All mosquitoes are attracted to human body odour, but the malaria parasite could be making the insects better at sniffing us out
Mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite are more attracted to human body odour than uninfected insects, a study suggests.
Researchers found that infected insects were three times more likely to be lured towards a human scent.
They believe that the deadly parasites are seizing control of their biting hosts and boosting their sense of smell…
To carry out the study, the researchers infected malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae) with the most deadly form of parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.
They placed about 100 of the infected insects into a container, along with some nylon stockings that had been previously worn by volunteers for 20 hours…”It is a very effective way of collecting body odour… the odour can remain attractive for months,” explained Dr James Logan.
The scientists repeated the experiment with uninfected insects.
They found that mosquitoes carrying the deadly parasite were three times more likely to be attracted to the smelly stockings.
The scientists believe this is because the tiny parasitic organisms are manipulating their hosts’ sense of smell…Dr Logan said: “We think it is giving them a heightened sense of smell. We are hypothesising there is an alteration somewhere in their olfactory system that allows them to find us quicker.”
By making humans an easier target, the parasite is more likely to be passed into the blood stream – ensuring its survival and continuing the spread of the deadly disease.
The researchers will now begin a three-year project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to learn more about how the parasites are doing this.
With a finite quantity of funding available, it’s worth focusing on a disease like malaria that kills and maims people by the thousands. Yes, there are many other ailments, deadly ailments hampering life for all on this planet of ours. It would be great if policymakers and pundits in charge of national treasuries considered life on Earth a higher priority than death and destruction. Until that changes, we do what we can with what we can afford.
Plans to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales are to proceed unimpeded in Parliament after ministers reached agreement with Labour…MPs backed a Labour plan to consult on changing civil partnerships – a move criticised by some Tory MPs.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Maria Miller thanked other parties for their “unwavering support” for the principles of the same-sex Marriage Bill and said a review of civil partnerships could take place “very swiftly”.
Labour said the review could potentially take place within the next few months – enabling its findings to be reflected in the final legislation…
MPs gave their support in principle to gay marriage in February but are now discussing proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday amid calls from some Conservatives for the government to focus on other priorities.
The bill is being debated over two days, with its third reading – the final hurdle in the Commons – on Tuesday. If approved, it will go to the House of Lords on Wednesday, where it is expected to face further opposition.
David Cameron has said equal marriage would help build a stronger and fairer society but nearly half of all Tories voted against it in February and many party activists remain deeply opposed to it in principle…
It does’t seem to matter which Western nation moves forward on civil rights for all. There always are conservatives who apparently feel equal opportunities for all somehow diminishes their tiny little lives.
While failing in their attempts to amend the legislation in any form, Conservative MPs voiced their concerns in large numbers on a range of issues. Blah, blah, blah.
Stonewall, which campaigns for equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, said it would be a “terrible pity” if the legislation got “bogged down” and urged MPs from all parties not to “play politics” with it.
Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law.
Other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies. There are currently no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland, but there are already plans for a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland.
The UK debate comes the week after France became the ninth European country, and 14th in the world, to legalise gay marriage. Earlier this month Rhode Island became the 10th US state to allow same-sex marriages.
I wonder if the United States will join the ranks of nations with full civil rights, say, below number 50?
A huge tornado with winds of up to 200 miles per hour tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday, ripping up at least two schools and leaving a wake of tangled wreckage as a dangerous storm system threatened as many as 10 U.S. states.
Television video showed tracts of homes destroyed, cars tossed about and piled atop one another, and at least one building on fire. Rescue workers were pulling third-graders from a severely damaged elementary school in Moore, a KFOR television reporter said from the scene, and aerial video showed first responders sifting through the rubble left behind…
The National Weather Service assigned the twister a preliminary ranking of EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning the second most powerful category of tornado with winds up to 200 mph.
The massive twister struck at the height of tornado season, and more were forecast. On Sunday, tornadoes killed two people and injured 39 in Oklahoma.
The number of deaths continues to climb. I had to stop watching the TV reporting. Firemen at the elementary school say their work is now “search and recovery” – no longer search and rescue.
Witnesses said Monday’s tornado appeared more fierce than the giant twister that was among the dozens that tore up the region on May 3, 1999, killing more than 40 people and destroying thousands of homes. That tornado ranked as an EF5, meaning it had winds over 200 mph…
The 1999 event ranks as the third-costliest tornado in U.S. history, having caused more than $1 billion in damage at the time, or more than $1.3 billion in today’s dollars. Only the devastating Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes in 2011 were more costly…
Estimates at the scene from those who experienced that 1999 tornado say the affected area was 2 or 3 times larger today. Probably 30 square miles of nothing left in one piece.
