Spiceworks: A new Intel vPro Technology solution for SMB IT Professionals

first_imgSpiceworks IT Desktop for SMB IT ProfessionalsSmall to medium sized companies are proliferated with technically savvy one man shops, that are burdened with slim budgets and no-one to fall back on when faced with new problems or technology. Over the years they have learned to just buckle down and figure it out the hard way; wading through technology manuals, slogging through articles and blogs on the internet, or find a peer to share information and BKMs. We recently started working with an ISV that has a new economy twist to help this under-served group of hard-working professionals. The Spiceworks IT Desktop is a “free” application suite that will automatically inventory, monitor, troubleshoot, report on and run a help desk for their IT networks. The application is connected to a professional online community where users can share ideas on best practices; collaborate on IT projects, rate and review products, and form groups around particular areas of interest with companies like them. Of course, nothing is REALLY free, over 150 advertising sponsors (including Intel) support the cost of developing the tool, and you must agree to providing anonymous data about the inventory in your network; kind of like that company that records what you watch on your television (like how I got around permission to use their name?). This is not a cloud based solution, like a newsgroup or a search engine. You download the application onto a single desktop and run it from there; the ads are pulled down from the Spiceworks servers, statistical data is forwarded back, and you have a direct link to the community.Power Manager Plug-in sponsored by Intel The Power Manager extension can be used to track overall power-savings due to turning a group of machines on/off per a set schedule. This extension will load a widget on your Spiceworks dashboard that shows you 3 things:1. Visually what schedule/time the machines managed by the extension should be on/off. 2. Red-Dot – tells you exactly what machines are on/off at the current time.3. Dollar Savings – using some estimates of price/kwh and watts used per device; an estimate of dollars saved per day/month is given. The plug-in will turn machines off (per a schedule) and then use Intel vPro Technology to turn the machines back on (per a schedule). It will then use those numbers to calculate power saved as well as money saved (estimates of course). The graph that is shown is really telling you what should happen as a result of the schedule you put in place; the RED DOT tells you specifically which machines are actually up/down at the current time… So in a perfect world, the RED DOT should be very close (or on top of) the graph/line. If it isn’t, that tells you that some machines are off or on that shouldn’t be… The extension has some very basic defaults for price/kwh as well as watts used by machines in the suspended state, these are for reference only and are clearly not precise (but it is enough to get you started). Future Plug-insCurrently, the Spiceworks IT Desktop supports Discovery of PCs that may have Intel vPro Technology installed, and/or provisioned. More functionality will be added to the list, including a Scheduled Maintenance Plug-in, Hardware Inventory and a remote control console for connecting to a PC, but below the OS; see the POST messages, edit the BIOS, boot to a text-based diagnostic image. Look for blogs over the next few months.About SpiceworksSince 2006, the Spiceworks IT Desktop user base has grown to 830,000+ IT professionals in 196 countries worldwide. This includes 77,500 Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who rely on the software to manage and support client networks. Together these organizations use Spiceworks to support 28 million employees and manage 45 million computers and devices. http://www.spiceworks.comlast_img read more

Beyond One Hundred: Chip Chat Breaks 100 episodes!

first_imgWhat is 100 to you? One hundred millimeters make a centimeter, and one hundred centimeters make a meter.  How about one hundred podcasts, what does that make?  To Allyson Klein Director of Technology Leadership Marketing at Intel, blogger, podcaster, and host, it makes Intel® Chip Chat. Chip Chat is a podcast series covering a variety of subjects highlighting the rock stars of technology and generally the brightest minds in the industry.  Since it started in 2007 the series has focused on brining listeners one-on-one with the men and women behind the innovations and inspirations that make the future of computing.As Allyson has already said in her post, she got to talk with executive vice president David “Dadi” Perlmutter.  She also touched on the fact that she met with other technologists and technology rock stars in attendance, a preview of that line-up is:Intel Chip Chat in Session at IDF 2010: Randy ChanGenevieve BellTom Stachura Congratulations to Allyson and Intel Chip Chat!  Remember to catch this great line up of interviews and more check out Chip Chat at its home on intel.com, and on iTunes.  In episode 101 Allyson sits down with Sunil Ahluwalia from the LAN Access Division to discuss Fibre Channel over Ethernet.  Keep up on all the Chip Chat news on Twitter, Facebook, and of course at the Server Room. Bob BeauchampCarl HansenJustin Rattnerlast_img read more

SITA Standardizes on Intel® Xeon® for a Flexible Cloud Computing Environment

first_imgAirline communications and IT provider SITA wanted to enhance business flexibility by building a cloud computing infrastructure with the scalability to meet growing demands and the flexibility to accommodate the fast-changing air transport industry. It also wanted to define a  reference architecture for running mission-critical solutions that could deliver the performance to process complex transactions with low latency. Finally, it needed to make sure its infrastructure was efficient enough to reduce operating expenses and keep transaction costs low.The solution was IBM BladeCenter* servers with the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series, which SITA chose as the reference architecture for its cloud computing environment and its grid-based international fares pricing solution.“Using IBM BladeCenter servers with the Intel Xeon processor 5600 series enables us to provide a tremendous amount of processing performance in a highly compressed footprint,” explained Chris Lofton, head of technology planning for SITA. “We are delivering better performance for mission-critical applications while substantially reducing our infrastructure.”For details, read our new SITA business success story. As always, you can find this one, and many more, in the Intel.com Reference Room and IT Center.*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.last_img read more

Intel Goes Platinum for OpenDaylight Project (ODL)

