quarta-feira, 30 de novembro de 2016

Doctors Should Counsel Even Low-Risk Patients on Heart Health




TUESDAY, Nov. 29, 2016 -- Primary care doctors should offer counseling about healthy lifestyle habits to prevent heart disease -- even to adults who have a low or average risk of developing heart troubles, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises.

The task force is an influential, independent panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.

"For people who are not at increased risk for heart disease, counseling on healthy eating and physical activity may help prevent heart disease for some people," task force vice chair Susan Curry said in a panel news release. Curry is dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

This latest draft recommendation reaffirms a prior advisory from the task force in 2012.

"The task force encourages primary care professionals to individualize this counseling and consider offering it to adults who are interested in and motivated to make lifestyle changes," Curry added.

The recommendation applies to adults aged 18 and older who aren't obese. It also applies to people who don't have high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, or higher-than-normal blood sugar.

Heart disease -- including heart attack and stroke -- remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

The new recommendation complements other task force advice for people with a high risk of heart disease, said Katrina Davidson, a member of the task force. Davidson is professor of medicine and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

The draft recommendation is open for public comment until Jan. 2, 2017.

More information

The American Heart Association offers advice on healthy living.

Posted: November 2016


These wearables detect health issues before they happen




Elizabeth Woyke

Technologies created by the federally funded MD2K project could lead to consumer devices that offer health guidance in real time.

  • November 30, 2016

Electrocardiogram data transmitted from MD2K’s AutoSense chest-band is displayed on a smartphone running the mCerebrum software platform. This researcher is also wearing a MotionSense wristband.

Future generations of Apple Watches, Fitbits, or Android Wear gadgets may be able to detect and mitigate health problems rather than simply relay health data, thanks to a federally funded project that is applying big-data tools to mobile sensors.

The project, called MD2K, won $10.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop hardware and software that compiles and analyzes health data generated by wearable sensors. MD2K’s ultimate goal is to use these sensors and data to anticipate and prevent “adverse health events,” such as addiction relapse. Though the project is aimed at researchers and clinicians, its tools are freely available, so these innovations could turn up in consumer wearables.

Commercial wearable devices aren’t suitable for research because they only gather a few types of health data about a user, such as number of steps taken and heart rate, and they typically display specific results rather than raw sensor data. In addition, their batteries can’t support a full day’s worth of high-frequency data collection and they don’t quantify the degree of uncertainty associated with their data.

MD2K’s EasySense wearable is a cardiorespiratory monitor that can measure lung fluid level in congestive heart failure patients.

EasySense uses a circular antenna array to obtain stable measurements irrespective of orientation.

MD2K’s EasySense wearable is a cardiorespiratory monitor that can measure lung fluid level in congestive heart failure patients.

EasySense uses a circular antenna array to obtain stable measurements irrespective of orientation.

MD2K’s EasySense wearable is a cardiorespiratory monitor that can measure lung fluid level in congestive heart failure patients.


EasySense uses a circular antenna array to obtain stable measurements irrespective of orientation.

To address these shortcomings, the MD2K team, which spans 12 different universities, produced a set of gadgets capable of collecting a variety of raw, reliable sensor data for 24 hours per charge. MotionSense is a smart watch that deciphers users’ arm movements through sensors and can track heart rate variability. EasySense is a micro-radar sensor worn near the chest to measure heart activity and lung fluid volume. MD2K researchers are also using AutoSense—invented before MD2K was established—a chest-band that gleans electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiration data. All three devices stream data via Wi-Fi to Android phones where an MD2K-built software platform processes the information and translates it into digital biomarkers about the wearer’s health status and risk factors.

Since MD2K’s work is open-source, manufacturers such as Apple, Garmin, and Samsung could use the project’s designs to build similar sensors and apps for their own wearable devices. For example, MD2K’s MotionSense “HRV” wristband has three types of LED sensors (red, infra-red, and green) embedded in its underside, while most fitness trackers and commercial smart watches, such as the Apple Watch, have only green LEDs. Because the MD2K gadget can calculate differences in the ways a user’s blood absorbs its various sensor lights, it is able to compute heart rate variability, i.e., variations in the time interval between heartbeats, instead of just measuring a user’s heart rate in terms of beats per minute, as most of today’s wearables do.

MD2K researchers are using this AutoSense chest-band to monitor study participants’ heart activity and respiration.

This heart-rate variability data, along with respiratory signals, can help gauge a person’s stress levels. Emre Ertin, an Ohio State University professor who developed MD2K’s wearable gadgets, says manufacturers could easily implement this “stress biomarker” in their devices. Some commercial wearables, such as the Spire “mindfulness and activity tracker” and Fitbit’s more expensive models, claim to detect stress (through tense breathing), but other popular wearables, including the Apple Watch, Garmin’s “vivo” series, and Samsung’s GearFit2, do not.

Academics at Northwestern and Ohio State universities are already using the MD2K wearables to understand when and why abstinent smokers relapse and to assess congestion in congestive heart failure patients so they can avoid hospitalization. The smoking cessation study pulls information from multiple sources, including the MotionSense wristband’s accelerometer and gyrometer, which evaluate the wearer’s wrist position and movement to identify smoking gestures; the gadget’s heart-rate variability sensors, which assess stress; and the GPS in the user’s smartphone, which yields clues about location. MD2K researchers then examine the data to see which environments and behaviors trigger smoking lapses. Eventually, they will leverage that knowledge to launch “just-in-time” interventions in the form of pop-up messages or surveys on the participant’s smartphone.

It seems inevitable that these advances will trickle down to consumer wearables, but some experts advise caution. “If you take one thousand people who are trying to quit smoking and add an intervention that is digital and mobile, you’ll get some uptake because these people were previously using nothing [to guard against relapse],” says Joseph Kvedar, who heads the Boston-based Partners HealthCare SystemCenter for Connected Health and teaches at Harvard Medical School. “But I don’t think anyone really knows how effective any of these things are, long term.”

