A Graphic Look at Mexico’s Outbreak

first_imgMexico’s Ministry of Health regularly posts informative, detailed graphs of its outbreak that have received little prime-time exposure. Even if you don’t read Spanish, you can glean loads of tidbits from the charts. On 15 May, for example, a graph that shows the accumulation of confirmed cases by date of the onset of symptoms indicates that cases peaked on April 26. The curves suggest that the outbreak there has waned, as Mexican health officials there have asserted (though there may be detection bias because of factors like processing older samples first). Note, too, that the graph has 34 cases that were symptomatic before 1 April, the date of a much ballyhooed “patient zero” from La Gloria, Veracruz. Other charts show the breakdown of confirmed cases by age, gender, and states, as well as the frequency of specific symptoms.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(*)Image Credit: Ministry of Health, MexicoView imagelast_img read more

AP on Hacked E-mails: “Science Not Faked, But Not Pretty”

first_imgThe AP had five reporters pore over the 1073 leaked e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom for weeks and delivered a lengthy report over the weekend. An excerpt states:[S]cientists harbored private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don’t undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.The scientists were keenly aware of how their work would be viewed and used, and, just like politicians, went to great pains to shape their message. Sometimes, they sounded more like schoolyard taunts than scientific tenets.The scientists were so convinced by their own science and so driven by a cause “that unless you’re with them, you’re against them,” said Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also reviewed the communications.last_img read more

DARPA to Offer $30 Million to Jump-Start Cellular Factories

first_imgThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department’s high-risk granting body, is about to jump into synthetic biology in a big way. One of the latest research buzzwords, synthetic biology means different things to many. But for a new DARPA program, it represents modifying the metabolic and genetic machinery of cells to produce useful products. “We want to create a new manufacturing capability for the United States,” says DARPA Program Manager Alicia Jackson. Approved barely a month ago, the $30 million Living Foundries program should be sending out a request for proposals in the next few weeks and making awards several months from now. With its investment, over the next 3 years DARPA will support academic and corporate researchers for developing and applying an engineering framework to biology for biomanufacturing. The goal is to “break open the field to new players so [they] will not have to be experienced in genetics to design new biological systems,” Jackson said yesterday at a DARPA “Industry Day” meeting in Arlington, Virginia. She drew parallels between synthetic biology and the semiconductor industry, pointing out that applications for integrated circuits really took off once transistors and other components were standardized, enabling many more people to come up with new circuits. She would like to see that happen with synthetic biology, as newcomers to the field are likely to come up with products and applications not considered by the typical synthetic biologist. “A classically trained biologist grows accustomed to limitations,” explains Zach Serber, a technologist at Amyris Inc., a synthetic biology company in Emeryville, California. “Having some ignorance about biology can be an asset.” 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 vision of using cells as factories, with DNA as the instruction set, has been difficult to realize. A single product takes years and millions of dollars to develop. It took DuPont from 1992 to 2007, and an amount of research time equal to the efforts of 575 scientists over the course of a year, to begin making a polymer building block from corn syrup using genetically engineered bacteria, for example. Biosynthesis of artemisinin, an antimalarial medication initially derived from plants, cost $25 million to develop. “And we are not getting any better; we’re not getting any faster,” Jackson notes. It now takes hundreds of thousands of experiments and many iterations of the DNA instructions to work out the kinks for each cell factory. DARPA’s new program will further encourage the application of an engineering approach so as to lower costs and shorten timelines by a hundred-fold, she asserts. To accomplish that, Jackson says, there’s need for the standardization of parts—genes, regulatory DNA, and so forth—the development of interoperable design tools for piecing DNA into the right instructions, quicker and cheaper methods for synthesizing and assembling DNA, and more streamlined methods for assessing these cellular factories. Unlike most programs, DARPA will fund all the meritorious proposals, and has a variety of funding mechanisms, grants, contracts, etc., to meet the needs of the grantee, Jackson pledged. The new DARPA program will also support informatics and the development of new ways to characterize cells, areas not always lumped into synthetic biology. “There’s a lot of foundation work that needs to be done,” says Julius Lucks, a synthetic biologist at Cornell University. The fundamental tools that need to be developed to make synthetic biology more affordable and commercially viable are lacking and not really in the purview of typical academic research, Lucks explains. He sees the new DARPA program as “a funding source to bridge the gap between what can be done in the lab and what industry will do.” The Living Foundries program breaks new ground for DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), which typically supports electronics, photonics, materials science, and computer modeling research designed to improve communication and sensing systems in war fighters. It’s not the agency’s first foray into synthetic biology, however. In March, a different part of DARPA issued another call for proposals related to synthetic biology, this time for research related to biosecurity, and there is a vaccine program that uses tobacco that could quality as engineering biology, says Jackson. The first phase of the Living Foundries effort will support work that advances the tools needed to make synthetic biology more efficient and cheaper. Jackson would like to see vast improvements in how quickly and cheaply researchers can order DNA. Right now, DNA designed for a particular experiment costs at least 45 cents a base and can take up to 2 months to procure. “DNA should cost next to nothing,” she says. A second phase will follow that will push to integrate these advances so as to greatly decrease the cost and time for developing and making new products. DARPA “has a very bold vision,” says Daniel Drell, a program manager at the U.S. Department of Energy. “But I don’t think this is going to be easy.” He predicts it will be challenging to make living systems conform to engineering principles. And Steven Benner, a synthetic biologist from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Florida, says that Jackson doesn’t appreciate that commercially produced synthetic DNA is really quite reasonably priced given the cost of the chemicals used for making it. Dieter Söll of Yale University notes that while synthetic biology can be sped up, it is still limited by how fast the organisms used reproduce. “Biology is going to fight them,” adds Drell. DARPA isn’t the only government agency pushing synthetic biology. This year, NASA set up a synthetic biology group at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. NASA sees the potential of shipping microorganisms through space to the moon or Mars, where they can be harnessed to convert local soils into bricks and mortar or to produce pharmaceuticals, food, or fuel. As part of that vision, the group is developing ways to encapsulate these living factories for transport, perhaps even for implanting into the human body. The Department of Energy is “not quite yet” invested in synthetic biology, says Drell. But in the president’s request for the 2012 budget, DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research Program announced that it would start a program. The fate, size, and scope of its effort is unclear at this point. The National Science Foundation (NSF), on the other hand, has helped sponsor several leaders in the field. And although synthetic biology is hard to define, NSF already spends at least $40 million a year on the field, according to one of its program officer, Theresa Good. One of NSF’s flagship programs, the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center is halfway through its $40 million, 10-year award. It includes about 10 senior investigators who “are really going from basic science to [the] translation to industry,” says Good. The center has spun off several companies, most focused on producing high-value feedstocks for the chemical industry, sponsors an international student contest for synthetic biology, develops graduate and undergraduate curriculum, and studies the ethical, legal, and social implications of this new field. “They understand how to put circuits together and how to [make] pathways in bacteria much faster than could be done 5 years ago,” Good adds.last_img read more