first_imgThis blog is a summary of a conversation between Uri Elzur, Director of SDN architecture and OpenDaylight Board Member and Chris Buerger, Technologist within Intel’s Software-Defined Networking Division (SDND) marketing team. It outlines the motivation and plans driving Intel’s decision to increase its OpenDaylight Project membership to Platinum.Chris: Intel has been a member of the OpenDaylight Project since its inception. We are now announcing a significant increase in our membership level to Platinum. Explain the reasoning behind the decision to raise Intel’s investment into ODL.Uri: At Intel, we have been outlining our vision for Software Defined Infrastructure or SDI. This vision is taking a new approach to developing data center infrastructure to make it more agile so it works in a more automatic fashion to better meet the requirements that shape the data centers of tomorrow.  Some of us fondly call the force shaping it  ‘cloudification. ’SDI is uniquely meeting customer needs at both the top and the bottom line. Top line refers to greater agility and speed to develop data center scale applications, which in turn allows accelerated revenue generation across a larger number of our customers as well as the introduction of new, cloud-centric business models. At the same time, SDI also uniquely allows for the reduction of total cost of ownership for both service providers and their end-user customers. Service Providers are under intense competitive pressure to reduce cost, be it the cost of a unit of compute or, at a higher level, cost for a unit of application where an application includes compute, network, and storage.Mapping this back to SDN and OpenDaylight, it is important to Intel to help our customers to quickly and efficiently benefit from this new infrastructure. To do that, we need to support both open and closed source efforts. OpenDaylight represents an open source community that has been very successful in attracting a set of industry contributors and that has also started to attract large end-user customers. At this point in time, we see our efforts across multiple SDI layers that also include OpenStack and OpenVSwitch in addition to OpenDaylight come together in a coordinated way. This allows us to expose platform capabilities all the way to the top of the SDI stack. For example, by allowing applications to ‘talk back’ to the infrastructure to express their needs and intents, we are leveraging the capabilities of the SDN controller to optimally enable Network Function Virtualization workloads on standard high volume servers. This gives cloud service operators, telecommunication providers and enterprise users’ superior support for these critical services, including SLA, latency and jitter control, and support for higher bandwidths like 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet. Among open source SDN controllers, OpenDaylight has shown healthy growth based on the successful application of open source principles such as meritocracy. We are excited about the opportunities to work with the OpenDaylight community as part of our wider SDI vision.Chris: As Intel’s representative on the Board of the OpenDaylight Project, what do you envision as the key areas of technical engagement for Intel in 2015?Uri: Keeping our customer needs and the wider SDI vision in mind, our first priority is to really exercise the pieces that the community has put together in OpenDaylight on standard high volume servers to deliver the benefits of SDN to end-users. We are also going to work with our community partners as well as end-user customers to identify, validate, and enhance workloads that are important to them – i.e. optimize the hardware and software on our platform to better support them. For example, take a look at the work being done in the recently announced OPNFV initiative. We are planning to take use cases from there and help the community optimize the low-level mechanisms that are needed in an SDN controller and further to the Chris:  The enablement of a vibrant ecosystem of contributors and end-users is critical to the success of open source projects. What role do you see Intel playing in further accelerating the proliferation of ODL?Uri: We think Intel has a lot to bring to the table in terms of making the ODL community even more successful. Intel has relationships with customers in all of the market segments where an SDN controller will be used. We have also demonstrated our ability to create environments where the industry can test drive cutting edge new technologies before they go to market. For SDI, for example we created the Intel® Cloud Builders and Intel® Network Builders ecosystem initiatives to not only test the SDN controller, but couple it with a more complete and realistic software stack (SDI stack) and a set of particular workloads as well as Intel platform enhancements to establish performance, scalability and interoperability best practices for complex data center systems. And bringing this experience to OpenDaylight accelerates the enablement of our SDI vision.Chris:  Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization capabilities are defined, enabled and commercialized on the basis of a multitude of standards and open source initiatives. How do you see Intel’s ODL engagement fitting within the wider efforts to contribute to SDN- and NFV-driven network transformation?Uri: Our answer to this question has multiple parts. One change that we have seen over the last few months is a shift in organizations such as ETSI NFV that, while always considering SDN to be reasonably important, never placed much emphasis on the SDN controller. This has changed. The ETSI NFV community has come to terms with the idea that if you want scalability, a rich set of features, automation and service agility, then you need an SDN controller such as OpenDaylight as part of the solution stack. And we believe that ETSI represents a community that wants to use the combination of OpenDaylight, OpenStack and a scalable, high-performing virtual switch on low cost, high volume server platforms.We have also observed some interesting dynamics between open source and standards developing organizations. What we are witnessing is that open source is becoming the lingua franca, a blueprint of how interested developers demonstrate their ideas to the rest of the industry as well as their customers. Open source promotes interoperability, promotes collaboration between people working together to get to working code and then it is presented to the standard bodies. What excites us about OpenDaylight is that as a project it has also been very successful in working with both OpenStack and OpenVswitch, incorporating standards such as Openflow and OVSDB. Moreover, interesting new work on service chaining and policies is happening in both OpenDaylight as well as OpenStack. And all of these initiatives align with network management modelling schemas coming out of the IETF and TOSCA.All of these initiatives are creating a working software defined infrastructure that is automated and that helps to achieve the top and bottom line objectives, we mentioned. OpenDaylight is a central component to Intel’s SDI vision and we are excited about the possibilities that we can achieve together.last_img read more

SGI’s solution to scale I/O on NVMe RAID.

first_imgAbout a year ago, I was excited to see SGI announcing its UV300 system at SC14. At that stage the system was in the prototype stage, not productized, but what they demonstrated at their booth amazed me. The system included 64 Intel Solid State Drive Data Center P3700 Series NVMe drives, which were launched in June 2014. Cutting edge single image system with corresponding drives.Besides the unique features of the SGI300 platform that combines 32 sockets of Intel Xeon E7 with NUMAlink interconnect, that’s an amazing platform to see how far we can scale the performance of the multiple NVMe SSDs in the system. That’s exactly what the company did at SC14- demonstrated how far we can scale raw I/O performance by a factor of NVMe SSDs in the system.  With the NUMA optimized NVMe driver SGI was able to achieve a record number of 30 Million IOPS on a 4k Random Reads (64 SSDs) and prove linear performance scalability.               SOURCE:  https://communities.intel.com/community/itpeernetwork/blog/2014/11/15/sgi-has-built-a-revolutionary-system-for-nvme-storage-scaling-at-sc14Next step, which is very logical, was to understand the limitations of a file system level, determine its overhead for the maximum bandwidth and IOPS bottleneck on the 4k random workloads. Obviously, there are some challenges here. Having a single file system across a number of NVMe SSDs requires a way to combine it into a single volume. This can be a part of file system functionality LVM or a separate SW RAID built for the purpose. MD Raid can be an option here. It’s a generic Linux SW RAID implementation. In fact, Intel has implemented the extensions to it in “imsm” container options for SATA and recently introduced it for NVMe.From here I want to refer to SGI’s blog (http://blog.sgi.com/delivering-performance-of-modern-storage-hardware-to-applicationsOpens in a new window) on a recent MD Raid study and XFS file system modifications. They identified the bottleneck for a standard Raid0 implementation in the way of I/O submission, which can be an issue to scale massive NVMe configurations. This resulted in proprietary SGI’s extension in XFS, which is a part of eXFS with extended support of MD RAID with NVMe SSDs. This allows users to continue scaling of I/O parallelism introduced in NVMe specifications.               SOURCE:  http://blog.sgi.com/delivering-performance-of-modern-storage-hardware-to-applicationsOpens in a new window Hard to believe? Come to SGI’s booth at SC15 and talk to them about it.last_img read more

Hour of Code – a walkthrough for teachers

first_imgIf you would like to receive further updates on events like the Hour of Code and other topics at the cutting edge of Ed tech then sign up to our Intel Education newsletter. Teachers can also sign up to our Teachers Engage platform where you’ll find discussion, resources and lesson plans related to digital citizenship and dozens of other topics – all for free.We’d also love to hear from you via our Twitter or Facebook pages. If you’re one of the 200,000 people who follow our Twitter feed, you may have seen that this week is Computer Science Education Week. As part of this, code.org runs its Hour of Code campaign designed to get people everywhere to participate in a coding session. Over 2,000 of these are taking place this week in the UK alone, and the website contains everything even the most code-phobic teachers need to get started. Edutopia has another great piece with a roundup of resources.If you’re still wary about taking the plunge, why not check out this ten-minute video from Deb Norton. As Deb says: “For many educators, committing to doing an hour of code with our students can take us a bit out of our comfort zone because we haven’t experienced coding before.” Never fear! She’ll walk you through what she does in her Wisconsin classroom using a website called CodeHS. Her other tutorials can be found here.last_img read more