Women's Health Topics > Women and Diabetes





Diabetes is a serious illness that affects over 29 million people in the United States.

There is good news. Diabetes can be controlled by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and using FDA-approved medicines, insulin, and devices every day. FDA has lots of free information to help you manage your diabetes.

General Tips

Check these resources for tips to help you manage your diabetes.

Diabetes Treatments

Some people with diabetes need to take diabetes medicines or insulin to help keep their blood sugar at a healthy level. What you need depends on your health and the type of diabetes you have. Use these resources to help you talk with your health care provider about your diabetes treatment.

Diabetes and Pregnancy

Some women develop diabetes for the first time when they become pregnant. This is called gestational (jes-Tay-shun-ul) diabetes. Other women have diabetes before they get pregnant. Use these resources to help you talk to your health care provider about how to manage diabetes during pregnancy.

Diverse Women in Clinical Trials Campaign

Clinical trials can help doctors learn more about treatments for diabetes. The FDA Office of Women's Health is partnering with the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health to raise awareness about diverse women of different ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, and health conditions participating in clinical trials.

Visit the Women in Clinical Trials webpage to learn how women with diabetes can make a difference.

Other Resources from the FDA

Information from Other Government Agencies and Offices

terça-feira, 29 de novembro de 2016

Magnets Aren’t Miracles, But Solar Flares Burst With Magic




Author: Nick Stockton. Nick Stockton Science

 Getty Images

Magnets aren’t miracles, but neither are they a phenomenon that physicists completely understand. Particularly big magnets, like the sun. Until recently, the annals of research failed to completely explain how massive currents blooming on the sun’s surface burst into solar flares, releasing incredible volumes of energy in short time frames.

Peter Sweet was vexed by this problem when, in 1956, the English physicist traveled to Stockholm for a meeting of the International Astronomical Union. He presented a partial solution: When two magnetic fields meet, a current sheet forms between them, and plasma (fiery blobs of energy) erupts at the seam. An American physicist named Eugene Parker saw Sweet’s presentation, and worked out the math on his flight back to the states. For fifty years, their Sweet-Parker model has been crucial for explaining not just solar flares, but other large-scale magnetic activity, like Earth’s aurora.

However, Sweet-Parker is too slow. Under that model, solar flares would take weeks to burst. “Imagine you have many persons in a room, but just one door to exit,” says Luca Comisso, a heliophysicist—sun scientist—at Princeton University. “The rate at which they can leave is fixed, so it takes a long time for them all to leave.” But solar flares discharge their energy in minutes. The problem is Sweet-Parker assumes magnetic fields remain stable when they meet. Like sophisticated guests at a society ball, the accumulated quanta of energy would exit the current sheet in orderly fashion.

Comisso says it’s not that kind of party. Magnetic field behave more like fraternity ragers being busted by the cops: People crawling out windows, leapfrogging through doors, busting down walls to escape. He and some co-authors recently published an alternative theory, on the open physics exchange arXiv. “Current sheets are not stable in time, they evolve, get narrow, become more intense,” says Comisso. This dynamic activity causes the huge, burning plasmas carried by the current sheets to intensify. “Plasmoids are like small blobs in this current sheet that grow until they break,” he says. “At a certain point they become big enough to burst, and destroy their current sheet and you have an explosion of current energy.”

Comisso and his co-authors built on 10 years of research by themselves and others on plasmoid instability to develop their mathematical solution. The theory calculates a given plasmoid’s size, and the size it would need to be in order to destroy its current sheet. “We can characterize the properties of plasmoid instability, and identify which blob of plasmoids will become big first,” he says. Developed more fully, their theory could become a the basis for things like early warning systems for the satellite-wrecking waves of energy emanating from bursted solar flares.

Nuclear physicists working on fusion energy might find the theory useful, as well. A tokamak is a type of fusion reactor that uses electromagnetic coils to control donut-shaped plasmas of energy. But heating the plasma to fusion-hot temperatures—about 10 times hotter than the center of the sun—is complicated. Because just like on the sun’s surface, the current sheets between magnetic fields in the tokamak want to burst. This releases energy, lowering the temperature, making safe, stable fusion impossible. But, if scientists can predict when and where plasmoids will burst, they can use some external force, like radiofrequency waves, to keep the current sheet stable. And if they figure all that out? Well, talk about a miracle.

The New TLS 1.3 Standard: Ready or Not Changes Are Coming




Blog Author

The New TLS 1.3 Standard: Ready or Not Changes Are Coming and It Will Have an Impact

Fellow Security Architect


TLS 1.3 Standard

Over the past few years, there have been several serious attacks on TLS—the widely used encryption standard to protect data exchanged over application protocols such as HTTP, SMTP, IMAP, POP, SIP, and XMPP. For this reason, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will be voting in the next couple of months on whether to approve an updated version—TLS 1.3—of the standard.

Cryptologists believe the new standard will be faster and more secure. Enterprises, on the other hand, are concerned about the implementation and stability issues it might cause.


The Difference between TLS 1.2 and TLS 1.3

TLS 1.2 provides a predictable way to negotiate a secure connection using an RSA key exchange and then perfect forward secrecy (PFS), which protects past sessions against future compromises. Using TLS 1.2, you can to force the connection to use RSA and if you have a copy of encrypted data as well as the key used to encrypt it, by simply observing it, either in transit or at a later date you can decrypt it. This practice is widely used across various enterprises for compliance reasons.

With TLS 1.3, the use of the RSA key exchange will be removed from the specification, which means that every conversation generates a unique key. Because this unique/ephemeral key is generated for every new connection, it will no longer be possible to decrypt the session using a copy of the private key. Unless you are the man in the middle of every conversation, you will not be able to decrypt traffic, either out of band or at a later time.