New World Bank Head Wants to Address Climate Change

first_imgJim Yong Kim Wikimedia Commons Jim Yong Kim, the new president of the World Bank, said in Tokyo today that dealing with climate change will be one of his priorities. “Since becoming president of the World Bank, I have looked deeply into the data on climate change, and I have to say I was surprised that even in last 6 months to a year, the data has become ever more frightening,” he said. “As a scientist, I feel a moral responsibility to be very clear in communicating the dangers of climate change.” Kim, a public health specialist with a long track record of involvement in developing countries and the former president of Dartmouth College, took office on 1 July. He is overseeing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group Annual Meetings this week in Tokyo. In a morning press conference and at an afternoon public forum hosted by The Wall Street Journal (videos available), Kim admitted that the bank faces a host of challenges given current economic trends. But he said he remained optimistic that developed countries will recognize the global benefits that will come from continuing to support the bank’s work, which Kim said would include attention to mitigating and adapting to climate change. “I think the question we have to ask ourselves is not simply is climate change real or not, I think we have to begin looking hard at what the world is going to look like for our children,” he said. But Kim added that he wants to go beyond painting a “doomsday picture.” “We have to encourage the best and brightest companies and countries to seize opportunities and understand that their path to economic growth could very well be engaging in finding new technologies and new approaches of mitigating climate change.” 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(*) Kim is the first scientist to head the World Bank; typically the position goes to economists or career public servants. Another need that he said he recognizes because of his academic background, first at Harvard Medical School in Boston and later at Dartmouth, is to expand access to and improve education in developing countries. And, referring to his public health background, Kim noted that some of the discussions this week focus on ways to help developing countries build comprehensive, universal health care systems. Kim’s overriding goal, however, is the elimination of poverty. He has posed this question to the bank’s experts: “What can we do to fundamentally change the arc of history to end absolute poverty more quickly than is currently predicted.” While head of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS program in the mid-2000s, Kim set an ambitious goal of providing treatment for 3 million HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries within a set time frame. (The goal was met, though a couple years late.) He said that by the time of the next IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, he intends to set a similarly “reasonable and audacious” target for ending poverty.last_img read more