Bright Lights, Smart City

first_imgAccording to the Smart Cities Council, a city becomes smart when it uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability. Smart cities have been described as an urban Internet of Things (IoT), and of the billions of objects predicted to be connected to the Internet by 2050, many will be the street furniture we take for granted – from traffic lights to rubbish bins. But in the discussions about the IoT, the data it produces, the analysis it enables, the secure connectivity and the need for interoperability, it can be easy to lose sight of what the smart city means for those that will experience it every day: the city’s residents and its businesses.Getting real about smartThroughout EMEA, Intel IoT Ignition Labs are working on just that idea: working out which solutions will have a real and positive impact on the lives of city-dwellers, and how they will do it. The Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities is also conducting research and using London as a test bed.London is also home to the Intel-sponsored Cognicity Challenge, which provides insight into very real ways in which a smart city can improve life for its inhabitants. Its goal is to accelerate deployment of smart city technologies by testing out the most encouraging projects in business and residential districts of Canary Wharf.One of the winners in the Integrated Resource Management category of the Cognicity Challenge is SeAB Energy, a company with the technology to turn bio waste into biogas and ultimately free electricity and heat. Because the technology (the MuckBuster and the Flexibuster) is small enough to be installed on local sites, waste disposal – and traffic – costs can be reduced. The by-product can be sold on as fertilizer: maximizing use of resources, and creating an extra revenue stream from the waste material.Urbanization and the circular economyWhat’s interesting about the SeAB project is that it reflects a number of key points about the development of the smart city.First of all, the need to manage waste and resources effectively is a key driver. As urban populations get bigger, cities need to deal with more people, more traffic, more pollutants and more energy consumption in a scalable and sustainable way. Cities occupy approximately three percent of the earth’s surface, but produce 50 percent of global waste, account for 60-80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions; and consume 75 percent of natural resources. That’s not surprising, now that urban dwellers out-number rural communities. (According to the UN, approximately 54 percent of the global population now lives in cities – a number that is expected to rise to 66 percent by 2050).The second point is that smart cities have a crucial role to play in delivering on what the EU calls the circular economy. Eighty percent of global GDP is produced in cities, and the European Commission believes the circular economy, in which waste is considered a valuable resource, is a key plank in creating a more efficient and competitive future for Europe. Economically viable waste management reflects exactly this goal.Collaborating for resultsThe third is the need for departments within the city authority to work together to achieve their goals. Solutions like SeAB’s cut across city’s plans for environment, transport, planning and construction. Data sourced by one department is likely to be of value to colleagues in another. Cross-departmental collaboration is essential.This is what the City of San Jose is doing. With Intel, it has entered a public-private partnership project to further its Green Vision initiative. The project will help drive economic growth, foster 25,000 CleanTech jobs, create environmental sustainability and enhance the quality of life for its citizens – and has already been recognized by the White House as part of its Smart America initiative.Powering the visionWe can see from the Cognicity Challenge, and Intel’s research that multiple initiatives from various sources will be needed to create smarter, more comfortable and more environmentally sustainable cities. Whether driven centrally by the city authority or by the coming together of private initiatives, there is a broad ecosystem involved.For example, when it comes to more effective use of electricity – another key driver for smart city development – companies like Rudin in New York are exploring how the IoT and machine learning can improve productivity and efficiency in its buildings. A leading private manager of business and residential property in Manhattan, Rudin has developed an operational efficiency tool, Di-BOSS, that is based on the Intel IoT Gateway and which has already helped achieve seven percent savings in energy consumption. On the residential front, homes are being transformed by automation systems such as Yoga Smart Home – also based on the Intel IoT Gateway.Uniquely smart, distinctly intelligentThe important point is that livable, dynamic cities evolve over time and take into account the needs of their citizens. The move to smart is the next step in that evolution – and it is an evolution. Discrete elements are built up, with new layers of intelligence and new connections added over time.In reality, we don’t really know exactly what the smart city will look like – there will be as many versions of the smart city as there are smart cities, with each developing its own unique vision to attract residents, businesses and workers.As the possibilities of IoT expand, so more of our daily lives will be encompassed by the smart city concept. The solutions highlighted by the Cognicity Challenge are part of the story. There are others in development – but what they will all have in common is the flexibility needed to fit into any number of city implementations in order to be commercially viable.What do you think? Will environmental issues be the key driver of the smart city? How do government departments collaborate more effectively on innovative technology? What’s the quickest road to really intelligent cities? Have your say in the comments below.Rob Sheppard is IoT Product and Solutions Manager at Intel EMEA. Keep up with him on Twitter (@sheppardi) or check out his other posts on IT Peer Network.last_img read more

AI is Turning the Page of Digital Signage

first_imgIf you’re in retail, you’ve probably heard it before: Personalization matters. Tailoring the shopping experience to meet customers’ expectations and deliver what they need before they know they need it is key to success in a competitive retail environment. Because of this desire to meet — and exceed — customer expectations, there’s also a move in retail to bring the online experience into the physical store.That’s where digital signage comes in. Digital signage can provide customers with product and reviews, interactive experiences, tailored offers, and more. As the collection and analysis of customer data advances, artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to play a larger role in digital signage, too — a trend powered by Intel technologyOpens in a new window.AI Meets Digital Signage at the StoreYou’ve probably seen digital signage in a variety of places: hospitals, airports, and malls for starters. These signs have been used for years to convey information such as directions or promotions in places where people will see them. In some cases, these signs have allowed people to search for information or get answers to questions.In retail, digital signage has taken a leap forward with the help of new technologies and anonymous data analytics. Footwear maker Adidas, for example, created a Virtual Footwear WallOpens in a new window for some of the brand’s retail stores using a touchscreen digital display and Intel-powered technology. The wall allowed customers to select shoe models, view them from all angles, and see product information. Using anonymous, built-in video analytics, the company gathered data so it could provide customers with personalized experiences.Like Adidas, many retailers collect demographic data such as age and gender and use it to create relevant content for customers on digital signage. It’s common for retailers to use intelligent scheduling software that can present content based on trends in customer data. In some cases, customers will even see content chosen for them while they’re shopping in real time.The concept of AI being used for tasks like self-checkout and answering customer questions isn’t new. But as we can see, AI is also starting analyze more data in less time, produce deeper insights, and continuously learn how to adapt to customer audiences so retailers can use signage to create more personalized shopping experiences.Artificial Intelligence in Programmatic AdvertisingAI also plays an important role in advertising. We’ve already seen this technology roll out online for programmatic display ads. AI helps with online ad campaign managementOpens in a new window by employing machine learning algorithms that can deliver relevant content and make real-time bidding more efficient. AI generally serves to make advertisements online more personalized, presenting high-quality ads to the right consumers at the right times.AI has begun to play a similar role in advertising on digital signage, using data about sign viewers to display targeted ads and offers. Retailers can now participate in programmatic advertising, placing ads on digital screens out in the world, similar to the way they would online.Within their own stores, retailers also use demographic data to decide what ads or promotions to present to customers at certain locations. Other times, retailers even use video analytics to decide which ad to show to a person standing in front of a sign in real time.Why does this matter? Companies can start using digital signageOpens in a new window to target motivated customers already in stores. Take this example from Rite Aid: The company used a digital signage display to present coupons to customers based on demographic data. This meant they could show an ad for reading glasses, for example, to older shoppers entering the store rather than to teenagers, making it more likely the ad would lead to a purchase.As these applications demonstrate, many opportunities exist for retailers to use AI to deliver timely, appropriate advertisements, and it’s pretty certain we’ll be seeing more of this in the future.Build Better Digital Experiences With IntelRetailers want engaged customers, and shoppers want retailers to engage them. Digital signage with AI technology provides a platform for retailers to take shopping experiences to a new level, wowing customers with unique interactions and exceptional service. If retailers continue to take advantage of data and AI, their digital signage could play a key role in driving sales. To get started, learn more about Intel’s digital signage platformsOpens in a new window. Then head over to our retail solutions portalOpens in a new window to see all the ways Intel is working with retailers to transform the industry.last_img read more