This change is especially problematic in large infrastructures where organizations need to tap lines across hundreds of different points to listen in on conversations, decrypt traffic, and, ultimately, determine good versus bad traffic. Moreover, in the name of making communications even more secure, there’s a chance that developers will eliminate backwards compatibility, thus preventing outdated standards from connecting using the new standard. Google, for example, recently announced that it would not support certain types of ciphers. If your browser doesn’t support older encryption, you won’t be able to download or use newer versions of Google Chrome. I recently experienced this when I installed Windows XP to run a legacy application. Google refused the version of Internet Explorer that ships with XP and I could neither conduct Google searches nor download Chrome.

This issue will become seriously non-trivial once all endpoints migrate to TLS 1.3. It will not only become difficult, but almost impossible to decrypt copies of traffic out of band. You will instead need to be inline, terminating the connection, decrypting it for analysis, and then re-establishing it. For example, if you were to engage a secure connection from a computer to a website, you would not be able to decrypt the traffic unless your connection were to pass directly through a piece of infrastructure with a copy of the website’s private key.


Why Stronger Encryption Now?

There are different schools of thought.

The more philosophical one argues that just because something is safe today doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow; that the abuse of data privacy has spread too far; and that the new standard will better protect privacy.

The operational one worries that if privacy protection is taken too far, it could create implementation and operational issues that introduce costs and jeopardize business. The implication is that if you’re inline everywhere, your systems become less resilient. And if you need to be in the middle of every single connection—as opposed to taking traffic offline to inspect and not disrupt production traffic—you will also be adding latency, efficiency risk, and overhead expenses.

The first camp is thinking about how to make the world a better, more secure, and private place; the latter needs to be sure they meet the needs of shareholders and maintain compliance with a wide variety of industry standards and regulations.

For instance, regulated industries like healthcare and financial services, which have to comply with HIPAA or PCI-DSS, may face certain challenges when moving to TLS 1.3 if they have controls that say, “None of this data will have X, Y, or Z in it” or “This data will never leave this confine and we can prove it by inspecting it.” In order to prove compliance with those controls, they have to look inside the SSL traffic. However, if their infrastructure can’t see traffic or is not set up to be inline with everything that is out of band in their PCI-DSS, they can’t show that their controls are working. And if they’re out of compliance, they might also be out of business.

For other, perhaps newer companies, this might not be a huge concern. But for institutions contending with hefty investments in legacy infrastructure, the change could be difficult to manage. And it also begs the question: Is it reasonable to introduce new costs and potential reliability risks in the name of better security? Security usually takes a back seat to operational efficiency until a compromise occurs. Then the lament is, “We could have avoided this.”


Preparing for TLS 1.3

The good news is that adoption of TLS 1.3 and the deprecation of older standards is several years away. Nonetheless, short-term preparations for TLS 1.3 can be made, but will differ depending on business type and risk tolerance. In some environments, there are tight controls that must use decryption while, in others, the issue is less pressing.

For those who have been on the fence about what they want to decrypt, this could be a forcing function as there is so much complexity and so many different places where data resides. This is a new opportunity to begin looking for threats under the lens of, “If I have to pick certain parts of communications to decrypt, what would they be?” And much of this will be driven by regulations, brand reputation, or data volume.

You can always do business. It’s a matter of, at what cost? Can you put something inline that will terminate the connections and not add latency or risk to your operations? Or, do you have to put termination inline in hundreds of places and hire new people to make sure it all works? Or, could technology come along that enables you to do this in a way that still maintains some level of privacy and security while also allowing you to meet required controls?


What’s Metadata Got to Do with It?

Gigamon’s GigaSECURE Security Delivery Platform produces metadata on what it sees on the network that can be used to make decisions about whether something is good or bad. For instance, if you’re not inline or unable to decrypt, but still need to understand whether there is malware on your network or if people are doing things they shouldn’t be, you can use metadata to figure things out. You don’t need to see inside the private phases of conversations. You can, instead, get close enough with traffic metadata to make an approximation.

Most systems are overwhelmed with data that isn’t meaningful to the particular problem they are trying to solve. Typically, organizations look at traffic as it leaves or comes into the network and not as often at what is internal to the company (e.g., traffic between users, between a user and a file server, or between a user and some application). Network boundaries are disintegrating—and, there really isn’t internal versus external networks.

Looking at east-west traffic is important and can be indicative of good behavior or a malicious attack. With TLS 1.3, the potential risk is that as east-west traffic becomes more and more difficult to decrypt, organizations will stop looking at it—and that could prove risky.

If you’d like to learn more, join us on Thursday, October 27, at the NYC Cybersecurity Summit. I will be moderating a panel discussion with cybersecurity experts from DTCC, UCI Cybersecurity Research Institute, Area 1 Security, and The New York Times that covers the privacy and TLS 1.3 issues. And Kevin Mitnick, the world’s most famous hacker, will be delivering a compelling keynote guaranteed to generate further debate.

More information can also be found at the IETF and on the KU LEUVEN blog.

Nanotubes can turn water solid when it should be boiling





"If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior," explains MIT's Michael Strano. In the research group's naontube test environment, water solidified at temperatures north of 222 °F (105 °C). Researchers expected the liquid's freezing and boiling tempratures to shift, but not by such a wide degree. "The effect is much greater than anyone had anticipated." Stano said "All bets are off when you get really small."

The group was used a technique called vibrational spectroscopy to confirm that the nanotube confined water shifted to a "stiff phase," but researchers are hesitant to say the solid water is frozen. "It's not necessarily ice," Strano says, "but it's an ice-like phase." Terminology aside, the phenomenon could be used to create highly conductive "stable water wires." Sounds futuristic. Ready to hear more? You can find the research group's findings at the source link below.

Sizing up South America's oldest living tree






Nick Lavars


The second-oldest living tree on the planet(Credit: Nick Lavars/New Atlas)


At around the time the Egyptians were busy inventing the sundial, a tenacious cypress seed busted through the floor of a temperate rainforest in the south of Chile. That same organism would see off the pharaohs, along with countless earthquakes, fires and centuries of logging to stand proudly as the oldest living thing on the South American continent roughly 3,500 years later. So what does it feel like to stand before such a venerable survivor? We trekked and tripped our way through the Andean foothills on Chile's southern coast for our own little meeting with "El Gran Abuelo."

