of soaked dog biscuits, cheese, seeds, nuts, and fruit. But when given a choice, both males and females prefer mealworm larvae or wax moth larvae over their daily fare. The jays also have more of a hankering for wax moth larvae than mealworms. But, the scientists showed that when the birds have been prefed wax moth larvae, they readily switched to the larval mealworms. “This tells us that they were ‘tired’ of that food and wanted the other one,” Ostojić says. In the tests, the male and female pairs were then placed in adjacent compartments that were joined by a screened window. The females were given either wax moth larvae or mealworm larvae, while the males ate nothing but the maintenance diet. In one set of experiments, the male could see what his female ate through the window; but in another set, the window was covered, so that he could not watch her. Next, the experimenters gave each male 20 opportunities to choose between feeding his mate a wax moth larvae or a mealworm larvae. “If he is responding to her needs and what she might want next—and not to what he might want to eat—then he should choose the food she hasn’t had,” Ostojić explains. And that’s exactly what the males did—if they had watched their mates eating wax moth larvae, they passed them mealworm larvae instead, and vice versa. But when the males did not know what their females had dined on (because the window was covered), they fed them randomly from the two types of larvae, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “That really surprised me, because I thought the male would pick up on some behavior from the female, something that indicated what she wanted,” Ostojić says. It was only when a male had observed his partner eating—and so had some idea that she was tired of eating wax moth larvae, for instance—that he selectively chose what to feed her next. “It’s a super cool finding, and suggests that the male birds are being more sensitive to the females than many human husbands,” says Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. “It’s a new way of looking at the big picture of what other species know about mental states by using this cooperative, food-sharing behavior,” Bugnyar adds. “It won’t settle the debate, but it gives us a new method—and new species—to tackle this problem.”last_img read more

Chinese Researcher Working in U.S. Pleads Guilty to Computer Violation

first_imgA former medical researcher at a Wisconsin cancer center yesterday pleaded guilty to one charge of “accessing a computer without authorization” in a U.S. district court in Milwaukee. The researcher, Huajun Zhao, allegedly stole a potential cancer drug from the lab and originally faced a charge of economic espionage, but that charge was ultimately dropped.Zhao obtained his Ph.D. in China and came to the United States for postdoctoral training, first at the University of Cincinnati and then at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. He had accepted a faculty position at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and was preparing to leave the country before he was arrested in late March.After dropping the espionage charge, federal prosecutors charged Zhao in April with computer tampering and lying to a federal agent. Zhao pleaded not guilty to both, but on 2 July, he reached a plea agreement deal with prosecutors on the computer access charge, which replaced the earlier charges. The violation carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Zhao’s lawyer declined a request for comment. Sentencing is set for 6 August.last_img read more