Get Ready for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

first_imgThe topic of artificial intelligence (AI) is of great interest worldwide. As all industries undergo a digital transformation, they are finding that the ability to use data is both a competitive advantage and strategic imperative. Healthcare is certainly no exception. In this first part of a two-part blog series, I will discuss some of the technologies that make up artificial intelligence, and in the second post present five use cases for AI technology in healthcare.The StageWithin healthcare, as in many industries today, we are seeing a massive digital transformation taking place. A key driver for this is a need to manage costs and improve access against a backdrop of an aging population with increasing prevalence of chronic disease.Digital solutions like telemedicine, wearables, and remote sensors are opening the door to innovation around patient engagement and preventative care.And, we’re racing towards a world of precision medicine where genomics and other ‘omics become standard aspects of routine medical care.These transformations are leading to the creation of massive new data sets, which creates an opportunity for the use of artificial intelligence.The DefinitionBefore we go further, let me establish a working definition for artificial intelligence. At Intel, we have developed a taxonomy for artificial intelligence that includes both machine learning and reasoning technologies that enable machines to more closely mimic human capabilities like sensing, reasoning, and acting.Within the area of machine learning, there are two common approaches. The first is classic machine learning that uses statistical techniques like decision trees, random forests, and support vector machines. The second is deep learning, which uses neural networks. A common use for machine learning is classification, which is a common element in predictive models.Adjacent to machine learning are reasoning systems, both memory, and logic based, which are able to identify patterns across data sets using various techniques and build prescriptive solutions.These technologies are not mutually exclusive. They each have strengths and weaknesses. Think of them as various tools to solve specific problems. Increasingly we see solutions being developed that involve several of these technologies to solve specific aspects of a broader business need.The critical precursor for any of these technologies is data. This is why digital transformation in healthcare is so important. Adoption of digital technologies is creating massive new data sets, which presents an opportunity for AI.Moving ForwardA common question that is posed to me is, “how does an organization get started with AI?”To answer this question, it’s important to put AI in context with other analytics techniques.AI is an evolution from traditional analytics. Key capabilities like data governance and training on data-driven decision making set the stage for being able to deploy AI solutions. Critical to this evolution is a top-down commitment from management to use data in order to drive business and clinical processes.In the analytics maturity model shown above, you can see that artificial intelligence starts to come into play when organizations transition from using data to analyze what happened in the past, to using data to predict what will happen in the future. Often this transition occurs through the use of classic machine learning to build predictive models from structured data. Naturally, as organizations get more comfortable with this approach, they will look to utilize new, unstructured data sources that open the door for deep learning.The next step after building predictive models is prescriptive models using cognitive systems that combine the prediction with a business process to recommend a course or courses of action.In my next post, I’ll dive into use cases for AI in healthcare. In the meantime, what questions about AI in healthcare do you have? Send them my way on Twitter at @andybartleyOpens in a new window or @IntelHealthOpens in a new window.last_img read more

They Won’t Stand in the Gap

first_imgSome common woodland songbirds go to great lengths to avoid crossing open spaces created by loggers and farmers. Instead, they stick to the trees that might hide them from a hungry hawk, even if it means flying roundabout routes. The finding, reported in this month’s issue of Conservation Biology, suggests that forest fragmentation contributes to songbird losses by forcing birds to waste precious energy. It also suggests that creating forested corridors between woodland patches might help some birds, although some biologists dispute that idea.Over the last few centuries, logging and land clearing have fragmented many of North America’s great forests into ragged patchworks of fields, clear-cuts, and disconnected woodlands. Many biologists believe this fragmentation has contributed to the dramatic declines in some forest-nesting birds. Some researchers, for example, have found evidence that birds nesting in smaller forest patches are more exposed to predators, such as house cats, than birds dwelling in larger forest reserves. But the elusive habits of many species have made it difficult for researchers to observe how birds actually behave when confronted with crossing a gap in the trees.Now, Andre Desroches of the Université Laval in Sainte-Foy in Canada, and Susan Hannon of the University of Alberta in Canada, have found a way to study how some birds react to forest gaps. In their study, conducted in southern Quebec, the researchers tried to coax five types of birds to cross 7- to 160-meter gaps by attracting them with taped birdcalls. Overall, the nuthatches, chickadees, warblers, kinglets, and vireos showed little reluctance to fly across gaps less than 30 meters wide to reach the tape recorder. As the gaps grew larger, however, the birds were increasingly likely to take longer, roundabout routes that didn’t require them to fly out into the open. For instance, they were eight times more likely to remain under cover than fly across a 100-meter gap. The researchers theorize that the energetic cost of a bird’s longer trip is worth the benefit of avoiding predators, such as bird-eating hawks, but could be stressful over the long run.Hannon says similar studies could eventually be of practical use to loggers and land managers by providing guidelines on how big forest gaps can be before they become an obstacle to birds. She also says the study suggests that preserving forested corridors could allow the birds to move unimpeded across the landscape.But several researchers, while lauding the study for its creative approach to studying bird behavior and highlighting one effect of fragmentation, do not believe its findings should be interpreted as proof that wildlife corridors will help birds. Carola Haas of Virginia Polytechnic University in Blacksburg and Dan Simberloff of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, say that the benefits of corridors remain unproven. Says Simberloff: “Corridor advocates may say this otherwise interesting study shows the value of corridors, but it is an issue the authors didn’t really address.”last_img read more

Controversy Rages Over Scientific Expedition to Paraguay

first_imgA 100-person-strong scientific expedition, set to head off in the next few days for remote regions of northern Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina, is causing an uproar among some anthropologists and advocates of the indigenous people who live in that area. They fear that the exploring scientists could come into contact with the isolated indigenous groups, leading to violent exchanges or exposing the locals to dangerous infectious disease to which they have no immunity. The month long expedition, organized by the Natural History Museum in London, in collaboration with their partner organization the Natural History Museum in Asunción, Paraguay, is hoped to return with several hundred new species of plants and insects. In a description of the expedition, the U.K. Natural History Museum says that such “specimens will help scientists to understand for the first time the richness and diversity of the animals and plants in this remote region. The Governments and conservation groups are able to use such information to better understand how to manage fragile habitats and protect them for future generations”. The British and Paraguayan-led teams of scientists and research assistants, who will target two remote regions of an area of lowland, semiarid forest known as the Gran Chaco that stretches for 647,500 km2 on the eastern side of the Andes, will be traipsing through the homelands of groups of Ayoreo Indians who live in voluntary isolation and are rarely sighted. Some members of the Ayoreo tribes have fled the forest in recent years because of threats of bulldozed houses by a Brazilian company setting up a “nature reserve,” reports Survival International, a non-governmental organization that campaigns for the rights of tribal peoples. “Contact with isolated groups is invariably violent, sometimes fatal, and always disastrous,” said Jonathan Mazower, a spokesman for Survival International. “It is highly likely that there are small groups of isolated Indians scattered throughout the Chaco. The only sensible thing to do is err on the side of caution because any accidental contact can be disastrous. This has happened before [in the Chaco]. On two previous occasions, in 1979 and 1986, expeditions were sent in by U.S. missionaries to bring out Indians and people were killed on both occasions.” 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(*) Benno Glauser, director of leading indigenous peoples’ protection group Iniciativa Amotocodie, a group who aims to protect the integrity and the physical, spiritual, and cultural survival and vitality of isolated groups, says in a letter to the museum: According to our data, the expedition you plan constitutes beyond any doubt an extremely high risk for the integrity, safety and legal rights of life and self-determination of the isolated Ayoreo, as well as for the integrity and stability of their territories . … There exists a considerable menace and risk also for the safety of the scientists taking part of the expedition, as well as the rest of expedition participants. In an online statement reported by the Guardian, the U.K. Natural History Museum said it worked with the Paraguayan government and Ayoreo Indians to plan the expedition: “We recognise the importance of the concerns which have been taken into account during the planning of the expedition. They form part of the ongoing consultations that are still taking place with the Paraguayan authorities.” The museum adds: “We are delighted to be working with representatives of the indigenous people. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to combine traditionally acquired knowledge with scientifically acquired knowledge to our mutual benefit. As with all expeditions, the team is continually reviewing the situation. Our primary concern is for the welfare of the members of the expedition team and the people of the Dry Chaco region.” *This item has been corrected, 11 November. Due to an editing error, the original title of this item referred to the Andes as the destination of the expedition.last_img read more

Why Didn’t Obama Mention Landmark Science Legislation?