South America's oldest living tree is a Fitzroya cupressoides, named so by the traveling geologist Charles Darwin in honor of the captain of his ship, Robert FitzRoy. Known as Alerce in Spanish and Lahuen in the native Mapuche, these tall evergreen trees are native to the southern Andes in Chile and Argentina, and though they grow to more than 60 m (196 ft) tall, they do so very slowly, gaining just a millimeter in diameter every year.

Alerces contain special resins that help them stave off decomposition(Credit: Nick Lavars/New Atlas)

Alerces contain special resins that help them stave off decomposition, even when buried or resting in water, which is a useful trait when it comes to longevity. Unfortunately, this and characteristics like a straight grain, elasticity, lightness and aesthetic appeal have made alerces a very desirable construction material over a considerable period of time.

Evidence exists of alerce wood being used for tools and weapons prior to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, but the arrival of the Europeans really took the lopping of these trees to another level. Initially, the wood played a big part in Chile's trade with neighboring Peru, but then throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries a series of fires really put the heat on, so to speak.

Some of the fires are thought to have arisen from lightning strikes, and others from indigenous tribes who inhabited the area. But a great deal were lit intentionally by local and foreign settlers who saw little need for forest and a big need for arable land. In the meantime, alerces continued to be logged to the brink of extinction, up until the government stepped in and declared the species a national monument in 1976.

Today, alerces are listed as endangered and can be found in staggered populations across a southern stretch of land starting at the cordillera on Chile's Pacific coast and rolling up and over the Andes into Argentina. This means there a few options to visit the native trees, with the massive Valdivian Coastal Reserve offering the biggest alerce bounty, though it's not exactly easy to access.

For starters, you'd need a four-wheel drive to handle the rugged terrain, which would have to be ferried across on one of the boats connecting the reserve to the city of Valdivia, capital of Chile's river region. And unless you want to call the forest home, you'll also need to hire a local Mapuche guide to help you find your way in and out. The Parque Nacional Alerce Costero, home to the Gran Abuelo (Spanish for "great grandfather"), promised a much easier option. Or so we thought.

Entrance to the Parque Nacional Alerce Costero in southern Chile(Credit: Nick Lavars/New Atlas)

The national park opened in 2012 and is only 137 km (85 mi) from Valdivia, with paved roads two thirds of the way and a leisurely three-hour stroll through native forest to reach the main attraction. And so it was smooth sailing until we hit the end of the pavement, where our little Suzuki became a slow-moving mechanical bull, bucking its way across 40 km (25 mi) of broken, dusty trail.

A three hour cruise had become an uncomfortable five-plus hour trip, but disagreeable journeys can have some unexpected upsides. As it turned out, the Parque Nacional Alerce Costero was far enough off the beaten track to discourage even a single visitor that day. Including the park ranger, apparently. With nothing but a vacant lodge and dubious guard dog to greet us, we were left to our own devices to find a spot to camp, and hopefully, map out a route to the big old tree.

Thankfully, the campsites were clearly defined, as was the trail, which isn't always something you can count on when trekking around these parts. The 5-km (3.1 mi) circuit follows an old logging route, used to funnel huge pieces of timber out of the forest on oxen back in the 1940s. This links up with a creek that sweeps dead alerce downstream toward the mouth of the nearby Bueno River, where native communities used to gather up the materials back in the day.

The beautiful trail criss-crosses the creek as it runs through thick native forest, home to more than 60 wildlife species, including raptors, pumas, the extremely shy pudu, which is the smallest deer in the world, and Darwin's frog, whose tadpoles you can spy swimming through the icy waters. Other species of tree include the coigüe, ulmo and tineo, which sprung up in the aftermath of forest fires, some of which are as old as 300 years.

There are quite few ways you could describe the walk, but "leisurely three-hour stroll" is definitely not one of them. It is a steep descent down to the riverbank, with uneven, slippery terrain made all the more inhospitable by sprawling tree roots and jagged rock. So it was after our fair share of riverside breathers that we crossed one final rope bridge, trudged up a few flights of stairs and flopped onto the platform before the mighty Gran Abuelo.

Standing more than 60 m tall (196 ft) with a diameter of 4 m (13 ft) and perimeter of 11 m (36 ft), the "Alerce Milenario" is quite the sight. It's big, but not outta-this-world big. It's thick, but not impossibly so. Yet something suggests you sit down for a moment to take it all in, possibly because of its intriguingly weathered exterior, and almost certainly because you've just hauled ass for two hours to see it.

In 1993, researchers used growth-ring counting to verify the age of the Gran Abuelo, placing it at 3,622 years young. Because a lot of the larger specimens were logged in the centuries previous, it's quite possible that some alerces grew to be even older than this, the remnants of which can probably be observed as roof shingles on homes in the nearby towns.

While 3,622 years is a decent stint, the Gran Abuelo isn't the oldest living tree on the planet. That title goes to California's ghoulish bristlecone pine, which as of 2016, has 4,848 years under its belt. But still, 3,622 years is long enough to see dynasties form and fade, civilizations rise and fall, and real estate tycoons become leaders of the free world. Not to mention the countless other species to have been wiped from the Earth since it popped its head up around 1,500 BCE. So to see its wrinkled flesh up close is pretty humbling. And pretty awesome.

While 3,622 is a decent stint, the Gran Abuelo isn't the oldest living tree on the planet(Credit: Nick Lavars/New Atlas)

After some time admiring the tree and doing our best to squeeze it into a photo, it was time to bid our barky friend adieu and complete the return leg of the trek: a smoother but still demanding ascent back to the camping area. It was only here that we encountered our first humans on the trail, an oncoming couple with a smiling child who if we had to guess, probably wouldn't be smiling a little further down the track.

