How Cleveland’s New Park Will Define Resistance at the RNC

Wired News - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 11:00am
The design of the city's new Public Square will literally define the shape of protests in Cleveland. The post How Cleveland's New Park Will Define Resistance at the RNC appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

'Land' on Pluto's Icy Plains in This Amazing New NASA Video - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 11:00am
This may be the closest we ever get to landing on Pluto. A new video takes viewers on a ride nearly down to the dwarf planet's surface, stopping just above the rippled "shoreline" of the vast nitrogen-ice plain known as Sputnik Planum.
Categories: Science

China Readies Next Space Lab for September Launch - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 11:00am
China's second orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, was delivered over the weekend from Beijing to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, to undergo assembling and testing processes in preparation for a mid-September launch.
Categories: Science

Alzheimer's Gene Already Shrinking Brain By Age of Three

Slashdot - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 10:00am
schwit1 quotes a report from The Telegraph: The Alzheimer's gene, which dramatically raises the risk of developing dementia, is already affecting carriers by the age of three, shrinking their brains and lowering cognition, a new study suggests. Children who carry the APOEe4 gene mutation, which raises the chance of dementia by 15 fold, were found to do less well in memory, attention and function tests. Areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease, such as the hippocampus and parietal gyri, were also found to be up to 22 percent smaller in volume. [Around 14 percent of people carry the APOEe4 mutation. The research is the first to show that genetic changes which can lead to Alzheimerâ(TM)s are already affecting the brain extremely early in life. Scientists from the University of Hawaii, Yale and Harvard say screening for the gene could help doctors identify which children could benefit from early interventions, such as educational help, preventative treatments, health monitoring and increased exercise. The study involved 1,187 youngsters between the age of three and 20 who took part in genetic tests and brain scans as well as undertaking a series of tests to measure their thinking and memory skills.] According to research from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), infrequent use of a computer in later life could be an early sign of reduced cognitive ability.

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Exploring the Realm of Saturn with Mobile Astronomy Apps - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 8:00am
In this edition of Mobile Astronomy, we'll explore Saturn — as a target for your telescope, as planetary science laboratory and as inspiration for your own journey into astronomy.
Categories: Science

Mayo Clinic researchers discover drug combination that helps immune system attack cancer cells

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 7:13am

Effects of combination drug treatment on tumor size in square millimeters over 67 days for multiple mice (credit: Soraya Zorro Manrique et al./Oncotarget)

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a drug combination that could enhance the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells. The drugs have shown a pronounced therapeutic effect against advanced and metastatic cancers in mice, according to a  study published in the July 12 edition of the online journal Oncotarget.

“Cancers can remain inconspicuous in the body for months to years before causing major problems, leading the immune system to coexist rather than to attack cancers,” explains Mayo Clinic cancer immunotherapist Peter Cohen, M.D.

The solution was to combine two drugs: toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists that can mimic invading bacteria (tricking the immune system into attacking cancer as if it were a life-threatening infection) and the chemotherapy agent cyclophosphamide. The combination resulted in permanent eradication of breast and pancreatic cancers, as well as widespread metastases.

The combined weekly treatment was very well tolerated and actually less toxic than either TLR agonists or cyclophosphamide given individually, they also found.

The drug combination also revealed an additional benefit: it activated monocytes (a type of white blood cell) to participate in the killing of cancer cells.

Mayo Clinic is continuing its research in an FDA-approved clinical trial. They are studying whether patients with advanced cancers, including pancreas, breast, colorectal, melanoma and others, respond similarly to mice when cyclophosphamide treatment is paired with the TLR agonist motolimod.

Mayo Clinic | Potential Immunotherapy Drug Combination for Targeting Advanced and Metastatic Cancers

Abstract of Definitive activation of endogenous antitumor immunity by repetitive cycles of cyclophosphamide with interspersed Toll-like receptor agonists