Reversing the legacy of junk science in the courtroom

first_img G. Grullón/Science On a September afternoon in 2000, a man named Richard Green was shot and wounded in his neighborhood south of Boston. About a year later, police found a loaded pistol in the yard of a nearby house. A detective with the Boston Police Department fired the gun multiple times in a lab and compared the minute grooves and scratches that the firing pin and the interior of the gun left on its cartridge casings with those discovered on casings found at the crime scene. They matched, he would later say at a pretrial hearing, “to the exclusion of every other firearm in the world.”The detective’s finding might have bolstered federal racketeering charges for two alleged gang members implicated in various crimes on that street. But the defendants’ lawyers challenged its admissibility. The patterns on the cartridges from the lab weren’t identical to those from the crime scene, they pointed out. So how could the detective be sure that the shots hadn’t been fired from another gun? Read more of our special package that examines the hurdles and advances in the field of forensicsSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The short answer, if you ask any statistician, is that he couldn’t. There was some unknown chance that a different gun struck a similar pattern. But for decades, forensic examiners have sometimes claimed in court that close but not identical ballistic markings could conclusively link evidence to a suspect—and judges and juries have trusted their expertise. Examiners  have made similar statements for other forms of so-called pattern evidence, such as fingerprints, shoeprints, tire tracks, and bite marks.But such claims are ill-founded, a committee at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded in 2009. “No forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source,” the panel wrote. In other words: Judges and juries were sometimes sending people to jail based on bogus science.When somebody tells you, ‘I think this is a match or not a match,’ they ought to tell you an estimate of the statistical uncertainty about it.Constantine Gatsonis, Brown University statisticianThe committee’s report sent shockwaves through the legal system, and forensic science is now grinding toward reform. A series of expert working groups, assembled by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Justice, has begun to gather and endorse standards for collecting and evaluating different kinds of evidence. What is needed, says Constantine Gatsonis, a statistician at Brown University, who chaired the NAS committee, is statistical rigor. “When somebody tells you, ‘I think this is a match or not a match,’ they ought to tell you an estimate of the statistical uncertainty about it,” he says.Last May, NIST awarded $20 million to a team of about 30 statisticians and legal professionals to help develop tools for analyzing the strength of an apparent match. Called the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), it will collaborate with NIST statisticians to develop statistical methods that describe how strongly a shoeprint in the dirt links the owner of a certain pair of sneakers to a crime scene, for example, or how many fingerprints other than the suspect’s might have left a similar pattern on a murder weapon.  The group is staring down a problem of immense complexity. Pattern evidence has historically relied on the trained eyes and subjective judgments of human examiners, not on rigorous statistical analysis. It’s not known how much variation exists in the world’s population of shoes, guns, or fingerprints, or just how much similarity between two patterns is enough to suggest a common source. “I know some people think we are not going to be able to do this, [that] you cannot put a probability on some types of evidence,” says Alicia Carriquiry, a statistician at Iowa State University in Ames who heads CSAFE. “And they may be right, but we need to try.” Many forensic disciplines have been plagued with high-profile errors. An ongoing review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) microscopic hair comparisons, in which forensic scientists look for distinguishing features such as the thickness, texture, and pigment in a hair strand, has revealed erroneous statements in more than 90% of cases before 2000 in which  FBI examiners gave testimony. Often, analysts said that hair could be associated with a specific person—which hair analysis cannot prove. At least five of the cases reviewed so far ended in convictions later reversed with DNA evidence.The analysis of bite mark patterns has been shown to be so weak scientifically that a state commission in Texas recently recommended banning it from the courtroom. In one high-profile case, a man named Ray Krone was convicted of murder after prosecutors used bite marks on the victim’s neck and breast to link Krone to the crime; he served 10 years in prison before DNA evidence showed that he was innocent. Even more-established methods, such as fingerprint comparison, have faced criticism. Many fingerprint analysts use standard procedures to mark different levels of detail in a suspect’s fingerprint and in a “latent print” left at a crime scene. But making a so-called individualization—a conclusion that the prints are from the same source—is “where it gets a little fuzzy,” says Glenn Langenburg, a forensic scientist and fingerprint examiner at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul. After examiners look at enough prints known to be from the same source and from different sources, “their brain gets calibrated” to some internal threshold of similarity, he says. The fuzziness shows in their findings. One study of 169 fingerprint examiners found 7.5% false negatives—in which examiners concluded that two prints from the same person came from different people—and 0.1% false positives, where two prints were incorrectly said to be from the same source. When some of the examiners were retested on some of the same prints after 7 months, they repeated only about 90% of their exclusions and 89% of their individualizations. Testing examiner accuracy using known samples can give the judge or jury a sense of general error rates in a field, but it can’t describe the level of uncertainty around a specific piece of evidence. Right now, only DNA identification includes that measure of uncertainty. (DNA analyses are based on 13 genetic variants, or alleles, that are statistically independent, and known to vary widely among individuals.) Mixtures of genetic material from multiple people can complicate the analysis, but DNA profiling is “a relatively easy statistical problem to solve,” says Nicholas Petraco, an applied mathematician at City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Pattern evidence doesn’t operate under the same rules, he says. “What’s an allele on a tool mark?”; “What’s an allele on a hair or fiber?” To estimate how frequently a given feature occurs in pattern evidence, researchers will need large databases. Carriquiry and her CSAFE colleagues will begin by exploring digital collections, such as images of bullet and casing marks assembled by NIST researchers, and one of the world’s largest collections of crime scene shoeprints, kept by the Israeli police force. The team must also decide what aspects of an image are relevant for comparison. For example, sole patterns indicating the brand and model of a shoe may not be as informative for a comparison as acquired characteristics such as damage or wear patterns.A large database and a set of rules for feature selection could then feed a statistical model that describes how unusual the set of similarities between two samples really is, relative to similarities between two randomly selected samples from the population. Ideally, says Carriquiry, the model would produce a “likelihood ratio.” That would allow an examiner to say, for example, that the similarities between two fingerprints are 10,000 times more likely to occur if they came from the same finger than if they came from different ones. For fingerprints, that kind of assessment seems within reach. A model under development by forensic scientist Cedric Neumann and statistician Christopher Saunders at South Dakota State University in Brookings can estimate a likelihood ratio for prints once a trained examiner marks their similarities (see diagram, above). The approach still isn’t quite ready for use in court, says Neumann, in part because its results vary too widely depending on which features an examiner selects as relevant. Tighter standards for examiners could resolve the problem, he says.For other types of evidence, the approach may never work, some scientists say. For instance, a relevant database of shoeprints might not be practical, says Lesley Hammer, a forensic scientist in Anchorage, Alaska, who specializes in footwear and tire track analysis. The database would have to keep up with an ever-changing market of brand-name and counterfeit products, document distinctive features like wear or damage patterns, and possibly even account for regional variations in shoe frequency—the likelihood of a snow boot turning up in Hawaii versus North Dakota, for example. What statisticians manage to compute with their new models will have little value if forensic examiners, jurors, judges, and lawyers don’t know how to interpret statistical claims. That’s why CSAFE collaborator Brandon Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, has begun to study how jurors perceive a forensic examiner’s testimony.In a 2013 study, for instance, online participants had to rate the likelihood of a defendant’s guilt in a hypothetical robbery based on different kinds of testimony from a fingerprint examiner. It didn’t seem to matter whether they were simply told that a print at the scene “matched” or was “individualized” to the defendant, or whether the examiner offered further justification—the chance of an error is “so remote that it is considered to be a practical impossibility,” for example. In all those cases, jurors rated the likelihood of guilt at about 4.5 on a 7-point scale. “As a lawyer, I would have thought the specific wording would have mattered more than it did,” Garrett says. But if subjects were told that the print could have come from someone else, they seemed to discount the fingerprint evidence altogether. “When Neumann and his colleagues tested out their fingerprint likelihood ratios on mock jurors, participants recognized that making an “identification” was fundamentally different from providing a probability statement. But they didn’t seem to distinguish between a strong likelihood ratio (one in 100,000) and a weaker one (one in 1000) when estimating the probability that a suspect was the source of a print. Neumann suspects that numbers can still be useful for describing testimony, but that lawyers and cognitive psychologists will have to team up to figure out the best presentation.The final decision about what kinds of statements jurors can ponder, though, is up to judges, who often confer with lawyers and forensic examiners to decide what evidence is admissible. CSAFE aims to reach all these players through a campaign to boost statistical literacy. Last week, the statisticians conducted training for practitioners across Florida crime labs at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and they intend to launch similar courses around the United States. Some judges are already pretty savvy about statistics. In the Boston racketeering case, federal district court judge Nancy Gertner found the detective’s conclusion that only one gun on the entire planet could have produced the imprints on the bullet cartridges “preposterous.” She believed the evidence should have been excluded completely. But Gertner—now a professor at Harvard University—feared that an appeals court would reverse that move, so she “reluctantly” ruled that the detective could describe ways in which the bullet casings looked similar, but not conclude that they came from the same pistol. Ultimately, a jury said there was no evidence of a racketeering operation; Gertner cleared the defendants of the more serious federal charges and their cases were moved to state court.What’s troubling, Gertner says, is that when judges accept junk science, an appeals court rarely overrules them. Attaching a numerical probability to evidence, as CSAFE hopes to do, “would certainly be interesting,” she says. But even a standard practice of critically evaluating evidence would be a step forward. “The pattern now is that the judges who care about these issues are enforcing them, and the judges who don’t care about these issues are not.” G. Grullón/Science last_img read more