Flush with snow-capped volcanos, turquoise streams and enough green to make Snoop Dogg's eyes water, Chile's picturesque river and lake regions are adored by locals. But at around 1,000 km (621 mi) south of the capital, Santiago, they are often leap-frogged by foreign visitors with their eyes on Chile's crown jewel, Torres Del Paine National Park in the deep south. If you do happen to find yourself in the area with some time to spare, we recommend stopping to smell the roses. You might just stumble across an ancient tree with no one else around.


O que aconteceria se o mundo inteiro virasse vegetariano? - BBC Brasil




Rachel Nuwer Da BBC Future


Image copyright iStock Image caption Produção de alimentos responde por até 30% das emissões de carbono no mundo

Há uma série de motivos pelos quais as pessoas se tornam vegetarianas. Algumas se dizem contrárias ao sofrimento dos animais, enquanto outras tentam manter um estilo de vida mais saudável, por exemplo.

Por mais que seus amigos "carnívoros" neguem, vegetarianos têm razão: reduzir a ingestão de carne traz muitos benefícios à saúde e ao planeta. E quanto mais novos adeptos, mais essas vantagens são reproduzidas em escala global.

Mas se todos nós resolvêssemos nos tornar vegetarianos inveterados, as consequências poderiam ser dramáticas para milhões - ou até bilhões - de pessoas.

"Trata-se de um conto de dois mundos", define Andrew Jarvis, do Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), com sede na Colômbia. "Em países desenvolvidos, o vegetarianismo traria vários tipos de vantagens para a saúde pública e para o meio ambiente. Mas nas nações em desenvolvimento, poderia haver ainda mais pobreza."


Bife x carros

Legumes e verduras à venda 

Image copyright iStock Image caption Se o vegetarianismo fosse adotado globalmente até 2050, teríamos 7 milhões a menos de mortes por ano

Jarvis e seus colegas analisaram a hipótese de todos os habitantes da Terra mudarem suas dietas da noite para o dia.

Primeiro, eles observaram o impacto nas mudanças climáticas. A produção de alimentos responde por algo entre 25% e 30% de todas as emissões de gases de efeito estufa geradas pelo homem em todo o mundo. E o grosso disso vem da pecuária.

Apesar disso, o impacto de nossa alimentação sobre o clima é frequentemente subestimado. Nos Estados Unidos, por exemplo, uma família de quatro pessoas emite mais gases de efeito estufa por comer carne do que por dirigir dois carros. Mas, em geral, são os veículos motorizados - e não bifes - que aparecem como vilões nas discussões sobre o aquecimento global.

"Muitas pessoas não pensam nas consequências que a produção de alimentos tem sobre o clima", diz Tim Benton, especialista em segurança alimentar da Universidade de Leeds, no Reino Unido. "Mas se consumirmos um pouco menos de carne hoje em dia, deixaremos um mundo um pouco melhor para nossos filhos e netos."

Marco Springmann, pesquisador no programa Future of Food, da Universidade de Oxford, tentou quantificar esse argumento, construindo modelos computadorizados que simularam o que aconteceria se todos os seres humanos se tornassem vegetarianos até 2050.

Os resultados indicam que, graças à eliminação da carne vermelha da dieta, as emissões ligadas à produção de alimentos cairiam 60%. E se o mundo todo passasse a ser vegano - sem consumir nenhum produto de origem animal - a queda seria de 70%.

"Esse cenário não é muito realista", admite Springmann. "Mas destaca a importância que as emissões relacionadas à produção de alimentos terão no futuro."


Mais florestas e biodiversidade

Loja de embutidos na Espanha 

Image copyright iStock Image caption Eliminação completa da carne traria um enorme impacto na identidade de alguns povos, como os espanhóis

A indústria alimentícia, especialmente a pecuária, também toma muito espaço, o que provoca emissões com a transformação do uso da terra e com a perda da biodiversidade. Dos quase 5 bilhões hectares de terra usados atualmente no mundo para a produção de alimentos, 68% são usados para a pecuária.

Se todos nós virássemos vegetarianos, em um mundo ideal, nós dedicaríamos 80% desses pastos ao reflorestamento, o que aumentaria a absorção de carbono e aliviaria as mudanças climáticas.

Transformar antigas pastagens em habitats nativos também seria uma bênção para a biodiversidade, inclusive para grandes herbívoros como os búfalos, que perderam seu espaço para o gado bovino, e para predadores como os lobos, frequentemente mortos por atacarem ovinos, suínos e aves.

Os 10% a 20% de pastos restantes poderiam ser usados para o cultivo de mais alimentos com a finalidade compensar as falhas no abastecimento de comida. Apesar de um aumento relativamente pequeno na área cultivada, isso compensaria a perda da carne, já que um terço das terras hoje é usada para produzir alimentos para o gado - não para humanos.

No entanto, o reflorestamento ou a conversão das terras para o plantio precisariam de planejamento e investimento, já que as pastagens tendem a ser altamente degradadas. "Você não pode simplesmente tirar o gado de uma fazenda e esperar que o lugar se torne uma floresta primária sozinho", diz Jarvis.


Impacto econômico


Image copyright iStock Image caption Família americana de quatro pessoas emite mais gases de efeito estufa ao consumir carne do que ao dirigir dois carros

As pessoas envolvidas na indústria da carne também precisariam de ajuda para mudar de carreira, arrumando novas posições na agricultura, no reflorestamento ou produzindo bioenergia a partir de derivados dos produtos atualmente usados como ração de gado.

Alguns fazendeiros também poderiam receber pagamento para continuar cultivando parte de seu gado com o objetivo de manter a biodiversidade.

Se não conseguíssemos criar alternativas profissionais e subsídios para essas pessoas, seria possível imaginar uma alta taxa de desemprego e uma grande inquietação social, especialmente nas comunidades rurais ligadas ao setor pecuário.