Successor for Sacked Bulgarian Research Minister Nominated

first_imgThe president of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Stefan Vodenicharov, has been nominated as the country’s new minister of education and research. Former minister Sergei Ignatov was ousted last week after a government investigation found irregularities in how research funds were distributed. Bulgarian scientists had been protesting for months against what they said was widespread corruption at the ministry, especially regarding grantmaking at the Bulgarian National Science Fund (BNSF). Vodenicharov, a metallurgical engineer, was elected as the academy’s president in December. Before that, he was director of the academy’s Institute of Metal Science, Equipment and Technologies in Sofia. Nikolai Denkov, a chemical engineer at Sofia University who participated in the protests, says he is cautiously optimistic about the nomination. Vodenicharov has experience as an administrator in the academy, Denkov says. However, whoever takes over the ministry will have a difficult job and not much time. Elections are expected this summer, and it is unclear whether the minority government led by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov will remain in power. 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(*) More important, Denkov says, is that the parliament passes proposed revisions to the laws governing research funding. Good practices are not written into the current legislation, and they are also lacking “in the mentality of the people” at the ministry, he says. The first task of the minister will be to try to repair the damage at BNSF. “Its credibility and capacity have been totally destroyed,” Denkov says. “I hope the new minister uses the time to get work there going again.” The Bulgarian parliament is expected to vote on Vodenicharov’s nomination on 6 February.last_img read more

Earth-like planet found orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor

first_img Source: NASA; Graphic: A. Cuadra/Science By Daniel CleryAug. 24, 2016 , 1:00 PM Since 2000, a number of groups had found tantalizing hints of a planet around Proxima Centauri, but nothing conclusive. “We designed an experiment to confirm what we suspected was there,” says team leader Guillem Anglada-Escudé of Queen Mary University of London, who used the European Southern Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph on a 3.6-meter telescope in Chile. Their Pale Red Dot campaign used HARPS to observe the star for 20 minutes every night for 60 nights in a row, beginning this past January. When combined with earlier observations, these new data clinched it: There was a planet at least 1.3 times the mass of Earth orbiting the star every 11.2 days. “This solidifies our view that rocky planets are everywhere, ubiquitous, around all kinds of stars,” says astrophysicist Nikku Madhusudhan of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the project. A planet so close to its star—just 5% of the Earth-sun distance—might be expected to be a red-hot cinder, but Proxima Centauri is just one-eighth the mass of the sun and burns much less brightly. The total energy hitting Proxima b is only 65% of what Earth gets from the sun, so liquid water could easily exist there so long as the planet has some sort of atmosphere to trap heat. Nevertheless, the planet isn’t particularly welcoming for life. It’s probably tidally locked, meaning that it always presents the same face to the star, resulting in permanent day and night sides with huge differences in temperature. Thanks to its closeness to Proxima Centauri, the planet also receives 100 times as much high energy radiation as Earth, in the form of ultraviolet light and x-rays. And during stellar flare-ups, Proxima b is blasted with high-energy particles, too—unless it has a protective magnetic field like Earth’s. Nevertheless, Anglada-Escudé says, there is “a reasonable range of parameters that could make it a comfortable planet.”Proxima b’s discovery has sparked a race to see if it passes across the face of its star as viewed from Earth. Detecting such “transits” would pin down the planet’s size and mass, which would allow researchers to calculate its density. Knowing that would confirm the planet’s rocky nature and give hints about what those rocks are made of. And starlight passing through the planet’s atmosphere during a transit can reveal its composition. “That would be amazing, a dream come true,” Seager says. But there is only a 1.5% chance that the orbit is aligned for scientists to witness a transit. The star’s tendency to flare isn’t making things easy, either. “The star is tricky,” says astronomer David Kipping of Columbia University. Kipping’s team studied Proxima Centauri in 2014 using Canada’s orbiting Microvariability & Oscillations of Stars Telescope. They are now reanalyzing their data based on the Pale Red Dot findings and hope to have an answer in a few weeks. “Even if we succeed, the follow up is not trivial,” Kipping says. “We’re not used to stars like this. Life will be harder.” If Proxima b doesn’t transit, there is still hope. Next decade, a new generation of extremely large telescopes or space-based observatories may be able to blot out the light of Proxima Centauri and gather the planet’s light directly, producing our first direct look at another potentially habitable world. And if sending a probe across the trillions of kilometers of space to visit a nearby star system ever becomes feasible, engineers have their first target. For more coverage on planets visit our Planets topic page. The exoplanet next door Astronomers have discovered an Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun.center_img Earth-like planet found orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor Say hello to our newest, nearest neighbor. After years of scrutinizing the closest star to Earth, a red dwarf known as Proxima Centauri, astronomers have finally found evidence for a planet, slightly bigger than Earth and well within the star’s habitable zone—the range of orbits in which liquid water could exist on its surface. Researchers have already found hundreds of similarly sized planets, and many appear to be far better candidates for hosting life than the one around Proxima Centauri, known as Proxima b. But researchers are excited because the planet is just a stone’s throw away from Earth, cosmically speaking. At 4.25 light-years distant, Proxima b may be within reach of telescopes and techniques that could reveal more about its composition and atmosphere than that of any other exoplanet discovered to date. “This is the best planet we have [for study] right now, no question,” says planetary scientist Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who was not involved in the finding. 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(*)Rumors had been circulating for weeks about the discovery, announced on 24 August in Nature. The planet was found using the radial velocity method: Telescopes scrutinize a star’s light to see if its frequency is periodically stretched and squeezed by the Doppler effect as the star is tugged, first away and then toward us, by an orbiting planet. The task was especially difficult for Proxima Centauri, which tends to flare up dramatically, obscuring the planet-induced signal. last_img read more