first_imgJust before Christmas, President Barack Obama celebrated a string of last-minute legislative accomplishments on tax cuts, gays in the military, the nuclear arms pact, the 9/11 responder bill, and food safety. But 2 weeks after saying that competition on innovation from overseas made this “our generation’s Sputnik moment,” the White House barely mentioned that key science legislation, the America COMPETES Act, which passed Congress last week amidst the flurry of lame-duck activity. COMPETES authorizes scientific education efforts, manufacturing research, and, crucially, spending for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy (including its ARPA-E high risk research program), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The nonprofit Science Coalition called the bill’s passage “vital” and Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, called it “a major milestone” in one of two blog entries from White House aides on the bill. But with the spotlight on the president after the productive week, Obama made no mention of the bill in prepared statements, on the White House home page, or in a press conference. “He should have mentioned it,” Michael Lubell of the American Physical Society said of Obama’s silence on COMPETES. “I would have been happy if I had heard more from him on that,” said National Academy of Engineering President Charles Vest, who called the bill’s passage “a major deal.” 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(*) Vest also said paltry press coverage of the bill’s passage was “very disappointing,” as COMPETES was left out of thousands of stories on the last-minute legislative successes. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and even prominent science bloggers including Chris Mooney and Phil Plait failed to mention the bill’s passing. What worries Lubell is that the low profile of science in the average American’s mind led the White House to emphasize the other accomplishments. “I hate to say this, but on the scale of things the public worries about, science is not one of the highest priorities for the average person. If you’re a politician, and especially if you’re president, you’re going to highlight other priorities.” Incoming House of Representatives science committee chair Ralph Hall (R-TX) complained last week about the cost of the programs that the bill authorizes, foreshadowing fights with fiscal conservatives on the federal science budget. Lubell worries that the low profile of science is “going to be a huge problem for us going forward. The real fight over science is going to be in appropriations, and that’s going to be very, very rough.” Holdren’s office declined to comment—though with many staff members on vacation this week it’s a tough time to get approval for statements. A bill-signing ceremony is expected for the legislation soon, so perhaps then COMPETES will get the attention advocates think it deserves.last_img read more

Feature: Is Brazil prepared for a ‘decade of contacts’ with emerging tribes?