"Há mais de 3,5 bilhões de ruminantes domésticos em todo o planeta, além de dezenas de bilhões de aves produzidas e mortas a cada ano para servirem de alimento", explica Ben Phalan, que pesquisa o equilíbrio entre demanda alimentar e biodiversidade na Universidade de Cambridge, na Grã-Bretanha. "Estamos falando de um enorme transtorno para a economia."


Tradições carnívoras

Mas até mesmo os planos mais bem executados provavelmente não seriam capazes de oferecer um modo de vida alternativo para todas as pessoas que atualmente trabalham na pecuária. Cerca de um terço das terras do mundo são áridas ou semiáridas e só comportam a criação de animais.

"Sem gado, a vida em algumas regiões seria impossível", diz Phalan. Isso inclui particularmente povos nômades que, sem seus animais, seriam obrigados a se assentarem em algum povoado ou cidade, perdendo sua identidade cultural.

Até mesmo pessoas cujas vidas não dependem apenas da pecuária poderiam sofrer, já que pratos à base de carne fazem parte da história, da tradição e da cultura de vários povos. "O impacto cultural de abrir mão da carne seria enorme, e é um dos motivos pelo qual os esforços para reduzir o consumo acabam fracassando", explica o cientista.


Menos mortes e doenças crônicas


Agricultora trabalhando em canavial

Image copyright iStock Image caption Estudos apontam que populações rurais em países em desenvolvimento poderiam enfrentar mais pobreza com "vegetarianismo universal"

Os efeitos na saúde também seriam variados. O modelo de Springmann mostra que se todos nós adotássemos uma dieta vegetariana até 2050, veríamos uma redução na mortalidade global de 6% a 10%, graças a uma menor incidência de doenças cardíacas, diabetes, derrames e alguns tipos de câncer.

Isso não seria apenas o resultado de eliminar a carne vermelha, mas também por causa da redução de calorias e do aumento da ingestão de frutas e legumes.

E com menos pessoas sofrendo de doenças crônicas relacionadas à dieta, isso também traria um corte nos gastos da saúde pública, economizando de 2% a 3% do PIB global.

Mas para que isso aconteça seria necessário encontrar substitutos apropriados do ponto de vista nutricional, especialmente para os mais de 2 bilhões de subnutridos que existem em todo o mundo. Alimentos de origem animal possuem mais nutrientes por caloria do que certos grãos. "O vegetarianismo em escala global poderia criar uma crise de saúde no mundo em desenvolvimento porque de onde traríamos esses micronutrientes?", pergunta Benton.


Com moderação

Felizmente, o mundo inteiro não precisa adotar o vegetarianismo ou veganismo para que possamos ter os benefícios sem os prejuízos.

Em vez disso, é fundamental uma moderação na frequência com que se come carne e no tamanho das porções.

Um estudo comprovou que se a Grã-Bretanha adotasse as recomendações alimentares da Organização Mundial de Saúde (OMS), suas emissões de gases de efeito estufa cairiam 17% - algo que poderia cair ainda outros 40% se os habitantes evitassem produtos de origem animal e alimentos processados.

"São pequenas mudanças que os consumidores nem perceberiam. Não seria algo como ser vegetariano versus ser carnívoro", explica Jarvis.

Regenerative Medicine Biomanufacturing





Advanced therapies are demonstrating promising clinical efficacy and could change the paradigm for treating a wide range of diseases and injuries. Clinical translation of this broad class of new therapeutics requires better defined and characterized products and more robust, reliable, and cost-effective manufacturing processes.

NIST contributes to this effort by 1) developing measurement solutions, 2) serving as a neutral ground for the discussion of underpinning measurements and other manufacturing needs, and 3) leading and contributing to the development of standards. These efforts work collectively to to facilitate advances in R&D and manufacturing. 


Laboratory Programs

Development of a measurement infrastructure, including enabling tools, methods and protocols, and informatics for quantitative imaging, quantiative flow cytometry, tissue engineering, genomic measurements and  gene editing, and cell assays.

Measurement Assurance

The challenges in characterization of advanced therapy products may be largely addressed with systematic approaches for assessing sources of uncertainty and improving confidence in key measurements. NIST is developing strategies to ensure measurement confidence and discusses them in terms of how they can be applied to characterization of advanced therapy products.


Standards are critical in the development and commercialization of new technologies and facilitate national and international commerce. Standards also have an important role to ensure product consistency and facilitate regulatory approval. NIST is working to develop Standard Reference Materials and Documentary Standards with key stakeholders to develop standards for this field, including leading and contributing to various Standards Development Organizations (SDO) including ASTMi and ISO.

Stakeholder Engagement

NIST works with industry, academia, and other agencies to identify and develop measurement solutions.

Additional Information/Resources

Please click here to check out useful information.

Created September 06, 2016, Updated October 28, 2016

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Help Improve Aircraft Propulsion Design




Pleiades simulation design for new aircraft propulsion system

NASA and aviation industry partners are collaborating on the development of green aviation technologies. One concept studied at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, is the contra-rotating open rotor propulsion system, which has two ultra-thin blades spinning in opposite directions on the same shaft, similar to the blades on a giant kitchen blender. These contra-rotating blades rotate around the outside of a turbofan jet engine, like that commonly used in modern airliners. This unique design allows air to flow more efficiently through the turbofan blades to improve flight performance, reduce carbon emissions and decrease blade rotation noise.

For the past year, researchers at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at Ames have produced first-of-a kind simulations of sound produced by air – aeroacoustics – to reliably predict noise sources for contra-rotating open rotors. This image was generated from a computer simulation of a contra-rotating, open-rotor design in which red particles are “released” on the upstream blades, blue on the aft blades. Solid colors are released on the blade tips, while faded colors are on the blade trailing edges. The basket-weave pattern shows where particles interact with each other — one of the sources of blade noise.