I’d like to offer a special note aside from the immediacy of this disaster. Americans who retain a traditional open heart to people in trouble always offer a helping hand. The modern exception being the cruel, heartless fools, the rightwingers in the various Tea Party cells around the country – and in Congress. You know who I mean. The kind of lowlifes who fought against providing aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy unless it was “balanced” by cutting Social Security and Medicare.
That despicable attempt was thwarted in Congress – eventually – by joint resistance from Democrats and a few traditional Republicans who haven’t forgotten how to be Americans. I’d like to note that Tom Cole is the Congressional Republican who represents the people of Moore, Oklahoma – and he was one of the few who joined with Democrats to send federal aid to survivors of that terrible superstorm.
They ain’t all sonsabitches in Washington, DC.
Forty-nine years ago, Ashley Yost’s grandfather sank a well deep into a half-mile square of rich Kansas farmland. He struck an artery of water so prodigious that he could pump 1,600 gallons to the surface every minute.
Last year, Mr. Yost was coaxing just 300 gallons from the earth, and pumping up sand in order to do it. By harvest time, the grit had robbed him of $20,000 worth of pumps and any hope of returning to the bumper harvests of years past…
The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought.
Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.
And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains…
Kansas agriculture will survive the slow draining of the aquifer — even now, less than a fifth of the state’s farmland is irrigated in any given year — but the economic impact nevertheless will be outsized. In the last federal agriculture census of Kansas, in 2007, an average acre of irrigated land produced nearly twice as many bushels of corn, two-thirds more soybeans and three-fifths more wheat than did dry land.
Farmers will take a hit as well. Raising crops without irrigation is far cheaper, but yields are far lower. Drought is a constant threat: the last two dry-land harvests were all but wiped out by poor rains.
In the end, most farmers will adapt to farming without water, said Bill Golden, an agriculture economist at Kansas State University…Some already are. A few miles west of Mr. Yost’s farm, Nathan Kells cut back on irrigation when his wells began faltering in the last decade, and shifted his focus to raising dairy heifers — 9,000 on that farm, and thousands more elsewhere. At about 12 gallons a day for a single cow, Mr. Kells can sustain his herd with less water than it takes to grow a single circle of corn.
…And while the big pivots have become much more efficient, a University of California study earlier this year concluded that Kansas farmers were using some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, not to reduce consumption.
A shift to growing corn, a much thirstier crop than most, has only worsened matters. Driven by demand, speculation and a government mandate to produce biofuels, the price of corn has tripled since 2002, and Kansas farmers have responded by increasing the acreage of irrigated cornfields by nearly a fifth.
Economics still rules. Enforced ethanol demand inflated the price of corn. Farmers aren’t in business to refuse higher profits. They plant more corn. They have federal crop insurance and hedge funds to help cover unanswered questions.
And if you have a six-figure investment in the hardware and plumbing to make pivot-irrigation work, you ain’t especially interested in switching over to crop systems using less water.
City College of New York Assistant Professor of Physics Cory Dean, who recently arrived from Columbia University where he was a post-doctoral researcher, and research teams from Columbia and three other institutions have definitively proven the existence of an effect known as Hofstadter’s Butterfly.
The phenomenon, a complex pattern of the energy states of electrons that resembles a butterfly, has appeared in physics textbooks as a theoretical concept of quantum mechanics for nearly 40 years. However, it had never been directly observed until now. Confirming its existence may open the door for researchers to uncover completely unknown electrical properties of materials…
Douglas Hofstadter, a physicist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, first predicted the existence of the butterfly in 1976, when he imagined what would happen to electrons subjected to two forces simultaneously: a magnetic field and the periodic electric field.
The energy spectrum, or pattern of energy levels, that these dueling forces create is said to be “fractal,” that is, infinitely smaller versions of the pattern appear within the main one. This effect is common in classical physics, but rare in the quantum world.
“When you plot the spectrum, it takes on the form of a butterfly. Zoom in on the spectrum and you see the butterfly again, zoom in and see butterfly again,” said Professor Dean. The light and dark sections of the pattern, respectively, correspond to light “gaps” in energy level that electrons cannot cross and dark areas where they can move freely.