Sad movies help us bond with those around us—and alleviate pain

first_imgIf you were old enough to see a PG-13 movie in 1997, chances are you went to see Titanic. And chances are you cried. You might have even seen the film multiple times, doing your part to make it the highest-grossing sob fest in movie history. Now, a new study suggests why people want to see tragedies like Titanic over and over again: Watching dramas together builds social bonds and even raises our tolerance for physical pain.“Why on Earth would we waste so much of our time and money going back to novels and films that make us cry?” evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and his team asked at the beginning of the new study. In their previous investigations of group activities like dancing, laughing, and singing, they found that feel-good chemicals called endorphins were released in the brain, leading to increased pain tolerance and stronger bonds between participants. Endorphins are also released when monkeys and other nonhuman primates groom, suggesting that this mechanism has evolved to boost social ties, Dunbar says. Watching a tragic drama unfold in a theater might harness the same system, the researchers hypothesized.So Dunbar and his colleagues recruited 169 people to watch Stuart: A Life Backwards. This made-for-TV film portrays the experiences of a disabled homeless man who was sexually abused as a child and struggles with lifelong drug use and imprisonment. He ultimately dies by throwing himself in front of a train. Based on a real man’s life, the story is “about as close to pure tragedy as Shakespeare,” Dunbar says. “People were leaving in tears.”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 compared those viewers with a second group of 68 people who watched two rather sedate BBC documentaries: episode one of The Museum of Life—a behind-the-scenes look at the Natural History Museum in London—and Landscape Mysteries “In Search of Irish Gold,” which explores Irish geology and archaeology. Before and after watching the films, all participants took two tests: One measured their sense of belonging or bonding with their fellow audience members. Another was a measure of pain sensitivity, called the Roman chair, which Dunbar says is a well-established proxy for endorphin release. In it, participants brace themselves unsupported in a chairlike stance against a wall until their leg muscles burn painfully. The higher the endorphin level, the longer a person should be able to sustain the posture, Dunbar says.Participants who had watched Stuart: A Life Backwards were able to maintain the Roman chair roughly 18% longer than they had in their initial baseline test, compared with those who had watched the documentaries, the authors report today in the journal Royal Society Open Science. They also found a parallel increase in the volunteers’ sense of social bonding that was not seen in the control group, suggesting that watching the drama—and not the duller BBC shows—had boosted group coherence.The results are “quite interesting,” says Alexander Shackman, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, College Park, who was not involved with the work. Still, the fact that the Roman chair pain sensitivity test did not directly measure endorphin release leaves open the possibility of other explanations for the increase in social bonding, he says. “We know that emotional films can have complex effects on the brain and that a number of other, nonopioid mechanisms can influence pain tolerance.” Other neuropeptides such as oxytocin, for example, also play a role in social bonding.Not everybody responded to Stuart: A Life Backwards, Dunbar notes—indeed, for about one-third of the people, watching the film did not increase their sense of bonding and actually made them more sensitive to pain. That is not surprising considering individual taste, Dunbar says—after all, not everybody liked Titanic. Still, the findings may help explain the heightened sense of connection that people often feel as they exit a theater after seeing a powerful performance, he says. “As they come out into the foyer, they’re talking to complete strangers.” There’s an old adage in the theater community that sums up the phenomenon, Dunbar says: “People go into a play as individuals, and come out as an audience.”last_img read more