Many cancers both evoke and subvert endogenous anti-tumor immunity. However, immunosuppression can be therapeutically reversed in subsets of cancer patients by treatments such as checkpoint inhibitors or Toll-like receptor agonists (TLRa). Moreover, chemotherapy can leukodeplete immunosuppressive host elements, including myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and regulatory T-cells (Tregs). We hypothesized that chemotherapy-induced leukodepletion could be immunopotentiated by co-administering TLRa to emulate a life-threatening infection. Combining CpG (ODN 1826) or CpG+poly(I:C) with cyclophosphamide (CY) resulted in uniquely well-tolerated therapeutic synergy, permanently eradicating advanced mouse tumors including 4T1 (breast), Panc02 (pancreas) and CT26 (colorectal). Definitive treatment required endogenous CD8+ and CD4+ IFNγ-producing T-cells. Tumor-specific IFNγ-producing T-cells persisted during CY-induced leukopenia, whereas Tregs were progressively eliminated, especially intratumorally. Spleen-associated MDSCs were cyclically depleted by CY+TLRa treatment, with residual monocytic MDSCs requiring only continued exposure to CpG or CpG+IFNγ to effectively attack malignant cells while sparing non-transformed cells. Such tumor destruction occurred despite upregulated tumor expression of Programmed Death Ligand-1, but could be blocked by clodronate-loaded liposomes to deplete phagocytic cells or by nitric oxide synthase inhibitors. CY+TLRa also induced tumoricidal myeloid cells in naive mice, indicating that CY+TLRa’s immunomodulatory impacts occurred in the complete absence of tumor-bearing, and that tumor-induced MDSCs were not an essential source of tumoricidal myeloid precursors. Repetitive CY+TLRa can therefore modulate endogenous immunity to eradicate advanced tumors without vaccinations or adoptive T-cell therapy. Human blood monocytes could be rendered similarly tumoricidal during in vitro activation with TLRa+IFNγ, underscoring the potential therapeutic relevance of these mouse tumor studies to cancer patients.

Categories: Science

How President Jimmy Carter Saved The Space Shuttle

Slashdot - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 7:00am
MarkWhittington writes: Eric Berger has published an account in Ars Technica about how President Jimmy Carter saved the space shuttle program. The article is well worth reading for its detail. In essence, around 1978 the space shuttle program had undergone a crisis with technical challenges surrounding its heat-resistant tiles and its reusable rocket engines and cost overruns. President Carter was not all that enthused about human space flight to begin with, adhering to the since discredited notion that robotic space probes were adequate for exploring the universe. His vice president, Walter Mondale, was a vehement foe of human space flight programs, maintaining that money spent on them were better used for social programs.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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NASA Is Ready to Start Building Its Life-Hunting 2020 Mars Rover - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 6:33am
NASA's life-hunting 2020 Mars rover has cleared an extensive review process and is now ready to begin the final design and construction phase, agency officials announced today (July 15).
Categories: Science

Why your immune system may control your social behavior

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 5:43am

Normal brain activity (credit: University of Virginia Health System)

In a discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found that the immune system directly affects — and even controls — our social behavior, such as our desire to interact with others. That finding could have significant implications for neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, the researchers suggest.

“The brain and the adaptive immune system were thought to be isolated from each other, and any immune activity in the brain was perceived as sign of a pathology. And now, not only are we showing that they are closely interacting, but some of our behavior traits might have evolved because of our immune response to pathogens,” explained Jonathan Kipnis, chair of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience.

“It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system.”

Evolutionary forces linking brains and pathogens

KurzweilAI has cited supporting evidence for that idea. For example, permanent stress may affect immune cells in the brain, leading to mental disorders and protective immune microglia cells also have direct involvement in creating the cellular networks at the core of brain behavior.

Last year, Kipnis, the director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, and his team discovered that meningeal membranes (covering the brain and spinal cord) in the brain directly link the brain with the lymphatic system. That overturned decades of textbook teaching that the brain lacks a direct connection to the immune system.

Now, the researchers suggest, the relationship between people and pathogens could have directly affected the development of our social behavior. Social behavior (which is necessary for the survival of the species) allows pathogens to spread, so our immune systems may have developed to protect us from the diseases that accompany those interactions.

Specifically, the UVA researchers have now shown that a specific immune molecule, interferon gamma, seems to be critical for social behavior, and that a variety of creatures, such as flies, zebrafish, mice and rats, activate interferon gamma responses (as protection) when they are social.

Normally, this molecule is produced by the immune system in response to bacteria, viruses or parasites. But blocking the molecule in mice using genetic modification also made regions of the brain hyperactive, causing the mice to become less social. Restoring the molecule restored the brain connectivity and behavior to normal.