first_imgTimeline: “How Europeans brought sickness to the New World” RICARDO MORAES/REUTERS/CORBISThis sawmill, on a cleared patch of Amazon forest in Brazil, trades in wood taken illegally from an indigenous reserve.Vaz notes that most of FUNAI’s protection fronts now lack the specialized field teams needed to find isolated groups and map territories. At the 2014 public hearing, FUNAI officials reported that they needed 14 specialized field teams; at present the agency has two. Vaz is furious. “Why do we have protection bases being closed?” he asks. “Why are there protection fronts that are no longer able to implement the procedures for protection? There is something wrong.”He thinks the problem boils down to a highly coveted commodity in Brazil today: land. The data gathered by FUNAI’s specialist field teams lay the groundwork for legally demarcating land for the sole use of isolated indigenous groups. Once the land is protected, the Brazilian government can no longer auction it off to public and private development enterprises.Vaz digs out a chart published by the Brazilian nonprofit Povos Indígenas no Brasil, which itemizes indigenous land demarcation over the past 2 decades. Between 1995 and 2002, the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso demarcated and ratified 118 applications for indigenous land. From 2003 to 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government ratified another 81 applications. But from 2011 to 2015, Dilma Rousseff’s government ratified just 11 applications, and only one since 2013; that application was signed on 29 May 2015. Several demarcation documents “are sitting on the desk of the minister of justice, and he is not signing them,” Vaz says.Vaz contends that the current government is demarcating very little land for indigenous groups and has largely abandoned its responsibilities to them, placing their lives in danger, primarily because it “sees the Indians as hampering the agricultural business, hampering the expansion of mining, and hampering the extraction of natural resources.” SURVIVAL INTERNATIONALA woman from the isolated Awá Guajá tribe tends to her sick sister after the two chose to make contact with Brazilian officials in January 2015.But some experts say that as the pace of economic activity in the Amazon accelerates, the protection system that was once the envy of South America is falling apart. Brazil has the world’s seventh largest economy, with a gross domestic product in 2013 of $2.24 trillion. To fuel this vast economic engine, public and private enterprises are pushing deeper into the Amazon, constructing dams, transmission lines, mines, pipelines, and highways. Meanwhile, drug smugglers cross isolated groups’ territories to transport Peruvian cocaine to Brazil, triggering attacks. “There’s no part of the Amazon that is not under some kind of pressure,” says anthropologist Barbara Arisi of the Federal University of Latin American Integration in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.The rate of contact seems to be rising in both Brazil and Peru. Between 1987 and 2013, FUNAI made contact with five isolated groups. But in the past 18 months alone, three groups initiated contact: the Xinane, the Korubo, and the Awá Guajá. Physician Douglas Rodrigues of the Federal University of São Paulo, a public health specialist who works with indigenous tribes, worries that the recent flurry of contacts is just the beginning. “I fear that we are facing a ‘decade of contacts,’” he says. By many accounts, FUNAI—cash-strapped and under pressure from development interests—is not prepared.DURING THE DRY SEASON in the Amazon last summer, a handful of robust young men emerged from the forest along the Envira River, near the Peru border. They wore thin belts around their waists, had their hair styled in a bowl cut, and carried long bows. They were from an isolated tribe that FUNAI calls the Xinane people, and according to what the tribespeople later told government interpreters, they had survived a violent attack by nonindigenous men along the Envira River in eastern Peru, a border region favored by cocaine smugglers. FUNAI had had a base nearby on the Xinane River, but abandoned it in 2011 after heavily armed drug traffickers surrounded it. REUTERS/RICARDO MORAESA settled Kayapo man receives rare eye care from a traveling charity. Many indigenous villagers in the Amazon receive scant medical care, and their lack threatens isolated people, too.As the dry season progressed last summer, the Xinane moved eastward through the forest to a small indigenous settlement known as Simpatia, where at least 70 contacted Ashaninka people lived. For several days, the young hunters watched and waited in the dense vegetation around the village, calling to one another with bird cries and animal sounds. The Ashaninka feared an attack.Then on 13 June, Simpatia’s schoolteacher radioed FUNAI for help. Four young Xinane men had entered the village, noted a later medical report, and taken machetes, metal pots, and clothing, the latter a potential source of disease transmission. Frightened, the Ashaninka hid in their houses.The Xinane were not unknown to FUNAI. Since 2008, researchers had been studying the group and tracking their movements from FUNAI’s headquarters in a sleek glass office tower in Brasília. Last February, seated at a large conference table there, Leonardo Lenin thumbed through photos taken by FUNAI field teams, which had found vestiges of Xinane camps since at least 2005. Dark-haired and intense, with an urgent way of speaking, Lenin is responsible for the FUNAI division that gathers data on Brazil’s isolated groups and tries to protect them.To date, Lenin explains, FUNAI has confirmed the existence of 26 isolated groups in Brazil, with the greatest concentration located along the Peruvian border. The agency’s records suggest that up to 78 additional groups may be in hiding or on the run.Gathering enough evidence to confirm a suspected group can take years, Lenin says. FUNAI researchers scour historical accounts and examine anthro-pological records on the languages and material culture of nearby contacted groups. They also compile a picture of nearby development projects and any illegal activities, such as the drug trafficking that threatened the Xinane.In the field, FUNAI workers interview local people and may send a team into the forest. Skirting areas likely to be seasonally occupied, the teams hunt for abandoned camps, documenting huts and houses, as well as discarded tools and weapons, food remains, and raw materials. Team members are instructed to leave everything in situ, to win the trust of the isolated groups. “They will know that someone was there, but they will also know that it was a group that doesn’t want to harm them,” Lenin says.Back in the FUNAI offices, Lenin and his colleagues analyze the findings and begin mapping territories and estimating populations. “It is an archaeology of the living,” Lenin says, adding that even small finds can disclose vital information.He holds up a photograph of a child’s reed toy, found in a hideout used by the Kawahiva, an isolated group in the state of Mato Grosso who are on the run from loggers and farmers. “It was quite emotional to find this,” Lenin says. Tribespeople who are constantly evading hostile outsiders often seem to stop having children, a sure path to extinction. The small woven toy, however, indicates that Kawahiva mothers have not yet reached that point.To monitor isolated populations over time, FUNAI researchers conduct regular flyovers, taking aerial photos of houses and fields, estimating populations, and noting hair styles and patterns of body paint. But flyovers are expensive, so researchers increasingly gather information from remote sensing imagery.For example, in a paper published in Royal Society Open Science in November 2014, scientists led by anthropologist Robert Walker of the University of Missouri, Columbia, used satellite images to survey isolated groups in Brazil. The researchers searched for thatched-roof houses and gardens along the Brazil-Peru border where FUNAI had confirmed the existence of three isolated groups, including the Xinane, through fieldwork and overflights. They found at least five villages and calculated their areal extent.Using population estimates from FUNAI’s published data, they found that the isolated villages had far greater population densities than did the contacted villages—nine people per square hectare versus just 0.7 people in the contacted settlements. Isolated tribespeople may not clear spacious areas because they lack steel tools such as machetes and axes, Walker says—or because of pressure from hostile outsiders. “We need to track these populations over time,” Walker says. “They are really fragile groups on the cusp of extinction.”FUNAI’s official policies are directed toward preventing rather than managing contact, and neither the agency nor Brazil’s Ministry of Health has an official contingency plan for how to protect isolated people’s health should contact occur. But contact was exactly what the Xinane seemed to be seeking.BACK IN SIMPATIA last June, the Ashaninka were growing increasingly anxious as the Xinane calls resounded through the forest. Finally, on 26 June, a small FUNAI team arrived to take charge of the situation, including José Carlos Meirelles, a retired sertanista who advised the state of Acre on indigenous affairs. The Ashaninka knew Meirelles well. The gaunt 66-year-old had supervised FUNAI’s protection front in the region for more than 2 decades and had set up the Xinane base.In all likelihood, the young Xinane men knew Meirelles, too. Anthropologists working in recently settled communities have collected accounts showing that tribespeople carefully observed nonindigenous communities before they made contact, for example learning people’s names.FUNAI researchers had deduced that the Xinane spoke a language in the Panoan family, likely a language closely related to Yaminawa. So Meirelles’s team included two Yaminawa interpreters.Three days after Meirelles arrived, seven Xinane appeared on the opposite riverbank with machetes, arrows, and one rifle in hand. Eventually some waded across the river, and this time the nervous Ashaninka welcomed them with bananas, coconuts, and clothing. The young Xinane men said that they had come from a village deep in the forest, where as many as 60 people lived. They spent several hours in Simpatia that day, walking about and occasionally pilfering goods. It was their first official contact with the Brazilian government.The next day, however, the situation took a sudden turn for the worse. FUNAI team members noticed that some Xinane were coughing and looked ill. Alarmed, the field team informed FUNAI and Ministry of Health officials in Brasília.An untreated disease can kill up to 90% of an isolated population, and such illnesses demand a fast response, Lenin says. “We’re talking almost a process of extermination of a group,” he later told a public hearing in Brasília on public policies and land conflicts concerning indigenous groups. “How to court an isolated tribe” Editorial: “Protecting isolated tribes” “A visitor brings doom to an isolated tribe” “Will a road through the rainforest bring prosperity or disaster?” BRASÍLIA—In a spacious, art-filled apartment in Brasília, 75-year-old Sydney Possuelo takes a seat near a large portrait of his younger self. On the canvas, Possuelo stares with calm assurance from the stern of an Amazon riverboat, every bit the famous sertanista, or Amazon frontiersman, that he once was. But on this late February morning, that confidence is nowhere to be seen. Possuelo, now sporting a beard neatly trimmed for city life, seethes with anger over the dangers now threatening the Amazon’s isolated tribespeople. “These are the last few groups of humans who are really free,” he says. “But we will kill them.”For decades, Possuelo worked for Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the federal agency responsible for the country’s indigenous peoples. In the 1970s and 1980s, he and other sertanistas made contact with isolated tribespeople so they could be moved off their land and into settlements. But Possuelo and others grew alarmed by the human toll. The newly contacted had no immunity to diseases carried by outsiders, and the flu virus, he recalls, “was like a suicide bomber,” stealing into a village unnoticed. Among some groups, 50% to 90% died (see sidebar). In 1987, Possuelo and fellow sertanistas met to try to stop this devastation.In Brasília, a futuristic city whose central urban footprint evokes the shape of an airplane, the frontiersmen agreed that contact was inherently damaging to isolated tribespeople. They drew up a new action plan for FUNAI, based solidly on the principle of no contact unless groups faced extinction. They recommended mapping and legally recognizing the territories of isolated groups, and keeping out loggers, miners, and settlers. If contact proved unavoidable, protecting tribespeople’s health should be top priority.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 recommendations became FUNAI policy, and a model for other countries where isolated populations are emerging, such as neighboring Peru (see companion story). In remote regions, FUNAI has designated a dozen “protection fronts”—official front lines in the battle to defend isolated groups, each dotted with one or more frontier bases to track tribes and sound the alarm when outsiders invade. In an interview in February, FUNAI’s interim president, Flávio Chiarelli, told Science that his agency is “doing great” at protecting the country’s isolated tribes. REUTERS/FUNAIBut while FUNAI and Ministry of Health officials tried to organize and fly in a medical team, the Xinane melted back into the forest, raising concerns that they would carry disease back to their home village. It was not until 6 July that the Ministry of Health flew in the first physician, Rodrigues. He managed to find and examine three tribesmen on 8 July. Each had a fever and an acute respiratory infection. Concerned about preventing secondary infections such as pneumonia, Rodrigues and a small team began treating the Xinane with fluids, antibiotics, and drugs to lower their fevers.The FUNAI and Ministry of Health workers then located all seven Xinane and convinced them to move upriver with Rodrigues and colleagues to the abandoned Xinane base. There, the young men would be less likely to catch additional diseases or to return to their home village while contagious.Eight days later, the Xinane had recovered fully. Through an interpreter, Rodrigues asked them to return to the base in a month with their families. On 26 July, 34 Xinane men, women, and children began trickling into the base to receive immunizations for influenza, chickenpox, and other infectious diseases. Today, Lenin reports, the Xinane are doing well and the Xinane base remains open. “They know that if there is any situation of health or territorial invasion, the team is there to help them,” he says.So far, contact has not meant death for the Xinane. But some observers think that last summer’s achievement was mostly a matter of luck. In an online report, physician Rodrigues notes that the virus contracted by the Xinane happened to be relatively mild, possibly a rhinovirus or adenovirus; a more serious virus such as influenza might have killed many. And some critics think FUNAI and the Ministry of Health moved much too slowly when disease broke out. The Xinane, Arisi says, “did not receive prompt and proper emergency treatment.”In light of these experiences, Rodrigues thinks that FUNAI and the Ministry of Health need contingency plans that can be activated immediately, with specially trained health teams and stockpiles of vaccines and medicines available on short notice, as well as helicopters to ferry them to inaccessible corners of the Amazon. He adds that the Brazilian government needs to provide better health care in remote indigenous villages such as Simpatia, to help the villagers as well as to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission to isolated groups.Lenin himself conceded last August in the public hearing in Brasília that more funds and planning are required to protect isolated groups. “Now, our concern is to have … teams ready to make this work in relation to health,” Lenin said. “Either we, in fact, do a competent, skilled intervention, or we will be talking about repeating the histories of contacts, where the mortality of indigenous groups was very high.”SITTING IN A shady tropical garden in one of Brasília’s middle-class neighborhoods, Antenor Vaz frowns as he considers the tale of the Xinane. A crisp, precise man in his 60s who once trained as a physicist, Vaz is the person who systematized FUNAI’s procedures for protecting isolated people after the agency moved to a no-contact policy in 1988. Since leaving the agency in 2013, Vaz has monitored and critiqued its activities, hunting down obscure FUNAI reports and presentations online and publishing his findings.FUNAI, he says, lacks the funds and human resources it needs. In 2014, the Brazilian government approved just 2.77 million reais ($1.15 million) for finding and protecting isolated groups, 20% of what FUNAI requested; this year, the government again provisionally approved 2.77 million reais, less than 15% of the amount FUNAI requested, according to documents presented at the 2014 public hearing.FUNAI officials stated in 2014 that they needed 30 staffed frontier posts, each outfitted with communications equipment and transportation. But according to a document presented at the hearing, they had just 15 posts operating in 2014, suggesting that their front lines are operating at half strength. REUTERS/UESLEI MARCELINOIndigenous leaders gathered at Brazil’s National Congress in Brasília in April, demanding more land for isolated tribes and settled communities.João Paulo Gomes, a representative for the Secretariat for Social Communication of the Presidency of Brazil, does not dispute Vaz’s numbers. “It is natural that the number of demarcations should decrease over time as the demand for them is met,” he wrote by e-mail. Most of the indigenous lands now awaiting ratification, he adds, “are concentrated in the center-south and northeast regions of Brazil,” where there is still major social conflict over the demarcation of indigenous lands.Gomes also dismisses charges that President Rousseff and her government favor economic development on the territories of isolated tribes. The Ministry of Justice is now using legal mediation measures to resolve disputes over land between indigenous communities and rural producers, he says. The government “is keenly interested in bringing the conflicts in indigenous lands to an end,” he says.In his sunlit apartment, Sydney Possuelo agrees with Vaz’s contention that the current government has reneged on its responsibilities to isolated peoples. The legendary protection system that Possuelo helped build is crumbling, as abandoned protection bases molder in the forest. The once efficient system of radio communication between FUNAI riverboats and bases is falling apart. The isolated people who once preserved traditional knowledge of Amazonian plants as well as a rich diversity of cultures and languages face new threats. And in their glass towers in Brasília, federal officials are veering dangerously close to repeating the mistakes of the past, Possuelo says.“FUNAI is dead,” he says. “But nobody told it, and nobody held a funeral.”Reporting for this story was supported in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.Related content:”Feature: From deep in Peru’s rainforests, isolated people emerge”last_img read more