Using computational fluid dynamics methods and the Pleiades supercomputer, the NAS team verified the simulation accuracy and compared sound pressure level ranges with extensive wind tunnel test data from NASA’s Glenn Research Center and General Electric. Their simulations and results matched closely with the wind tunnel test results for sounds produced by the rotating blades.

The analysis requires a massive amount of computing power and time. Currently, the NAS team is researching ways to speed up the simulation and analysis process and cut down on computing resources needed to design planes that are more Earth-friendly.

More information and simulation video on the NAS website

​Visualizer/Animator: Tim Sandstrom (CSC Government Solutions LLC), Ames Research Center
Scientists: Michael F. Barad, Christoph Brehm (USRA), Jeffrey Housman, Cetin Kiris, Ames Research Center
Writer: Jill Dunbar (CSC Government Solutions LLC), Ames Research Center

Image credit: NASA Ames / Tim Sandstrom
Media contact:
Kimberly Williams, Ames Research Center

Last Updated: Nov. 9, 2016

Editor: Kimberly Williams

Solar-powered two-seater plane will soar to the edge of space






The aim of the SolarStratos project is to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy(Credit: Creatorz Deitz)

Stu Robarts

Solar planes have already traversed the Alps and flown around the world, but one team has its sights set a little higher: the edge of space. SolarStratos is planning to fly a solar-powered plane to an altitude of over 80,000 ft (24,000 m), from where the curvature of the Earth as well as daytime stars will be visible.

The aim of the project is to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy and to explore the possibility of flying people to such altitudes using solar technology. Although it began in 2014, it has hit a significant milestone this month with the completion of the hangar that will serve as the team's operational base, in which the SolarStratos plane will be developed and maintained and from where testing will be carried out.

The plane has been built by electric- and solar-aircraft firm PC-Aero, which was behind the Elektra One plane, and its solar systems have been developed by the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology. It is said to be the first commercial two-seater solar plane in history and the first that will reach the stratosphere. It measures 8.5-m (27.9-ft) long, has a wingspan of 24.9 m (81.7 ft) and weighs in at just 450 kg (992 lb).

There are 22 sq m (237 sq ft) of solar panels covering the plane that power a 32-kW electric engine and charge a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery. These will apparently allow the plane to stay airborne for over 24 hours, although its inaugural flight is slated to be a little shorter, clocking in at five hours – two to ascend, 15 minutes to look around, and three hours to descend.

To save weight during the flight, the plane will not be pressurized. Instead, pilot Raphaël Domjan will wear a pressurized suit, like those worn by astronauts. As the suit will be connected to and powered by the plane, it will not allow him, should the need arise, to eject or to use a parachute. Among the factors at play will be temperatures as low as 70 °C (-94 °F) and atmospheric pressure of around 5 percent that on Earth.

Domjan apparently had the idea for the SolarStratos project during the Atlantic crossing of his PlanetSolar boat's round-the-world journey. The hangar and the plane are due to be publicly launched on December 7th, with test flights scheduled to begin early next year. The mission itself is currently set for 2018.

The exceptionally well-done video below provides an idea of what the journey will be like.

Source: SolarStratos

Neurological Devices



Neurological Devices

Silhouette of a head with brightly colored swirls to represent brain activity.

Neurological devices can help diagnose, prevent, and treat a variety of neurological disorders and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, major depression, epilepsy, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury. Neurological devices can be used to help restore hearing and sight and provide increased function for those with limb loss or congenital limb differences. Examples of neurological devices include diagnostics, neurointerventional, neurostimulation, physical medicine and rehabilitation devices.

The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health works with manufacturers and developers to support innovation and bring patients in the US access to safe and effective devices first in the world.

It also conducts regulatory research regulatory research to support the development of medical devices and monitors the safety of devices on the market. As a partner in the White House BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, the FDA is working to enhance the transparency and predictability of the regulatory process for developers and innovators of neurological medical devices.

This webpage is intended to assist neurological device developers, sponsors and innovators with navigating the regulatory process. It provides insight into the premarket review process and the scientific, clinical and regulatory considerations to bringing new neurological devices to market.

For additional information, including a complete overview of the FDA’s regulatory process, visit:

Consumer Updates > How to Treat Impetigo and Control This Common Skin Infection





On this page:

It’s a scary sight when your child comes home from day care or elementary school with red sores and oozing fluid-filled blisters. Don’t be alarmed if it’s impetigo. Impetigo — one of the most common childhood diseases — can be treated with medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection that can produce blisters or sores anywhere on the body, but usually on the face (around the nose and mouth), neck, hands, and diaper area. It’s contagious, preventable, and manageable with antibiotics, says pediatrician Thomas D. Smith, MD, of FDA.

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What Causes Impetigo

Two types of bacteria found on our skin cause impetigo: Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes (which also causes strep throat). Most of us go about our lives carrying around these bacteria without a problem, Smith says. But then a minor cut, scrape or insect bite allows the bacteria to cause an infection, resulting in impetigo.

Anyone can get impetigo — and more than once, Smith says. Although impetigo is a year-round disease, it occurs most often during the warm weather months. There are more than 3 million cases of impetigo in the United States every year.

“We typically see impetigo with kids 2 to 6 years old, probably because they get more cuts and scrapes and scratch more. And that spreads the bacteria,” Smith says.

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Treating Impetigo

Look for these signs of impetigo:

  • itchy red sores that fill with fluid and then burst open, forming a yellow crust
  • itchy rash
  • fluid-filled blisters

If you see those symptoms, visit your health care provider. Impetigo is usually treated with topical or oral antibiotics. If you have multiple lesions or if there is an outbreak, your doctor might prescribe an oral antibiotic. There is no over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for impetigo.

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Controlling and Preventing Impetigo

Untreated, impetigo often clears up on its own after a few days or weeks, Smith says. The key is to keep the infected area clean with soap and water and not to scratch it. The downside of not treating impetigo is that some people might develop more lesions that spread to other areas of their body.