A hyperactive brain, triggered by a blocked immune system, may lead to less-social behavior (credit: University of Virginia Health System)

In a Nature paper outlining their findings, the researchers note the immune molecule plays a “profound role in maintaining proper social function.”

“It’s extremely critical for an organism to be social for the survival of the species. It’s important for foraging, sexual reproduction, gathering, hunting,” said Anthony J. Filiano, Hartwell postdoctoral fellow in the Kipnis lab and lead author of the study. “The hypothesis is that when organisms come together, you have a higher propensity to spread infection — you need to be social, but [in doing so] you have a higher chance of spreading pathogens.” Which explains why “interferon gamma, in evolution, has been used as a more efficient way to both boost social behavior while boosting an anti-pathogen response.”

Immune-system failure leads to social deficits

The researchers explain that a malfunctioning immune system may be responsible for “social deficits in numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders.” But exactly what this might mean for autism and other specific conditions requires further investigation.

It is unlikely that any one molecule will be responsible for disease or the key to a cure. The researchers believe that the causes are likely to be much more complex. But the discovery that the immune system — and possibly pathogens, by extension — can control our interactions raises many exciting avenues for scientists to explore, both in terms of battling neurological disorders and understanding human behavior.

Kipnis and his team worked closely with UVA’s Department of Pharmacology and with Vladimir Litvak’s research group at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Litvak’s team developed a computational approach to investigate the complex dialogue between immune signaling and brain function in health and disease.

“Using this approach we predicted a role for interferon gamma, an important cytokine secreted by T lymphocytes, in promoting social brain functions,” Litvak said. “Our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of social dysfunction in neurological disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, and may open new avenues for therapeutic approaches.”

The work was supported by NIH grants and the Hartwell Foundation.

Medicine Virginia | Shocking New Role Found for the Immune System: Controlling Social Interactions

Abstract of Unexpected role of interferon-γ in regulating neuronal connectivity and social behaviour

Immune dysfunction is commonly associated with several neurological and mental disorders. Although the mechanisms by which peripheral immunity may influence neuronal function are largely unknown, recent findings implicate meningeal immunity influencing behaviour, such as spatial learning and memory1. Here we show that meningeal immunity is also critical for social behaviour; mice deficient in adaptive immunity exhibit social deficits and hyper-connectivity of fronto-cortical brain regions. Associations between rodent transcriptomes from brain and cellular transcriptomes in response to T-cell-derived cytokines suggest a strong interaction between social behaviour and interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-driven responses. Concordantly, we demonstrate that inhibitory neurons respond to IFN-γ and increase GABAergic (γ-aminobutyric-acid) currents in projection neurons, suggesting that IFN-γ is a molecular link between meningeal immunity and neural circuits recruited for social behaviour. Meta-analysis of the transcriptomes of a range of organisms reveals that rodents, fish, and flies elevate IFN-γ/JAK-STAT-dependent gene signatures in a social context, suggesting that the IFN-γ signalling pathway could mediate a co-evolutionary link between social/aggregation behaviour and an efficient anti-pathogen response. This study implicates adaptive immune dysfunction, in particular IFN-γ, in disorders characterized by social dysfunction and suggests a co-evolutionary link between social behaviour and an anti-pathogen immune response driven by IFN-γ signalling.

Categories: Science

Britain Selects US, French, British Teams to Study Spaceport Feasibility - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 5:14am
The British government has awarded feasibility-study contracts to five industrial teams that want to operate orbital or suborbital launch vehicles from British territory on a commercial basis.
Categories: Science

DNA origami creates a microscopic glowing Van Gogh

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 4:52am

This reproduction of van Gogh’s The Starry Night contains 65,536 glowing pixels but is just the width of a dime across, as a proof-of-concept of precision placement of DNA origami (credit: Paul Rothemund and Ashwin Gopinath/Caltech)

Using folded DNA to precisely place glowing molecules within microscopic light resonators, researchers at Caltech have created one of the world’s smallest reproductions of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The feat is a proof-of-concept of how precision placement of DNA origami can be used to build hybrid nanophotonic devices at smaller scales than ever before.

DNA origami, developed 10 years ago by Caltech’s research professor Paul Rothemund, is a technique that allows researchers to fold (in a test tube) a long strand of self-assembling DNA into any desired shape. The folded DNA then acts as a scaffold (support) onto which researchers can attach nanometer-scale components. KurzweilAI has reported extensively on DNA origami — most recently, an automated design method for creating nanoparticles for drug delivery and cell targeting, nanoscale robots, custom-tailored optical devices, and DNA as a data storage medium, for example.