Top stories: Bumblebees in trouble, memory loss, and energy-boosting enzymes

first_img‘Old-age protein’ may cause memory lossThe next time you forget where you left your car keys, you might be able to blame an immune protein that builds up in your blood as you age. The protein impairs the formation of new brain cells and contributes to age-related memory loss—at least in mice, according to a new study. Blocking it could help prevent run-of-the-mill memory decline.Catastrophic Chinese floods triggered by air pollutionSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In 2013, the worst flooding to hit China in 50 years was happening in the Sichuan province. About 200 people died, and a further 300,000 were displaced. Researchers designed computer simulations to model what had happened in order to find out whether the flood was caused by pollution. In the case of the Sichuan storms, soot had altered air circulation patterns and redistributed rainfall. The results suggest that air pollution should become a regular factor for weather forecasting.Need an energy boost? This enzyme may helpWhether you’re entering the home stretch of a marathon or trying to lug your groceries up that last flight of stairs, you push and push, and just when you think you can’t push any more, your body summons a bit of extra energy to get you through. Now, scientists have figured out where that boost comes from. What’s more, they say we may be able to use supplements to help us access it.Bumblebees being crushed by climate changeAs our climate changes, plants and animals are on the move. But bumblebees don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Rather than moving north toward cooler weather, the bees are staying put within shrinking ranges—or just disappearing altogether.Independent group pans WHO’s response to EbolaIf the World Health Organization (WHO) is to better protect humanity from major epidemics, it will have to change fundamentally. That is the conclusion of an independent panel charged with assessing WHO’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed more than 11,000 people.last_img read more

Why watching comb jellies poop has stunned evolutionary biologists

first_imgNo buts about it, the butthole is one of the finest innovations in the past 
540 million years of animal evolution. The first animals that arose seem to have literally had potty mouths: Their modern-day descendants, such as sea sponges, sea anemones, and jellyfish, all lack an anus and must eat and excrete through the same hole. Once an independent exit evolved, however, animals diversified into the majority of species alive today, ranging from earthworms
 to humans.One apparent advantage of a second hole is that animals can eat while digesting a meal, whereas creatures with one hole must finish and defecate before eating again. Other possible benefits, say evolutionary biologists, include not polluting an animal’s dining area and allowing an animal to evolve a longer body because it does not have to pump waste back up toward the head.However, several unprecedented videos of gelatinous sea creatures called comb jellies, or ctenophores, now threaten to upend the standard view of the evolution of the so-called through-gut. On 15 March, at the Ctenopolooza meeting in St. Augustine, Florida, evolutionary biologist William Browne of the University of Miami in Florida debuted films of comb jellies pooping—and it wasn’t through their mouths.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(*)Browne’s videos elicited gasps from the audience because comb jellies, whose lineage evolved long before other animals with through-guts, had been thought to eat and excrete through a single hole leading to a saclike gut. In 1880, the German zoologist Carl Chun suggested a pair of tiny pores opposite the comb jelly mouth might secrete some substance, but he also confirmed that the animals defecate through their mouths. In 1997, biologists again observed indigestible matter exiting the comb jelly mouth—not the mysterious pores.Browne, however, used a sophisticated video setup to continuously monitor two species that he keeps in captivity, 
Mnemiopsis leidyi and Pleurobrachia bachei. The movies he played at Ctenopolooza capture the creatures as they ingest tiny crustaceans and zebrafish genetically engineered to glow red with fluorescent protein. Because comb jellies are translucent, the prey can be seen as it circulates through a network of canals lacing the jellies’ bodies. Fast-forward, and 2 to 3 hours later, indigestible particles exit through the pores on the rear end. Browne also presented a close-up image of the pores, highlighting a ring of muscles surrounding each one. “This is a sphincterlike hole,” he told 
the audience.“Looks like I’ve been wrong for 30 years,” said George Matsumoto, a marine bio
logist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, after he saw Browne’s talk. “If people don’t see this video, they won’t believe it,” he added. Matsumoto said he, as well as the bio
logists before him, likely missed the bowel movements because they did not observe their animals long enough after a meal. Jellies seen to expel waste from their mouths might have been, in effect, vomiting because they were fed too much, or the 
wrong thing. According to recent DNA analyses, comb jellies evolved earlier than other animals considered to have one hole, including sea anemones, jellyfish, and possibly sea sponges. (Some studies suggest sponges arose first.) Consequently, Browne’s as-yet unpublished findings disrupt the stepwise progression of digestive anatomy from one to two holes early in animal evolution.One possibility is that the comb jellies evolved through-guts and anuslike pores on their own, independent of all other animals, over hundreds of millions of years. Alternatively, a through-gut and exit hole may have evolved once in an ancient animal ancestor, and subsequently became lost in anemones, jellyfish, and sponges. Perhaps if you’re an anemone or a sponge stuck to a rock, suggests Matsumoto, it’s better to push waste back into the current rather than below.Browne is currently exploring the latter theory by seeing whether comb jellies activate the same genes when developing their pores that other animals do when growing an anus. If he finds that the genes are different, the evolution of our most unspeakable body part will no longer be considered the singular event zoologists long supposed. “We have all these traditional notions of a ladderlike view of evolution, and it keeps getting shaken,” says Kevin Kocot, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.last_img read more