Watch a cloud being born

first_imgIf you’ve ever looked up and seen thin, wispy clouds, you’ve probably seen cirrus clouds. Now, scientists have captured the creation of a cirrus cloud by modifying an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM)—a microscope that can magnify subjects in a gaseous environment. They added a new chamber to give the instrument the capacity to accurately produce specific temperature, pressure, and relative humidity conditions where one particular cloud type should form. To see how cirrus clouds form, scientists placed the makings of a cloud in the modified ESEM chamber: mineral particles and water vapor. At the temperature, pressure, and relative humidity where cirrus clouds form 6000 meters above Earth, the particles attracted water vapor that froze on their surfaces, creating the first ice crystals that would be present in a baby cirrus cloud. The researchers, who published their work in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, captured an image every 3 seconds during this process and put them together in time-lapse videos (above), where crystals form on particles just 50 nanometers wide. They also note that their modified ESEM is a jump forward toward more fully understanding how cloud formation affects Earth’s climate.last_img read more

Swaziland makes major strides against its AIDS epidemic

first_img JON HRUSA/EPA/Redux Swaziland makes major strides against its AIDS epidemic PARIS—New data from Swaziland, a tiny country in southern Africa, provide some of the most convincing evidence yet that aggressively ramping up treatment for HIV/AIDS works on a population level to cut the rate of new infections. The kingdom has had one of the worst HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world, but since 2011, its massive scale-up of testing and treatment has slashed the rate of new infections by 44%.Several studies have firmly established that when antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are taken consistently they drive the level of HIV in the blood down below the level of detection on standard tests. In response, the risk of an infected person transmitting the virus plummets. This led to the concept of so-called treatment as prevention, and mathematical models suggest that if 73% of a population suppresses their virus, new infection rates will nose-dive and epidemics can sputter out. But many questions remain about this theory, especially after a report last year showed that Botswana had come close to hitting this target without seeing much impact on its rate of new infections..New data presented here at the International AIDS Society’s (IAS’s) international conference show Swaziland, a landlocked country of 1.45 million people that’s bordered by South Africa and Mozambique, has made “remarkable progress,” said Velephi Okello from the country’s Ministry of Health in Mbabane. As Okello explained, a survey in 2011 showed that 32% of the Swazi population between the ages of 18 and 49 was living with HIV—the highest prevalence of any country in the world. At the time, only 72,402 of those people were receiving ARV treatment. Only 34.8% of the infected population had suppressed the virus. The rate of new infection, or incidence, was 2.5% per year. 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 rate of new HIV/AIDS infections has plummeted in hard-hit Swaziland, showing the power of treatment as prevention. center_img By Jon CohenJul. 24, 2017 , 2:45 PM Today, 171,266 HIV-infected people in Swaziland receive ARVs, thanks to support from the U.S. government President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program (PEPFAR), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. A 7-month survey, funded by the Washington, D.C.–based PEPFAR and completed in March, found that 73.1% of the infected population now has fully suppressed virus, and Okello said the HIV incidence had dropped to 1.4%—a 44% decrease. In addition to ramping up treatment, the country also has seen big increases in men opting to be circumcised, a proven way to lower the risk of becoming infected by the AIDS virus.The room erupted into hoots and applause. “These findings are cause for celebration,” says Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University whose group helped Swaziland conduct the surveys. “It’s a dramatic blunting of new infections.”“These are really beautiful data,” said Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. Bekker, who was not involved in the study, is also the president of IAS, which sponsored the meeting.PEPFAR Director Deborah Birx said the new data were rigorously collected. “The thing that’s so exciting about Swaziland is they had a very true baseline from 5 years ago with very similar methodology so you could go in there and see which parameters changed and which parameters didn’t change,” Birx says. She stresses that treatment as prevention by itself won’t eliminate HIV in Swaziland. “This is our way to contract the epidemic on our way to vaccine and a cure,” she says.Swaziland still faces serious challenges, Okello noted. Only 66.1% of HIV-infected people in the 15- to 24-year-old age bracket, know their status—far lower than the 84.7% seen overall—and of those, only 81.7% are receiving ARVs. More sobering still, about one-fourth of those receiving treatment in the younger group are not suppressing their infections. “They’re lagging behind,” Okello said.Michel Sidibé, head of the Joint United Programme on HIV/AIDS in Geneva, Switzerland, worked in Swaziland 25 years ago when the virus was just starting