“The existence of gaps changes the way electrons move through a material. Copper for example, has no gaps, whereas an insulator, like glass, has very large gaps,” explained Professor Dean. “The relationship between energy and how dense the electrons are in a material – energy density – determines all electrical properties. That’s why copper conducts, glass or ceramic doesn’t, and other materials weakly conduct, like semiconductors.”
“What you see in a Hofstadter spectrum is a very complicated structure of gaps arranged in a fractal pattern,” he continued, which suggests as yet unknown electrical properties.
The team produced the effect by sandwiching together flat sheets of graphene – a single-atom-thickness of carbon – and another material, called boron nitride, and twisting them against each other to create what is called a superlattice. “Graphene has hexagonal chicken wire structure and boron nitride does too,” he said. “It is as if you take screen door material and put one sheet on top of other. As you rotate it you see a periodic pattern appear. You get an interference effect – a ‘moiré’ pattern.” In the case of the chicken-wire structure of graphene and boron nitride, the pattern forms a fractal butterfly of energy states.
Moire patterns drive me nuts. Sometimes I think there must be some pre-industrial part of my brain stuck into dizziness by the phenomenon.
Becoming an American can be bad for your health.
A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in this country, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. And while their American-born children may have more money, they tend to live shorter lives than the parents.
The pattern goes against any notion that moving to America improves every aspect of life. It also demonstrates that at least in terms of health, worries about assimilation for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants are mistaken. In fact, it is happening all too quickly.
“There’s something about life in the United States that is not conducive to good health across generations,” said Robert A. Hummer, a social demographer at the University of Texas at Austin.
For Hispanics, now the nation’s largest immigrant group, the foreign-born live about three years longer than their American-born counterparts, several studies have found.
RTFA and discover exactly the details you might expect: smoking, drinking, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles.
Oh, and the second generation does even worse.
May 7th, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, House Speaker John Boehner warned that the U.S. government must balance its budget. After all, he said:
We have spent more than what we have brought into this government for 55 of the last 60 years. There’s no business in America that could survive like this. No household in America that could do this. And this government can’t do this.
It’s hard to think of better evidence for the sustainability of budget deficits than the fact that we have run them for 55 of the last 60 years. If our fiscal practices haven’t caught up to us after 60 years, when will they? Or does Boehner take a David Stockman-like position that the last several decades of American advancement have in fact been a ghastly failure?
Of course, budget deficits work because the government is different from a household. A government does not have a life cycle, does not ever expect to stop generating income to support itself, and, therefore, does not ever have to retire its debt. It must keep its debts at a manageable size relative to the economy, which the U.S. has done over that 60 year period. If the economy is growing over the long term, that means the government can run a deficit and grow the debt every year — sustainably…
Boehner’s position on short-term debt is confused, too. If the recent expansion of the public debt is a matter of overriding economic concern, why is Boehner so resolutely opposed to tax increases to pay it down? America’s economy has thrived under a variety of tax policies, including much higher top marginal tax rates than are in effect today. Shouldn’t Boehner be willing to accept tax increases, or perhaps even be eager for them, in order to fight the debt menace he cites?
Boehner doesn’t really care about the public debt, as he made clear when he repeatedly supported debt-expanding measures under a Republican president. What Boehner and House Republicans really want are excuses to cut federal spending, particularly on programs such as Medicaid and food stamps that support low-income Americans. But those cuts are unpopular, so Republicans frame fiscal debate to make such cuts appear necessary to avoid disaster. If you can’t borrow or tax more, and can’t cut old-age entitlements or the military, which command the majority of federal spending, you’re not left with many options but to soak the poor.
Soaking the poor is a policy option. It is not, as Boehner would have it, a policy necessity dictated by the inability of the federal government to borrow or tax sustainably. But if the debate instead becomes about tax and spending priorities — is it more important to provide universal health care or keep tax rates low on high earners — it shifts to turf unfavorable to Republicans. So they pretend.
Households often borrow for decades against large enough purchases. They’re called mortgages. But, like the room full of millionaire lawyers that is Congress – Boehner has never been especially concerned with anything he’s not been personally challenged with. Like the expenses of healthcare.
Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.
Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom…And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.
The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.
The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November…
An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there.
Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here…
Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore…
Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum…While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.
“It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce…”
The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States. But D. Mark Routt, a staff energy consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston, said that overseas companies saw it as a cheap alternative to low-grade coal. In China, it is used to generate electricity, adding to that country’s air-quality problems. There is also strong demand from India and Latin America for American petroleum coke, where it mainly fuels cement-making kilns.