Divorce rates double when people start watching porn

first_imgBut is pornography use actually causing the problems, or is it merely a symptom of an already unhappy marriage? Perry believes the data show causation. “We’re pretty confident, based on the statistical analysis that we did,” Perry says. “We are nearing where we can say there’s a directional effect.”They note that when women stop watching porn, their divorce rates drop from 18% back down to 6%. The effect was less apparent in men, however. Most of the men surveyed—between 55% and 70%—watched porn to begin with, and very few stopped once they started. Despite these weaknesses, Bridges says that Perry’s explanation is still the most likely.In addition to gender differences, the study revealed differences in porn use and divorce in different demographic groups. The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to get a divorce after starting to view porn. In contrast, porn and divorce showed a weaker link in people who attended an organized worship service at least once a week and said they were religious. The latter finding surprised the researchers, who initially thought that that adding pornography into more religious marriages would lead to higher rates of divorce.Despite the new findings, Perry says he’s not advocating a ban on pornography. “My colleague and I are trying to report what we think are interesting and relevant results, and [we] are not trying to … contribute to a moral crusade against porn use,” he says. “Information is a positive thing, and [we] hope we can contribute in that way.” There’s an oft-quoted rule on the internet: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” Even if that’s an exaggeration, there’s no question that men and women have been consuming more sexually explicit content since the world went online. Now, a new study looks at how this consumption might affect marriage in the United States. The study, a working paper presented this week at the 2016 American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, suggests that men and women who begin to consume pornography partway through their marriages are more likely to get a divorce than their non–porn-consuming peers.The study has not been peer reviewed, but it raises “no major methodological flags” and does a good job of considering alternative explanations for the findings, says pornography expert Ana Bridges, a psychologist at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who was not involved in the work.Previous studies on porn and marriage have suggested that consuming sexually explicit material isn’t good for marital health. But many of these studies have been based on cross-sectional data that give only a snapshot of porn use and marital happiness. Now, researchers have been able to analyze how pornography impacts marriage over multiple years.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The new paper uses data from the 2006–2014 General Social Survey, a regular poll that asks thousands of Americans for their opinions on everything from national spending priorities to morality. Because the same people are polled several years in a row, researchers can track how attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles change over time. To measure pornography use, the survey asked respondents—who also reported their relationship status—whether they had watched an X-rated movie in the past year. “There’s no perfect pornography question, but this one comes closest to the kind of question you ask that carries over time,” says study author and sociologist Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma (OU) in Norman. Out of 5698 respondents, 1681 said they had watched an X-rated movie and 373 reported viewing one for the first time during the survey period.Analyzing the data, Perry and his OU colleague Cyrus Schleifer found that people who started watching porn were more likely to split with their partners during the course of the survey. For men, the chance of divorce went from 5% to 10%. For women, that number jumped from 6% to 18%.last_img read more

Print-on-demand bone could quickly mend major injuries

first_imgIf you shatter a bone in the future, a 3D printer and some special ink could be your best medicine. Researchers have created what they call “hyperelastic bone” that can be manufactured on demand and works almost as well as the real thing, at least in monkeys and rats. Though not ready to be implanted in humans, bioengineers are optimistic that the material could be a much-needed leap forward in quickly mending injuries ranging from bones wracked by cancer to broken skulls.“This is a neat way to overcome the challenges we face in generating bone replacements,” says Jos Malda, a biomaterials engineer from Utrecht University in the Netherlands who was not involved in the work. “The scaffold is simpler to make than others and it offers more benefits.”Surgeons currently replace shattered or missing bones with a number of things. The most common option is an autograft, where a piece of bone is taken from a patient’s own body, usually from a hip or a rib, and implanted where it’s needed elsewhere in that same patient’s skeleton. Surgeons prefer autografts because they’re real bone complete with stem cells that give rise to cartilage and bone cells to provide extra support for the new graft. (Humans can’t regrow entire skeletons from scratch with stem cells, but existing bone can signal stem cells where to grow and what to grow into.) What’s more, because the new bone replacement comes from a patient’s own body, there’s no risk of immune rejection. But only so much of a person’s skeleton is available for grafting, and doing so tacks on another painful surgery and recovery for the patient.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Another bone replacement option is creating a scaffold for bone to grow on. These scaffolds, made of both natural and synthetic materials, work like the framing of a building. When inserted into the body, stem cells latch onto the structure and differentiate into cells that start to build bone, much as construction workers assemble walls, floors, and glass around a skyscraper’s steel girders.Or, at least, that’s how it should work—unlike in an autograft, stem cells don’t always turn into the needed bone or cartilage because of the scaffolds’ material makeup. Researchers have gotten stem cells to grow on a ceramic material called calcium phosphate (CaP), but this scaffold is stiff and brittle, making it difficult to implant into patients. To make matters worse, the immune system occasionally sees these scaffolds as foreign and attacks them, preventing any bone growth at all. And if a scaffold is to be used to regenerate small bones, such as many of those found in the face, for example, doctors worry that it would take too much time and money to make them from CaP.Researchers at Northwestern University, Evanston, in Illinois are working on a material to remedy all of these issues. Their hyperelastic bone is a type of scaffold made up of hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring mineral that exists in our bones and teeth, and a biocompatible polymer called polycaprolactone, and a solvent. Hydroxyapatite provides strength and offers chemical cues to stem cells to create bone. The polycaprolactone polymer adds flexibility, and the solvent sticks the 3D-printed layers together as it evaporates during printing. The mixture is blended into an ink that is dispensed by the printer, layer by layer, into exact shapes matching the bone that needs to be replaced. The idea is, a patient would come in with a nasty broken bone—say, a shattered jaw—and instead of going through painful autograft surgeries or waiting for a custom scaffold to be manufactured, he or she could be x-rayed and a 3D-printed hyperelastic bone scaffold could be printed that same day. “We’re printing flexible scaffolds that will encourage bone to grow through and around them,” says Ramille Shah, a material science engineer and co-author on the study.To test their material, the team first tested their 3D-printed scaffold as a material to fuse spinal vertebrae in rats. Their goal was to see whether their material could lock two adjacent vertebrae in place as well as other scaffolds commonly used to treat spinal injury patients. Eight weeks after the Northwestern researchers implanted the hyperelastic bone, they found that new blood vessels had grown into their scaffold—a necessary step to keep bone-forming tissue alive—and calcified bone started to form from the rats’ existing stem cells. The combination fused the vertebrae more efficiently than the controls that received either a bone graft from a donor or nothing at all, the researchers report today in Science Translational Medicine.The researchers also used hyperelastic bone to repair a macaque monkey’s damaged skull. After 4 weeks with a hyperelastic bone implant, the scaffold was infiltrated with blood vessels and some calcified bone. Equally important, the macaque didn’t suffer from any adverse biological effects, such as inflammation or infection, that many synthetic implants can cause.Because the ink materials—that is, hydroxyapatite along with the polymer and solvent—are commonly used in biomedical engineering labs, Malda says, hyperelastic bone would be cheap to print. What’s more, the researchers were able to create the scaffolds lightning-quick by 3D-printing standards, in less than 5 hours for each one. That means future scaffolds could be printed to exact specs, which would be useful in facial reconstruction, or printed into sheets that surgeons could cut and paste into the shape they want, Shah says. “The sky’s the limit for this material’s applications.”Still, the work needs to be replicated many more times before being implemented in humans, says Scott Hollister, a biomedical engineer at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who was not involved with the study. If it is, that could be a boon for patients around the globe. “The ability to easily print customizable implants is a big advance and would offer a lot of opportunities in areas from plastic surgery to tumor removal and repair.”last_img read more