to make headway. “We saw the epidemic exploding in South Africa and the migration with Swaziland was so big I could see the big risk,” Sidibé says. But Swaziland was reluctant to promote education about sexuality and had a traditional, decentralized approach to the growing spread of the virus, he says. “The major, major breakthrough started coming when the current king understood it was a survival issue for his nation about 6, 7 years ago.”Sidibé says he hopes the U.S. government will take notice of the Swaziland success and recognize the importance of maintaining its substantial investments in PEPFAR and the Global Fund. (It’s the biggest single donor.) “The best news of this conference will be the Swaziland results,” Sidibé says. “The result should drive all our efforts.”Although U.S. President Donald Trump strongly supported PEPFAR while he was a candidate, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month alarmed many in the HIV/AIDS community when he testified at a U.S. Senate hearing about proposed budget cuts that could limit PEPFAR’s extensive reach. “The program monies that are available are to sustain the HIV treatments in 11 countries to continue to take those to conclusion,” he said.Birx says this was a misunderstanding. “That is totally my fault,” says Birx, explaining that she wrote a briefing paper that called for accelerating the PEPFAR effort in 11 countries. “We’re not leaving the other 50 countries that we’re in.”last_img read more

Bed bugs love your stinky laundry. Here’s how to keep them away

first_img On the surface, bed bugs seem ill-equipped for world domination: They can’t fly, jump, or swim; they can survive only on blood; and the world’s foremost apex predators—humans—want them all dead. Yet the parasitic arthropods have recently undergone what scientists are calling a “rapid global expansion,” taking over new territories and growing in number and range. And according to a new study, their globetrotting is made possible in part by an unusual form of transportation: our stinky laundry.“It’s a good study,” says Richard Cooper, an entomologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who was not involved with the work. He says it makes sense that the bugs are attracted to human odors, even on clothing.Though they aren’t known to transmit disease, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) can leave behind itchy bites and cause allergic reactions. In the middle of the 20th century, the pests had been largely eradicated from large parts of the developed world, but bans on effective pesticides in the 1990s, along with cheap air travel, have allowed the bugs to come creeping back.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(*)Unlike ticks or lice, the apple seed–sized bed bugs aren’t travelers: They don’t stay on their hosts for long, and they rarely leave the beds and couches where they feast. So how were they getting onto planes?“To me, hitchhiking seemed like the best explanation,” says William Hentley, an entomologist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. “That then led me to this question of whether they’re attracted to our clothes and the smell of humans.”To figure out whether the bugs were indeed stowing away in our laundry and luggage, Hentley and his colleagues tested whether the insects were attracted to soiled clothing. They set a cage full of bed bugs in the middle of a room and placed two cotton bags at equal distances—one filled with clean clothes and the other filled with dirty socks and T-shirts collected from volunteers. The researchers released the bed bugs from the cage and let them wander freely for 96 hours.At the end of the experiment, about twice as many bugs were attracted to the dirty clothes as to clean ones, the team reports today in Scientific Reports. That jives with prior experiments that have shown that bed bugs can smell more than 100 compounds produced by human skin—many of which could easily linger on clothes for multiple days, the researchers say.They also tested whether increases in carbon dioxide—long thought to signal a nearby meal—made the bugs more or less likely to go for the smelly clothes. When added to room, the gas seemed to trigger foraging behavior, but the bugs weren’t any more likely to go for the dirty clothes than they were initially. That suggests that carbon dioxide prompts the bugs to forage, but it doesn’t help them home in on the smelly laundry, the team concludes.So what can you do to keep the six-legged parasites out of your suitcase when you travel? Hentley is careful to point out that he hasn’t studied these techniques scientifically, but he recommends simply putting your bags up on the metal luggage racks in a hotel room, because the bugs can’t climb up smooth surfaces. If no such rack is to be found, keeping your soiled garments in an airtight bag should help mask the smell. But bear in mind that if you’ve previously put dirty clothes in your luggage, you might need to wrap up your whole suitcase, he says.Cooper agrees that plastic bags might work, but he doesn’t use them himself. “The biggest thing is not keeping your luggage on the bed,” he says. Another option: putting your bags into a portable heating chamber whenever you get home and washing and drying your clothes on high heat. “Heat is the Achilles heel of the bed bug,” Cooper says. By David ShultzSep. 28, 2017 , 9:00 AM Bed bugs are drawn to the smell of your stinky clothes. AMIXSTUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK Bed bugs love your stinky laundry. Here’s how to keep them awaylast_img read more