From shrinking spines to space fungus: The top five dangers of space travel

first_imgHuman errorMaking mistakes is something humans are extraordinarily good at, and in space, mistakes tend to hold heavier consequences. Andy Weir, the author of the science-fiction novel The Martian, took full advantage of that, crafting his entire plot around how a stranded astronaut must expertly solve dozens of problems or face certain death. Real-life space explorers are not always as lucky. Take the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia disasters, for example. Both shuttles broke apart because of mechanical problems, killing all seven astronauts on board each time. With Challenger, rubber O-rings were the culprit, causing the shuttle to break apart in the sky when they couldn’t seal properly in the cold. Columbia broke apart during re-entry when insulating foam separated from the shuttle and punctured its left wing. NASA management knew about mechanical issues in both cases, but considered them unimportant because they had never derailed a mission in the past.On long spaceflights where tensions might be running high or radiation could cause unusual anxiety, depression, or confusion, it’d be no surprise to see human-caused errors like a crash landing, leaky space suits, or even the loss of the water supply. Finding a way to limit the dangers of space and learning from past mistakes will ensure the safest flight to Mars and beyond. And with a little luck, our astronauts could end up as successful as Weir’s. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common cause of invasive fungal infection in humans. The airborne microorganism grows well on the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is seen inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia. Astronauts will have to get along in small spaces like this one for years on the way to another planet. Cosmic radiation, energy-charged atom fragments from the sun, and supernovae outside our galaxy can give astronauts anxiety, depression, and impaired decision-making. Microgravity makes meal time fun, but it can also cause muscle atrophy. Astronauts like NASA’s Karen Nyberg must exercise for 2 hours a day to prevent muscle loss up in orbit. Cai Yang Xinhua News Agency/Newscom Space fungusWe’ve known since the 1960s that some microorganisms can survive the perils of space, including microgravity, extreme temperatures, and radiation. And given that our best efforts to wipe space vessels clean of microorganisms often fails, exposure to these potentially pathogenic organisms is unavoidable. Now, a new study supports that claim. In October, researchers found that the airborne fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, the most common cause of invasive fungal infection in humans, grows just as well on the ISS as it does on Earth. And if fumigatus lives just fine in space, the researchers write, so could many other, more lethal pathogens. The researchers say this calls for a better detection and cleaning policy to avoid sending a ship full of astronauts into the dangers of deep space, only to have them killed by an earthly pathogen. Going stir crazyIf you’ve ever been on a long family road trip, you’ve had a taste of what a trip to Mars might be like—except that when your dad plays too much ABBA, you can eventually exit the vehicle. In a years-long deep space voyage without pit stops, a spat could mean life and death for crewmembers. In a NASA-funded report published this year on long space flights, Jack Stuster, a cultural anthropologist at private research corporation Anacapa Sciences in Santa Barbara, California, writes that U.S. astronauts’ No. 1 concern on missions to the International Space Station (ISS) was getting along with crewmates. Their journals, positive overall, reflected that concern: “I think I do need to get out of here,” one astronaut wrote. “Living in close quarters with people over a long period of time, definitely even things that normally wouldn’t bother you much at all can bother you after a while … that can drive anybody crazy.”And that was when Earth was right out the window. If astronauts start to feel this way when both Earth and their destination are but tiny pinpoints in space, things will feel even grimmer, Stuster says. Though these feelings can be limited by keeping busy, and by the intense psychological screenings that crewmembers undergo, the spectre of violence—and even mutiny—will always be a possibility. NASA center_img Cosmic radiationEn route to another world, astronauts will be bombarded with cosmic radiation: tiny, high-energy atom fragments that whiz through space and can damage cells and DNA. People on Earth are protected from cosmic rays thanks to Earth’s magnetic field, but an unprotected, Mars-bound astronaut would receive 0.3 sieverts of radiation on a one-way trip—that’s hardly close to the lethal dose of 8 sieverts or even the radiation sickness–causing dose of 1 sievert, but researchers think that amount (equivalent to 24 computerized tomography scans) is enough to cause irreversible damage to brain cells and other cells that aren’t readily replenished.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 central nervous system is the 800-pound gorilla in all of this,” says Charles Limoli, a radiation oncologist at the University of California, Irvine. In a recent rodent study in Scientific Reports, Limoli suggests that cosmic rays would cause long-term brain damage in astronauts on the way to another planet, resulting in dementia, memory deficits, anxiety, depression, and impaired decision-making. “This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a 2- to 3-year round trip to Mars,” he says. But it might be a problem we can fix. Several research groups, including Limoli’s, are working on a drug that could protect cells and DNA from being broken apart. Still, others are trying to invent shields that would deflect the rays altogether. NASA When President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962 that the United States would go to the moon, not because it is easy, but “because [it is] hard,” he had no idea how hard. Nevertheless, the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing and subsequent manned missions inspired space explorers of all stripes to justify their journeys to other cosmic outposts in the same vein: because it’s the ultimate challenge. But with each new study, the passage to Mars and other planets seems fraught with more danger than ever thought possible.Just lifting off the surface of Earth and landing on another planet is bad enough. But how intense are the dangers of actually traveling in space? Here are five of the most dangerous threats astronauts will face when traveling to Mars and beyond. Bill Ingalls/NASA Anna_Gavrylova/iStockphoto MicrogravityFrom YouTube videos of astronauts playing with floating blobs of water or doing effortless backflips, it seems like microgravity would be a blast. But up in space, the reality is much more serious. The absence of gravity causes bones and muscles to deteriorate, leading to a number of physiological problems. Astronauts on the ISS exercise for 2 hours a day to protect their muscles from wasting away, but losing bone density is unavoidable.Microgravity could also affect the body in other, unpredictable ways. Many astronauts, including Scott Kelly, have returned to Earth with blurred vision. The cause, according to research presented this week at the Radiology Society of North America’s annual meeting, is an increased volume of spinal fluid that pushes against the optic nerve and eyeballs, causing farsightedness. In another study, scientists discovered that the spinal muscles of ISS astronauts—essential for support and movement—shrank significantly during their time in space, decreasing by 19%. That could be the reason more than half of all ISS crew members report spinal pain and are four times more likely than Earth-bound citizens to have herniated disks, the researchers write in Spine. One solution? Space yoga—researchers say it might help increase spine mobility and strength. Exactly which poses they’ll do is yet to be determined. Technicians at mission control—like these at work at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center—work with astronauts to make sure missions run smoothly and without error.last_img read more

Memo freezing NIH communications with Congress triggers jitters

first_imgColleagues,For your additional awareness, please note that we have been directed not to send any correspondence to public officials (to include Members of Congress and state and local officials) between now and February 3, unless specifically authorized by the Department. If you or your staff have any questions about whether a letter should go forward, please contact me or NIH Exec Sec.Thanks and best wishes,Larry Tabak The Huffington Post reports that some other agencies at NIH’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), have received a similar directive. That story puts the memo in the same vein as a recently reported freeze on grants and a shutdown of social media posts and press releases at the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, Trump officials have blocked the release of public documents at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research arm.(USDA has since anounced it is withdrawing the order and will rewrite it.)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 freeze has startled aides on the Hill and people at those agencies, who worry that it could abruptly upend current operations and stifle work and discussions that routinely take place between branches of government,” The Huffington Post reports.But NIH spokesperson Renate Myles in Bethesda, Maryland, explained in an email to ScienceInsider that Tabak’s memo was just part of a suspension of new regulations and policies issued by HHS: Myles added that the HHS guidance, in turn, “was just a summary” of a memorandum that Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, issued on 20 January. It freezes new regulations until the new administration can review them. The memo also tells agencies to hold off on issuing any statement “that sets forth a policy on a statutory, regulatory, or technical issue or an interpretation of a statutory or regulatory issue.”The NIH memo was not sent to employees across the agency. And NIH has not received any guidance restricting the agency from issuing press releases or posting on social media, Myles says.Benjamin Corb, ASBMB’s director of public affairs in Rockville, Maryland, says it’s possible that the guidance is “a normal thing that happens in any transition period. But we want to make sure federally funded science agencies are able to carry out their mission without political interference.”One source close to NIH suggested the freeze on new policies is standard during a transition, but that Tabak’s email was poorly worded, setting off alarms among an already jittery NIH community. NIH issued an email to the NIH Institute and Center directors providing guidance from HHS on new or pending regulation, policy or guidance. The HHS guidance instructs HHS Operating Divisions to hold on publishing new rules or guidance in the Federal Register or other public forums and discussing them with public officials until the Administration has had an opportunity to review them. Is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) part of the clampdown by the 5-day-old Trump administration on communications at science agencies? That’s how some are reacting to White House directive telling NIH to halt correspondence with public officials and hold off on new policies. But some observers say the NIH directive is not unusual for a new administration.The worries were triggered by an email sent today by NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak to NIH’s 27 institute and center directors. It was first reported on the blog of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and states in part:last_img read more