New HHMI efforts to help young scientists highlight ongoing diversity challenge

first_imgIn a bid to move the needle, HHMI next year will select 15 inaugural Gray fellows. (Applications are due 15 February.) Each will receive $80,000 a year for up to 4 years as a postdoc, and then $270,000 a year for up to 4 years after they are hired into a tenure-track academic position. Candidates must be part of a group underrepresented in the biomedical sciences, a definition that includes those who are economically disadvantaged. (HHMI has committed up to $20 million for the first cohort of Gray fellows, and holds open the possibility of additional cohorts.)If all goes well, a decade from now those selected as Gray fellows might be well positioned to compete for NIH grants and other awards. But the list of HHMI’s 84 new faculty scholars—each of whom has been an independent investigator for less than a decade, and will get up to $1.5 million over 5 years to pursue their research dreams—is a reminder of how hard it is now for scientists from underrepresented groups, or less prestigious institutions, to rise above the pack. Only one of the scholars is black, and four have Latino backgrounds. And although the scholars come from 43 institutions, a majority (44) work at just nine schools—led by Harvard University, with a whopping 10 winners. Four other research powerhouses—Stanford, Princeton, and Yale universities and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center—each boast five winners, and both the University of California, San Francisco, and The Rockefeller University are home to four scholars. None of the scholars come from institutions that educate large numbers of minority students.None of that is surprising, given that diversity was not a factor in selecting the winners—as is often the case in prestigious scientific fellowships. “The primary criteria were the quality of the proposal and whether the researchers could benefit from this additional money,” says HHMI’s Janet Shaw, who runs the Faculty Scholars Program. The scholars already have “terrific jobs” based on “their brilliant work as postdocs,” she adds, and HHMI hopes that its funding will let them take one more step up the ladder toward a “transformative career in biomedical research.”HHMI expects to spend $83 million on the first of what it hopes will be three cohorts of faculty scholars. (Some are jointly funded with the Bill & Melinda Gates and Simons foundations.) In fact, the quality of the first round of applicants—some 1400 from more than 200 institutions—led it to expand its initial plan to select just 70 winners.HHMI eliminated some 90% of the proposals after a vetting by outside experts, and researchers still in the running submitted a 15-minute narrated slide show that was judged without any additional input. “It was really challenging to present your vision of science” in that format, says one of the winners, plant biologist José Dinneny, who will receive $1.25 million.Dinneny’s lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, studies the novel mechanisms that plants use to obtain water to cope with environmental stresses like drought and salinity. He says the HHMI funding gives him “the freedom to pursue ideas at the leading edge.” Federal agencies “are extremely conservative,” he adds, “and the project has to be nearly complete by the time you submit a proposal.”Dinneny grew up in central California, and entered UC Berkeley 1 year after the state eliminated affirmative action in higher education. Although Dinneny believes that funding agencies need to do more to broaden participation in academic research, he says HHMI has “a tough balancing act. Their first goal is to fund the best ideas.” And minority scientists sometimes shy away from competitive programs like the faculty scholars, he adds, because they feel they won’t be successful. “As a Hispanic, I know there is a lot of self-selection,” he notes.At the same time, Dinneny is pleased that HHMI is starting a program for postdocs aimed explicitly at increasing diversity. “There simply aren’t enough minorities going into research careers,” he says. Last week the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), one of the nation’s largest biomedical research charities, offered news about two programs intended to help early-career scientists. One press release announced a new effort to create a more diverse biomedical research workforce through fellowships to postdoctoral students who are black, Latino, or from other underrepresented groups. The other named 84 young faculty members who had just won a prestigious grant aimed at bolstering the next generation of scientific superstars.The timing of the two statements from the Bethesda, Maryland, nonprofit was coincidental. Put side-by-side, however, they unintentionally highlighted the continuing difficulties that the biomedical research community faces in diversifying—both its demographic makeup and also the mix of institutions that tend to win a lion’s share of prestigious awards.  The new Gray fellows effort, named after longtime HHMI trustee Hanna Gray, targets increasing the diversity of postdocs planning academic careers. It’s far from the first attempt by public and private research funders to improve the chronic paucity of blacks, Latinos, and other underrepresented groups in the academic biomedical workforce. But those programs have had remarkably little impact on the demographics of those who receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