Meanwhile, over the last seven years, Rothemund and associates have refined and extended DNA orgami so that DNA shapes can be precisely positioned on almost any surface used in the manufacture of computer chips. Now, in a Nature paper on July 11, they report the first application of the technique — using DNA origami to install fluorescent molecules into microscopic light sources for use in single-molecule detection, quantum computers, and other applications.

The work was supported by the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation.

Abstract of Engineering and mapping nanocavity emission via precision placement of DNA origami

Many hybrid devices integrate functional molecular or nanoparticle components with microstructures, as exemplified by the nanophotonic devices that couple emitters to optical resonators for potential use in single-molecule detection, precision magnetometry, low threshold lasing and quantum information processing. These systems also illustrate a common difficulty for hybrid devices: although many proof-of-principle devices exist, practical applications face the challenge of how to incorporate large numbers of chemically diverse functional components into microfabricated resonators at precise locations. Here we show that the directed self-assembly of DNA origami onto lithographically patterned binding sites allows reliable and controllable coupling of molecular emitters to photonic crystal cavities (PCCs). The precision of this method is sufficient to enable us to visualize the local density of states within PCCs by simple wide-field microscopy and to resolve the antinodes of the cavity mode at a resolution of about one-tenth of a wavelength. By simply changing the number of binding sites, we program the delivery of up to seven DNA origami onto distinct antinodes within a single cavity and thereby digitally vary the intensity of the cavity emission. To demonstrate the scalability of our technique, we fabricate 65,536 independently programmed PCCs on a single chip. These features, in combination with the widely used modularity of DNA origami, suggest that our method is well suited for the rapid prototyping of a broad array of hybrid nanophotonic devices.

Categories: Science

Clever AI Turns a World of Lasers Into Maps for Self-Driving Cars

Wired News - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 4:01am
With a fresh pile of cash, startup Civil Maps is racing Google, Here, and others to teach self-driving cars to see and understand their world. The post Clever AI Turns a World of Lasers Into Maps for Self-Driving Cars appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

A Smaller Version of Raspberry Pi 3 Is Coming Soon

Slashdot - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 3:30am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: A smaller version of the popular Raspberry Pi 3 will go on sale in a few months. Raspberry Pi is developing a new version of its Compute Module, a single-board computer that plugs into specific on-board memory slots. The new Pi will be more like a mini-computer inside a computer, and it won't come with a power supply. The Compute Module will have similar circuitry to that of Raspberry Pi 3, a wildly successful computer that can be a PC replacement. But it will be smaller, with the memory, CPU, and storage embedded tightly on a board. While the Compute Module will have a 64-bit ARM processor like the Pi 3, it won't have Wi-Fi, Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi, said in an interview with IDG News Service. The Compute Module could ship as soon as this quarter, Upton said. It will be priced similar to its predecessor, the 2-year-old Compute Module, available from reseller RS Components for about $24. The older Compute Module is based on the original Raspberry Pi. Like Raspberry Pi 3, the new Compute Module will work with Linux and Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core, Upton said. A Compute Module Development Kit, in which the Compute Module can be slotted for testing, may also be sold. The Development Kit could have multiple connectivity and port options, much like the Raspberry Pi 3. Last month, the biggest manufacturer of the Raspberry Pi, Premier Farnell, was acquired by Swiss industrial component supplier Daetwyler Holding AG for roughly $871 million.

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Theresa May Reshuffles Cabinet, Warns Amazon and Google of Power Shift