Bipartisan bill on sexual harassment signals strong interest by Congress

first_img Bipartisan bill on sexual harassment signals strong interest by Congress The new chairperson of and top Republican on the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives have teamed up to introduce legislation that would require federal research agencies to adopt a common policy on sexual harassment. The bipartisan bill signals that Congress may be ready to address an issue that has roiled the scientific community and generated calls to punish federally funded researchers found guilty of harassment.The legislation (H.R. 36) was introduced last week by Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), the top Democrat on the science panel, and Frank Lucas (OK), the panel’s ranking Republican. It is identical to a bill that Johnson introduced in the fall of 2018. But that proposal was embraced only by Democrats, then in the minority, and it died when the 115th Congress ended.Democrats are now in charge of the House. And although Johnson can set the agenda for her committee, obtaining Lucas’s support suggests she hopes to do more than simply score political points. A bill backed by the panel’s two senior leaders stands a much better chance of moving through the House with the overwhelming support needed to win over the Republican-led Senate and, ultimately, President Donald Trump.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(*) Robert Neubecker By Jeffrey MervisJan. 8, 2019 , 2:40 PM Johnson calls the bill “an important first step” in making sure women can succeed in science and engineering “without being degraded, harassed, or abused because of their gender.” And she favors taking an approach similar to how the National Science Foundation (NSF) has said it plans to deal with the problem.The NSF policy, announced in 2018, requires grantee institutions to tell the agency whenever they have found an NSF-funded investigator guilty of sexual harassment or put that person on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. In the past, NSF and other federal agencies have been caught by surprise by media reports that grantees are being investigated for alleged sexual harassment.Johnson’s bill directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to come up with “a uniform set of policy guidelines” that research agencies would follow in monitoring the activities of grantees. And it says those new guidelines “shall include” the two reporting requirements that NSF has adopted.No other federal agency has gone as far as NSF. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, has been under intense pressure from Congress and some outside groups to take a firmer stance against sexual harassment by its grantees. But NIH Director Francis Collins has said the agency faces “legal constraints” on its oversight authority that don’t apply to NSF. Although the science committee doesn’t have jurisdiction over NIH, Johnson sees her bill as a way to remove such hurdles and speed up that process.The legislation is silent on how federal agencies should use the information they receive from institutions. Representative Jackie Speier (D–CA), a leading voice on the issue, plans to reintroduce a bill she wrote in 2016 that would have required agencies to consider any finding of sexual harassment against a researcher in deciding whether to award them a grant. But Speier has also signed on to Johnson’s bill.H.R. 36 would give NSF the authority to spend $17 million on research to investigate “the factors contributing to, and consequences of, sexual harassment” and to support “interventions to reduce the incidence and negative consequences of such harassment.” It suggests one of the possible topics could be “alternatives to the hierarchical and dependent relationships in academia that have been shown to create higher levels of risk for sexual harassment.” The bill also calls for a survey of the impact of the problem in U.S. higher education and suggests that OSTP ask the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to update its guide to responsible conduct in research.last_img read more