How states voted on science-related initiatives

first_imgMixed results on biomedical research funding and public-health initiativesIn California, voters approved Proposition 56, which will raise cigarette taxes by $2 per pack and put the money toward public health programs, including cardiovascular and pulmonary disease research. But in Colorado, voters turned back Amendment 72, which would have also invested some revenues in research. And in Montana, voters said no to Initiative 181, which would have spent $20 million over 10 years on a biomedical research authority for disease research grants, especially neurological ones.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Oregon approves wildlife measure Voters, by a 69.4% to 30.6% margin, approved Measure 100, which will seek to crack down on wildlife trafficking by banning sales and purchases of animal parts from a dozen species: elephants, rhinoceroses, whales, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, pangolins, sea turtles, sharks (except the spiny dogfish), and rays. The measure—which has parallels with Washington state’s successful 2015 measure backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen—does include several exemptions, including for “the donation of a covered animal species part or product to a bona fide scientific or education institution for scientific or educational purposes.”Controversial solar measure loses in FloridaAmendment 1 came up well short of the necessary 60%-plus-1 support for approval, with only 50.8% of voters saying yes. The measure, supported by major electric utilities, was framed as encouraging homeowners to install solar panels while not forcing nonsolar households to subsidize it. But it came under fire from consumer activists and climate activists (including former Vice President Al Gore), who argued that deceptive language in the amendment would have effectively barred Floridians from selling their excess home-generated solar power back to utilities. Additionally, Floridians already have the right to install their own solar panels.Pot wins high marksFinally, marijuana had a good day at the ballot box. Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved measures legalizing recreational marijuana and regulating or taxing it to various degrees. Only in Arizona was recreational marijuana turned back. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota voted to legalize marijuana for certain medicinal uses, and Montana voted to expand its 2004 medical marijuana law. Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the presidential election on Tuesday helped usher in a new era of Republican rule in Washington. But voters also weighed in on several science-related state ballot items. Here’s a roundup of the results:Carbon tax loses in Washington Voters soundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have established the nation’s first-ever carbon tax in exchange for a sales tax cut and working families tax rebate. Initiative 732, which got just 41.1% support, sought to appeal to stakeholders and voters across ideological lines by being revenue-neutral. But it took friendly fire from many environmental, labor, and social justice activists for not investing revenues in clean energy and in vulnerable communities and communities of color that need help preparing for climate change.last_img read more

Bringing extinct species back from the dead could hurt—not help—conservation efforts

first_imgScience is getting closer to bringing back extinct animals like the woolly mammoth, but a new analysis of the economics of de-extinction suggests that conservation funding is better spent on the living. By David ShultzFeb. 27, 2017 , 12:15 PM Bringing extinct species back from the dead could hurt—not help—conservation efforts Ten days ago, science news media outlets around the world reported that a Harvard University–led team was on the verge of resurrecting the wooly mammoth. Although many articles oversold the findings, the concept of de-extinction—bringing extinct animals back to life through genetic engineering—is beginning to move from the realm of science fiction to reality. Now, a new analysis of the economics suggests that our limited conservation funding would be better spent elsewhere.“The conversation thus far has been focused on whether or not we can do this. Now, we are progressing toward the: ‘Holy crap, we can—so should we?’ phase,” says Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the study. “It is like we’ve just about put the last stiches in [Frankenstein’s monster], and there is this moment of pause as we consider whether it is actually a good idea to flip the switch and electrify the thing to life.”To estimate how much it would cost to sustain a population of de-extincted animals, researchers used databases from New South Wales, Australia, and New Zealand that methodically track the cost of conserving endangered, but still living, species. This allowed the scientists to extrapolate the cost of preserving resurrected animals that are similar to living analogs. The cost of caring for a population of resurrected mammoths, for instance, should be similar to the cost of caring for the endangered Asian elephant. The approach completely ignores the large up-front cost of developing and using the genetic and biological technologies to actually resurrect the species. So it underestimates the actual cost of de-extinction programs, the authors say. Even so, the results look grim.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The team considered two different scenarios: one in which the government assumes responsibility for the conservation of resurrected species, and another where private companies sponsor the project. In the first scenario, the money needed to maintain the population of resurrected animals comes directly out of the government’s conservation budget, meaning all existing conservation efforts lose some funding. The result, the team calculates, would be an overall loss of biodiversity—roughly two species would go extinct for every one that could be revived.In the second scenario, where the costs are absorbed by private interests and don’t detract from the already limited conservation budget, the researchers calculate that we could see a small uptick in biodiversity, especially for animals for which the necessary conservation tools and techniques are already being used to conserve existing endangered species. Reviving the Forbes’ snipe (Coenocorypha chathamica), a long-billed bird native to New Zealand that went extinct sometime around the 19th century, for example, would create a net biodiversity gain in New Zealand because many of the conservation practices needed by the snipe are already being carried out for other species living on its former habitat of Chatham Island.However, the results also show that if instead of focusing the money on de-extinction, one allocated it into existing conservation programs for living species, we would see a much bigger increase in biodiversity—roughly two to eight times more species saved. In other words, the money would be better spent elsewhere to prevent existing species from going extinct in the first place, the team reports today in Nature Ecology and Evolution.There’s always the chance that a wealthy individual or company will get excited by the charisma of de-extinction and choose to fund such a project. If this money would otherwise not have gone to conservation programs of any type, then it would represent a small win for the planet’s biodiversity, the authors say.“If that billionaire is only interested in bringing back a species from the dead, power to him or her,” says first author Joseph Bennett, a biologist at Carleton University in Ottawa. “However, if that billionaire is couching it in terms of it being a biodiversity conservation, then that’s disingenuous. There are plenty of species out there on the verge of extinction now that could be saved with the same resources.”For McCauley, who recently published a set of guidelines for selecting de-extinction species that would do the most good for the ecosystem, the new research is sobering. “The dominant message in this analysis appears to be that doing de-extinction en masse would be counterproductive,” he says. “If this is ethically messy, ecologically awkward, and now also really expensive—I’m out.”Conceptually, de-extinction is certainly still cool. But as a conservation tool in a world of shoestring budgets, Bennett sums up the paper’s findings succinctly: “It’s better to spend the money on the living than the dead.” Mauricio Antón last_img read more