Slashdot - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 1:25am
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: British Prime Minister Theresa May has given a stern warning to big business, telling the public to "think not of the powerful, but you." Specifically, she singled out Google and Amazon for dodging taxes and creating a lot of parliamentary scrutiny. Ars Technica reports: "May has been quick to stamp her brand of conservatism on her party by letting go of key members of Cameron's cabinet. She has so far sacked big hitters such as chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, justice secretary Michael Gove, and culture secretary John Whittingdale. Philip Hammond now has the keys to Number 11, but we're still waiting to hear who will replace Whittingdale, whose remit included the rollout of super fast broadband in the UK. He's also the man behind the White Paper on the future of the BBC, which sought radical changes at the public service broadcaster. So far, 10 cabinet positions have been announced by May. They include Justine Greening as secretary of state for education, and Liz Truss becomes justice secretary, while former London mayor and key Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson -- to the surprise of many -- now heads up the foreign office. May has handed her home secretary job to Amber Rudd -- who will now be responsible for the government's push for greater online surveillance laws. Rudd was previously the minister for energy and climate change." David Davis is now in charge of withdrawing the UK from the European Union. David has for many years "opposed the government's attempts to bring in a so-called Snoopers' Charter." Ars Technica writes, "He's also currently suing the UK government over DRIPA -- legislation that was rushed through by the Tories after the European Court of Justice had ruled that the Data Retention Directive was invalid for failing to have adequate privacy safeguards in place."

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Emirati Man Gets 3-Month Prison Sentence Over Instagram Insult

Slashdot - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 12:45am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A state-owned newspaper in the United Arab Emirates is reporting that an Emirati man has received a three-month prison sentence and a fine after being convicted of insulting his brother on Instagram. The Arabic-language newspaper Al Etihad reported on Thursday that the man's brother became upset after finding his photo on his brother's Instagram account with an expletive as the caption. The newspaper says the unidentified defendant also must pay a 250,000-dirham ($68,000) fine under the sentence from the Khor Fakkan Court of Misdemeanors. The newspaper says the defendant planned to appeal. In other insult-related stories, we asked Slashdotters back in April, "What are some insults no developer wants to hear?" Some of the standout responses include: "Wow this is microsoft quality!" and "It compiled cleanly, so he shipped it."

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NVIDIA's Releases Its First VR Game, Along With An Interactive Screenshot Tool 'Ansel'

Slashdot - Fri, 15/07/2016 - 12:05am
Deathspawner writes: NVIDIA has today released a Game Ready GeForce driver that introduces its interactive screenshot tool 'Ansel.' Named after famed photographer Ansel Adams, this new tool requires a developer to integrate up to a couple hundred lines of code to give players the ability to pause their game, move around the environment, and then capture a more "artistic" image. To further that artistic value, users will have the ability to apply filters as well as capture an image in high-res 360 mode so that they can be viewed properly with a virtual-reality (VR) headset. Currently, Ansel supports only a single game -- Mirror's Edge Catalyst -- but NVIDIA promises that many more supported titles are on the way. In addition, NVIDIA has released its first ever video game via Steam that just so happens to be a VR game. The game is called VR Funhouse and is available for free via Steam but is only playable on the HTC Vive. The game consists of a virtual-reality carnival and employs many NVIDIA graphics technologies, like collision-based haptic feedback and advanced physics simulation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Public health benefits of e-cigarette use tend to outweigh the harms

Science Daily - Thu, 14/07/2016 - 11:36pm
A modeling study by top tobacco control experts finds that e-cigarettes are likely to provide public health benefits based on "conservative estimates" of the likely uptake of vaping and smoking by adolescents and young adults. If used instead of smoking, e-cigarettes provide the potential to reduce harm and improve public health, says the lead author.
Categories: Science

Red meat consumption linked with increased risk of developing kidney failure

Science Daily - Thu, 14/07/2016 - 11:36pm
Red meat intake was strongly associated with an increased risk of kidney failure among Chinese adults in Singapore who were followed for an average of 15.5 years, a new report suggests. No association was found with intakes of poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy products, while soy and legumes appeared to be slightly protective.
Categories: Science

World's greatest concentration of unique mammal species is on Philippine island

Science Daily - Thu, 14/07/2016 - 11:34pm
Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, is home to the world's greatest concentration of unique mammal species -- 93 percent of the land mammals there are found nowhere else. A new paper announces that 52 of the island's 56 non-flying mammals live nowhere else in the world. Of these 56 species, 28 were discovered during the course of the 15-year project. The study provides insight into how island evolution works, and could inform future conservation efforts.
Categories: Science

The Eerie Aftermath of a Bastille Day Tragedy in Nice, France

Wired News - Thu, 14/07/2016 - 11:32pm
This evening, a truck barreled into a crowd in Nice, France. Early reports say at least 70 people died. This photo is among the first from the scene. The post The Eerie Aftermath of a Bastille Day Tragedy in Nice, France appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science