“I’m not making a value statement, but it comes down to emission controls,” Mr. Routt said. “Other people don’t seem to have a problem, which is why it is going to Mexico, which is why it is going to China.”
“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” he said. One of the world’s largest dealers of petroleum coke is the Oxbow Corporation, which sells about 11 million tons of fuel-grade coke a year. It is owned by William I. Koch, a brother of David and Charles.
The people who deal in this deadly waste, who care less than any other clique in American capitalism about the lives, lifestyle and lifespan of ordinary American citizens – stockpile this crap alongside a metropolitan river. After turning an extra profit from a dirty byproduct of the dirtiest fuel source on Earth – they couldn’t care less about the air and water they befoul where they store this petro-coke before shipping it off to be burned. Then, in turn, the Koch Bros. profit from fouling the air of the whole planet.
The phrase “the phones are running hot” has the potential for a double meaning in the smartphone age, with increasingly processor-intensive apps being used on mobile devices. Desktop computers make use of water cooling to keep their CPUs from overheating, so why can’t smartphones? Why not, indeed. NEC has done just that with the Medias X N-06E, the world’s first water-cooled smartphone.
At the heart of the Medias X N-06E is a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro running at 1.7 GHz that has its heat drawn away to the sides of the phone by a water-filled heatpipe. Of course, this chip can be found in a range of devices, including the LG Optimus G Pro and HTC One, neither of which seem to be experiencing overheating issues.
While the chip supports clocking up to 1.9 GHz, NEC is sticking to 1.7 GHz for the water-cooled phone, so it’s unlikely users will see any real performance boost. The only real benefits we can see would be the potential to possibly extend the life of the chip or keep the phone cooler in your hot little hand…
The phone comes running Android 4.2 and also features a 4.7-inch 720 x 1,280 OLED display, 13.1-megapixel shooter, 2,300 mAh battery and waterproof and dustproof casing (IPX5, 8/IP5X) – which also gives users the option of dunking the phone in a pool of water if they want some other form of water cooling.
Oh, it comes in pinkish or white and has lots of sparkly-warkly accessories, too.
It’s been dubbed the most expensive prison on Earth and President Barack Obama cited the cost this week as one of many reasons to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which burns through some $900,000 per prisoner annually.
The Pentagon estimates it spends about $150 million each year to operate the prison and military court system at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, which was set up 11 years ago to house foreign terrorism suspects.
With 166 inmates currently in custody, that amounts to an annual cost of $903,614 per prisoner.
By comparison, super-maximum security prisons in the United States spend about $60,000 to $70,000 at most to house their inmates, analysts say.
And the average cost across all federal prisons is about $30,000, they say.
The high cost was just one reason Obama cited when he returned this week to an unfulfilled promise to close the prison and said he would try again.
Obama…said that the prison, set up under his Republican predecessor George W. Bush and long the target of criticism by rights groups and foreign governments, is a stain on the reputation of the United States.
‘It’s extremely inefficient,’ said Ken Gude, chief of staff and vice president at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, who has followed developments at Guantanamo Bay since 2005.
‘That … may be what finally gets us to actually close the prison. I mean the costs are astronomical, when you compare them to what it would cost to detain somebody in the United States,’ Gude said…
Obama pledged to close the prison within a year after first taking office in January 2009 but his efforts ran aground, partly because of congressional opposition, from both Republicans and some in his own Democratic Party, to transferring prisoners to the United States.
Inmates started a hunger strike in February that has swelled to some 100 prisoners and has led to force-feeding of 23 of the prisoners.
With the camp back under a critical spotlight, Obama told a news conference on Tuesday he would renew efforts to shut it down. He has an array of options, some of which would be more achievable than others…
Above the annual operating cost, capital spending on the prison could rise again if the Pentagon receives the funding it says it needs to renovate the place.
General John Kelly, the head of Southern Command, which is responsible for Guantanamo, told a House of Representatives panel in March that he needed some $170 million to improve the facilities for troops stationed at the base as part of detention operations.
Kelly said the living conditions were ‘pretty questionable’ and told the panel, ‘We need to take care of our troops.’
Or we could act like we have functional brains – put the convicted into mainland supermax prisons, send the unconvictable, unindicted back to their home countries or a helpful surrogate country and go back to at least a pretense of being a law-abiding civilized nation. Close down Gitmo and give the land back to the Cubans.