Ghostly particle caught in polar ice ushers in new way to look at the universe

first_img If astronomers are right, a ghostly particle that lit up an instrumented swath of ice beneath the South Pole on 22 September last year was a messenger from a distant galaxy. The particle was a neutrino, electrically neutral and almost massless, which means its path could be traced back to the extragalactic event that created it. Cued by IceCube, the Antarctic detector, the orbiting Fermi Gammaray Space Telescope found that the neutrino likely came from a far off blazar, a hugely bright source of radiation powered by a supermassive black hole.Astronomers have long been tantalized by the prospect of using neutrinos, which move at almost the speed of light and rarely interact with other matter, to learn about violent cosmic events. The new finding, reported today in Science, could mark the founding event of neutrino astronomy. The detection also triggered a powerful example of another new trend, multimessenger astronomy, in which telescopes and other instruments studied the flaring blazar in all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma rays to radio waves.A neutrino-producing blazar could also help solve a decades-old mystery in astronomy: Where do the extremely high energy protons and other nuclei that occasionally bombard Earth come from? Known as ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays, these particles have a million times more energy than has ever been produced in an earthbound particle accelerator, but what boosts them to such colossal energies is unknown. Suspects have included neutron stars, gamma ray bursts, hypernovae, and the radiation-spewing black holes at the center of some galaxies, but whatever the source, high energy neutrinos are a likely byproduct. If the IceCube team is right, blazars could be the first confirmed source of these cosmic rays.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Researchers note, however, that the link between the neutrino and the blazar isn’t rock solid. “It’s a very mouthwatering observation and I very much hope it will be confirmed,” says Pierre Sokolsky of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “If their interpretation of those observations is correct it will be revolutionary, extraordinary,” says Eli Waxman of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. But, he adds, “an extraordinary result needs extraordinary support, and the support is not quite extraordinary yet.”Completed in 2010, the IceCube neutrino detector snares these elusive particles in a cubic kilometer of Antarctic ice. When a neutrino hits a nucleus in the frozen water molecules, other particles fly off in recoil; as they decelerate, they emit light called Cherenkov radiation, which some of IceCube’s 5160 light detectors may pick up. Based on the location, timing, and brightness of the detected light, researchers can reconstruct the path and energy of the neutrino. GRANT ET AL., SCIENCE, VOL. 361, 147 (2018) ADAPTED BY C. BICKEL/SCIENCE Ghostly particle caught in polar ice ushers in new way to look at the universe The IceCube Laboratory at the South Pole operates a neutrino detector 1.5 kilometers beneath the ice. By Daniel CleryJul. 12, 2018 , 11:00 AM A polar light show with cosmic origins The detection, and computed path, of neutrino IceCube-170922A. Each circle represents one of IceCube’s spherical light detectors in the Antarctic ice: Size indicates the brightness detected, from earliest (in dark blue), to latest (in yellow). Most of the neutrinos detected by IceCube originated nearby, spawned by cosmic rays hitting Earth’s upper atmosphere. IceCube researchers eliminate those using a variety of methods, leaving the very few, very high energy neutrinos, above 30 trillion electron volts (TeV). In 2013, the IceCube team first revealed a handful of such events, arguing that their high energies and other properties showed they must have come from outside of our galaxy. The detector continues to bag about a dozen high energy neutrinos a year; when it gets a clean track with a well-defined direction, other telescopes scramble to see if there is an obvious cosmic source—until now, without success.In 2016 IceCube’s operators set up an alert service, with the hope of getting more telescopes at different wavelengths involved in the hunt. Then, last September, IceCube got lucky. A detected neutrino, dubbed IceCube-170922A and calculated to have an energy of 290 TeV, offered a relatively clear track back into space. An automatic alert went out less than a minute later.Several observatories initially didn’t see anything unusual. Six days later, the Fermi team reported the satellite had found that a blazar, known as TXS 0506+056 and just 0.1° away from the neutrino track suggested by IceCube, was especially bright, having started flaring a few months earlier. Soon, more than a dozen telescopes had studied the blazar. Blazars, like quasars, are distant cosmic beacons powered by supermassive black holes, which generate intense radiation and fire jets of particles from their poles. Blazars are exceptionally bright, astronomers believe, because their jets happen to be aimed straight at Earth.IceCube and the other observers estimate the probability that the neutrino path and the blazar coincided by chance is roughly one in 740. Physicists and astronomers, however, aren’t usually convinced that two phenomena are connected until there’s no more than a one in 3.5 million, or 5 sigma, probability of a coincidence.IceCube researchers also went back through almost a decade of data to see whether an excess of high-energy neutrinos had streamed from the same location before. They found a period of 150 days in late 2014 and early 2015 when IceCube detected around 13 more neutrinos than normal from that spot. It’s not yet clear whether TXS 0506+056 was flaring at that time, but “the archival event was much more interesting” than the recent detection, says IceCube Principal Investigator Francis Halzen of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.Sokolsky and Waxman agree that IceCube’s September 2017 detection should strengthen the project’s longstanding bid to massively increase the size of the instrument, which would also increase how many neutrinos it can detect and improve its pointing accuracy. Since IceCube was built, the team has found the ice is clearer than previously thought, so they believe they can make IceCube 10 times bigger while only doubling the number of light detectors, matching the $280 million cost of its original construction. The team is about to start experiments to test that. “With a 10-times-bigger detector, the answer [to where high energy neutrons come from] would be clear and obvious,” Waxman says. Side view 125 m Nanoseconds 0 500 1000 2000 2500 1500 3000 MARTIN WOLF, ICECUBE/NSF last_img read more