And you can infect others. “To spread impetigo, you need fairly close contact — not casual contact — with the infected person or the objects they touched,” he says. Avoid spreading impetigo to other people or other parts of your body by:

  • Cleaning the infected areas with soap and water.
  • Loosely covering scabs and sores until they heal.
  • Gently removing crusty scabs.
  • Washing your hands with soap and water after touching infected areas or infected persons.

Because impetigo spreads by skin-to-skin contact, there often are small outbreaks within a family or a classroom, Smith says. Avoid touching objects that someone with impetigo has used, such as utensils, towels, sheets, clothing and toys. If you have impetigo, keep your fingernails short so the bacteria can’t live under your nails and spread. Also, don’t scratch the sores.

Call your health care provider if the symptoms don’t go away or if there are signs the infection has worsened, such as fever, pain, or increased swelling.

This article appears on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

November 1, 2016

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Racism and sexism seep into the data that power the gig economy




Will Knight

A new study suggests that racial and gender bias affect the freelancing websites TaskRabbit and Fiverr—and may be baked into underlying algorithms.

  • November 17, 2016

Illustration by Matthew Hollister

Apps and sites that can be used to hire people for individual tasks like picking up groceries or designing a new logo have taken off in recent years, promising a more efficient and fairer marketplace for employment. However, a new study out of Northeastern University in Boston suggests that racial and sexual discrimination may be common on two popular “gig economy” platforms.

Researchers led by Christo Wilson, an assistant professor at Northeastern, and Ancsa Hannák, a PhD student, examined TaskRabbit, a platform for hiring people to run errands, and Fiverr, a marketplace for creative services. On both, they found evidence of bias along racial and gender lines.

It’s just one example of how bias creeps into online platforms and services. And it’s troubling because the gig economy promised to be not only more efficient and flexible, but also less biased—since algorithms do the work of connecting people.

On Fiverr, the researchers found evidence that black and Asian workers received lower ratings than white people. And on TaskRabbit, women received fewer reviews than men, and black workers received lower ratings than white ones. Perhaps most troubling, the researchers also found evidence of such bias in the recommendation algorithm on TaskRabbit. The research will be presented at an academic conference in New York this week.

It’s impossible to say for certain that the correlation identified by Wilson and Hannák is due to racial and gender bias on the part of hirers, as opposed to some unknown confounding factor, but Wilson says the pattern is concerning. “We’re told this is the future of labor,” he says. “If you’re going to roll out an algorithm that’s going to be used by millions of people, you have some kind of responsibility to the public to examine what you’re deploying, evaluate it, and see if it’s going to have any of these negative side effects.”

A spokesperson for Fiverr argues that the study’s methodology was flawed in that it ignores factors such as international boundaries and language differences. She also notes that users do not have to provide any demographic information in order to use the service, making it easy to avoid discrimination. TaskRabbit did not respond to a request for comment.

There is, however, growing evidence that bias can affect all sorts of digital services. Last month, researchers from MIT, Stanford, and the University of Washington discovered that that Uber drivers in Boston canceled trips more often for customers with African-American-sounding names, and that black Uber customers in Seattle faced longer wait times than their white counterparts. In a study published last year, researchers at CMU found evidence that ads for high-paying jobs were shown more often to men than to women.

In many cases the bias seen just reflects what’s found in the real world, such as the conscious and subconscious prejudice employers may bring to hiring decisions. So for recommendation engines or machine-learning systems, the question is how bias might be removed, either from the data sets fed to algorithms or from the algorithms themselves.

“People have this idea that because it’s a computer it’s neutral,” Wilson adds. “If you have data that’s biased, it makes sense that you’re going to train an algorithm that’s biased.”

Don MacKenzie, an assistant professor at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the recent Uber study, stresses that the study doesn’t prove racial or gender bias is at play. But he says it is important to consider bias in the gig economy and underlying algorithms—adding that the problem should be manageable if companies are careful.

“This is an emerging area, and if there is a set of best practices, I am not aware of it,” MacKenzie says. “From my perspective, companies, developers, and data scientists should be watchful, listen to feedback, and not be afraid to try out different solutions. I think if everyone approaches these issues in good faith, constructively, and with a willingness to try different things, we can get closer to eliminating bias in these systems.”

Japanese paper artist replicates amazing wild animals using intricately bound newspaper




by Cat DiStasio

While origami results in some pretty incredible paper animals, no folded crane can hold a candle to these intricate and insanely accurate creatures created by Chie Hitotsuyama. The Japanese paper artist gives everyday newspaper a new life by folding, rolling, and stacking it into the form of some of the world’s most recognizable animals, and some of her paper creations are practically life-size.

Over the past four years, Hitotsuyama and her team have worked to create lifelike paper creatures with staggering accuracy. After wetting the newspaper, they twist, fold, squish, and roll it, and then bind it into the desired form. The artist builds paper sculptures representing everything from manatees to monkeys, including some endangered animals such as rhinoceros and sea turtles. Hitotsuyama even takes advantage of color-printed newspapers in some sculptures, using the gradations to mimic the animal’s actual coloring. Every inch of every intricately bound animal sculpture is made entirely by hand.

Related: Milan artist creates remarkable handcrafted wave sculptures out of paper

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Each carefully sculpted paper animal takes hours upon hours to create, even with a team effort. Although the photographs of the sculptures are incredible, getting a chance to see the nearly life-size paper animals up close would certainly be an awe-inspiring way to spend an afternoon. Some of Hitotsuyama’s sculptures are currently on display at MOAH:CEDAR in Lancaster, California through January 7, 2017.

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It’s worth noting that paper is not a new fascination for Hitotsuyama’s family. They once operated a paper strip manufacturing plant in Fuji city in Shizuoka prefecture, southwest from Tokyo. Now, the artist’s studio is housed in a warehouse connected to that same paper plant.

+ Hitotsuyama Studio

Via MyModernMet

Images via Hitotsuyama Studio