Watch a robot hand learn to manipulate objects just like a human hand

first_img OpenAI A 5-year-old can tie their shoelaces, but robot hands aren’t nearly so nimble. A new system, however, has greatly improved their dexterity.Hard-coding a robot to coordinate multiple joints is daunting. So computer scientists have turned to machine learning, a field of artificial intelligence (AI) in which computers build skills on their own. Such learning takes time and repetition, however, and robot hardware is slow and breakable. Some researchers instead train algorithms with virtual robots, but reality is always slightly different from simulation.The new work overcame this “reality gap” by slightly randomizing elements of the simulation during training, such as friction and object size. (Most of the work, in both simulation and reality, was done with a child’s building block with letters on its sides.) They also gave the program short-term memory, so after a few seconds of handling the cube, it got a sense of the block’s exact size and other factors and adjusted for them.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The researchers used the commercial Shadow Dexterous Hand, which resembles a human hand, attached to a wall, along with a digital simulation of the hand for training. In both virtual training and a physical test to see how well the training transferred to the real hand, the hand was instructed to manipulate a cube in a series of new orientations so that, for example, the side with the A on it was facing up and side with the P on it was facing out. No robot hand had ever done something nearly as complicated. Watch a robot hand learn to manipulate objects just like a human hand In the real world, the system “saw” the cube using three cameras placed above the hand. The virtual hand, after the equivalent of 100 years of trial-and-error practice (sped up in simulation), performed an average of 30 consecutive reorientations without getting stuck or dropping the cube. The physical hand completed an average of 15 consecutive reorientations without getting stuck or dropping the cube, the researchers report today. The system, called Dactyl, also discovered common human tricks such as spinning the cube between two fingertips or taking advantage of gravity to shift the block.The advance might improve the assembly of delicate electronics or the ability of health care or domestic robots to help around the house. Omelet, anyone? By Matthew HutsonJul. 30, 2018 , 12:00 PMlast_img read more

Watch these sluggish basking sharks break through the water as quickly as great whites

first_imgWatch these sluggish basking sharks break through the water as quickly as great whites Don’t be fooled by the big-mouthed basking shark’s sluggish demeanor, because it possesses one mighty trick. This mammoth fish, the second largest in the sea, can breach entirely out of the water at speeds comparable to those of great white sharks, according to a new study.A team of international scientists used video analysis and a shark-mounted data logger to measure the vertical velocity of basking sharks as they tore through the water off the coast of Ireland. These typically slow, plankton-guzzling fish breached at approximately 5 meters per second, they report today in Biology Letters. That’s as fast as predatory great white sharks in South Africa, which clock in at 4.8 meters per second.An accelerometer mounted onto a male basking shark showed that in just 10 beats of its tail, the fish propelled itself from a depth of 28 meters to break the water’s surface in 9 seconds, accelerating at an astonishing speed of 5 meters per second.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)This spectacle requires quite a bit of energy. In fact, scientists estimate that a single basking shark breach costs some 50% more, in terms of calories, than a comparable move by their similarly sized great white cousins. So, exactly why do they do it?Great white sharks are notorious for their rapid breaches, which they use to hunt prey lingering near the ocean’s surface. But filter-feeding basking sharks wouldn’t need such a move to feed. It could be that they are ridding themselves of parasites, warding off predators, or perhaps even using their stunning acrobatics to attract mates. Regardless of the reason, researchers say these new data should shift our perspectives of other supposedly slow creatures—and shed a light onto the mysterious ways of the ocean’s gentle giants. By Courtney MiceliSep. 11, 2018 , 7:01 PMlast_img read more

Plants and animals sometimes take genes from bacteria, study of algae suggests

first_imgTo thrive in extreme environments like thermal springs, unicellular red algae (green) have taken in bacteria genes. Plants and animals sometimes take genes from bacteria, study of algae suggests Debashish Bhattacharya By Elizabeth PennisiJan. 29, 2019 , 4:45 PM Algae found in thermal springs and other extreme environments have heated up a long-standing debate: Do eukaryotes—organisms with a cell nucleus—sometimes get an evolutionary boost in the form of genes transferred from bacteria? The genomes of some red algae, single-celled eukaryotes, suggest the answer is yes. About 1% of their genes have foreign origins, and the borrowed genes may help the algae adapt to their hostile environment.The new research, posted last week as a preprint on bioRxiv, has not persuaded the most vocal critic of the idea that eukaryotes regularly receive beneficial bacterial DNA. But other scientists have been won over. The group provides a “fairly nice, rock-solid case for horizontal gene transfer” into eukaryotes, says Andrew Roger, a protist genomicist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.Many genome studies have shown that prokaryotes—bacteria and archaea—liberally swap genes among species, which influences their evolution. The initial sequencing of the human genome suggested our species, too, has picked up microbial genes. But further work demonstrated that such genes found in vertebrate genomes were often contaminants introduced during sequencing.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In 2015, after analyses of millions of protein sequences across many species, William Martin, a biologist at the University of Dusseldorf (UD) in Germany, and colleagues concluded in Nature that there is no significant ongoing transfer of prokaryotic genes into eukaryotes. Martin believes any such transfers only occurred episodically early in the evolution of eukaryotes, as they internalized the bacteria that eventually became organelles such mitochondria or chloroplasts. If bacterial genes were continually moving into eukaryotes and being put to use, Martin says, a pattern of such gene accumulation should be discernible within the eukaryotic family tree, but there is none.Debashish Bhattacharya, an evolutionary genomicist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and UD plant biochemist Andreas Weber took a closer look at a possible case of bacteria-to-eukaryote gene transfer that Martin has challenged. The initial sequencing of genomes from two species of red algae called Cyanidiophyceae had indicated that up to 6% of their DNA had a prokaryotic origin. These so-called extremophiles, which live in acidic hot springs and even inside rock, can’t afford to maintain superfluous DNA. They appear to contain only genes needed for survival. “When we find a bacterial gene, we know it has an important function or it wouldn’t last” in the genome, Bhattacharya says.He and Weber turned to a newer technology that deciphers long pieces of DNA. The 13 red algal genomes they studied contain 96 foreign genes, nearly all of them sandwiched between typical algal genes in the DNA sequenced, which makes it unlikely they were accidentally introduced in the lab. “At the very least, this argument that [putative transferred genes are] all contamination should finally be obsolete,” says Gerald Schoenknecht, a plant physiologist at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.The transferred genes seem to transport or detoxify heavy metals, or they help the algae extract nourishment from the environment or cope with high temperature and other stressful conditions. “By acquiring genes from extremophile prokaryotes, these red algae have adapted to more and more extreme environments,” Schoenknecht says. Martin says the new evidence doesn’t persuade him. “They go to great lengths to find exactly what I say they should find if [horizontal gene transfer to eukaryotes] is real, but they do not find it,” he asserts. Others argue that gene transfer to eukaryotes is so rare, and the pressure to get rid of any but the most important borrowed genes is so strong, that transferred genes might not accumulate over time as Martin expects.Of course, Roger says, “What’s happening in red algae might not be happening in animals like us.” Humans and all other multicellular eukaryotes, including plants, have specialized reproductive cells, such as sperm or eggs or their stem cells, and only bacterial genes picked up by those cells could be passed on.Despite this obstacle, several insect researchers say they see evidence of such gene transfer. John McCutcheon, a biologist at Montana State University in Missoula who studies mealy bugs, is one. “I’ve moved beyond asking ‘if [the bacterial genes] are there,’ to how they work,” he says. The red algae, he adds, “is a very clear case.”last_img read more

Ocean acidification could boost shell growth in snails and sea urchins

first_img Ocean acidification could boost shell growth in snails and sea urchins Jeff Rotman/Science Source The world’s oceans are acidifying rapidly as they soak up massive amounts of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released from burning fossil fuels. That’s bad news for tiny marine critters like coral and sea urchins that make up the base of the ocean food chain: Acidic water not only destroys their shells, but it also makes it harder for them to build new ones. Now, scientists studying sea snails have discovered an unexpected side effect of this acid brew—it can help some of them build thicker, stronger shells by making their food more nutritious.Often called climate change’s “evil twin,” acidification happens when the ocean absorbs atmospheric CO2. As CO2 dissolves, the process releases hydrogen ions, lowering the water’s pH and increasing its acidity. That acidic water also removes many floating carbonate ions that organisms like mussels and clams use to build their sturdy shells. Under these conditions, it takes more energy for these creatures to make shells thick enough to withstand the added stress.But some lab studies suggest more food, such as algae, could help strengthen marine organisms’ shells, and thus offset some of the damage caused by ocean acidification. Scientists predict climate change will do just that, because extra CO2 increases the availability of nutrients, like nitrogen, essential to algal growth.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To find out what is happening in the wild, Sean Connell, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues traveled to underwater CO2 vents off the coast of New Zealand’s White Island (Whakaari). Water near the vents is about as acidic as most of the ocean is predicted to be by the end of the century. The researchers collected five sea snails (Eatoniella mortoni), along with five samples of turf algae, a staple of the sea snails’ diet.Over 6 years, they compared their samples with sea snails and algae from nearby sites lacking CO2 vents. They measured the thickness and strength of the sea snail shells, and they also measured the protein, carbohydrate, and energy content of the algae, to determine their nutritional quality.The sea snails at the CO2 vents built shells that were twice as thick and more durable than the shells of snails at the control site, Connell and colleagues report this month in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In addition, the algae were four times as abundant and had 11% more protein and carbohydrates than at the control location, meaning the snails had a bigger and more nutritious supply of food.Connell chalks this up to extra nitrogen availability. The water’s lower pH allows marine plants like algae to absorb more nitrate, a form of nitrogen, enabling the plants to produce more protein. “We recognized that energy governs life,” Connell says. “If these energy connections exist in nature, their discovery could change the way we think about threatened species.”The study was “elegantly” done, says Iris Hendriks, a marine biologist with the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid. However, she adds, “There’s a lot of ‘buts’ here.” For example, Hendriks wonders whether the findings could apply to organisms that aren’t known to survive in acidic water. Further, she notes, it’s hard to predict what will happen in ecosystems, which have complex—and sometimes conflicting—interactions.Marine biologist Ulf Riebesell, who leads the biological oceanography department at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, agrees. “The study is unique in showing one organism that benefits based on one food change,” he says, “but it implies this might be a general phenomenon that can be extrapolated to other marine systems. I would be very careful in doing so.”Despite the idea that some marine organisms can resist the dangers of climate change, Riebesell says biodiversity is still decreasing, especially at CO2 vents, and that could make ecosystems less resilient. “Even if some organisms benefit from warming and acidification, there are still losers,” Riebesell says, “and evolutionary adaptation is not fast enough to compensate for the loss of these losers.” By Katie CameroJul. 23, 2019 , 2:00 PM Shell-building creatures like sea urchins could potentially benefit from acidic ocean waters.last_img read more

Inter & Milan in for Strootman?

first_imgInter and Milan are both interested in signing Olympique Marseille midfielder Kevin Strootman, according to French newspaper L’Equipe. Strootman left Roma in the summer of 2018 to join Marseille for a reported €25m after helping the Giallorossi reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. However, L’Equipe claims the Dutchman is now free to leave the Ligue 1 side for the right price, and this has alerted both Milan clubs. The Rossoneri will try to add more experience to their squad in January, while at 29 he is younger than Antonio Conte’s preferred target Arturo Vidal. Strootman made 131 appearances for Roma in all competitions, scoring 13 goals. Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/last_img read more