Category Archives: Health

Berkeley Discovers A Way To Recycle Wasted Heat

By: MIchael Irving of NewAtlas

Waste heat generated by electronics is a big problem. Not only can it damage components if it gets out of hand, but it represents a large amount of energy going to waste. Now scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a thin film that could be built into computers, cars or factories to capture and recycle the energy from waste heat.

Many existing systems that tap into this energy source work on the thermoelectric principle, which generates electricity through the temperature difference between two sides of a material. That works well for devices like the JikoPower, which captures heat from pots and pans while cooking to charge phones, but it’s not much use for smaller temperature differences between the hot and cold sides of a material.

The UC Berkeley team wanted to create a device that could tap into what’s known as low-quality waste heat, which involves temperatures below 100° C (212° F). To do so, the new film works on the principle of pyroelectric energy conversion, which can work with lower temperatures and more gradual changes. That makes it ideal for use in electronics.

“We know we need new energy sources, but we also need to do better at utilizing the energy we already have,” says Lane Martin, senior author of the study. “These thin films can help us squeeze more energy than we do today out of every source of energy.”

The team built prototype devices that supplied heat and electric fields to pyroelectric films just 50 to 100 nanometers thick, and measured the temperature and amount of electricity they generated. The devices managed to achieve an energy density of 1.06 Joules per cm3, a power density of 526 W per cm3, and a Carnot efficiency of 19 percent. According to the team, all of these figures are new records for this kind of pyroelectric energy conversion.

The researchers say their work helps improve our understanding of pyroelectric physics, which in turn can improve how these devices are designed. In future, the films could be optimized for individual systems, depending on how much heat is being lost and at what temperature.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is create a protocol that allows us to push the extremes of pyroelectric materials so that you can give me a waste-heat stream and I can get you a material optimized to address your problems,” says Martin.

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7 Inmates Killed In Mass Casualty Accident

By: DWAYNE MCLEMORE, TEDDY KULMALA AND EMILY BOHATCH of The State

Seven inmates were killed during fights that lasted more than seven hours at a South Carolina prison Sunday night and into Monday morning, according to officials.

At least six emergency agencies responded to the “mass casualty incident” at Lee Correctional Institution in Lee County that resulted in the seven inmate deaths and 17 other inmates requiring medical attention, the S.C. Department of Corrections announced early Monday morning.

The fight, which spanned three dorms, was likely gang related, and spawned from a disagreement over territory, contraband and cellphones, SC Department of Corrections Director Brian Stirling said.

“These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they’re incarcerated,” Stirling said.

Though most of the autopsies have yet to be performed, it appears that many of the prisoners died from stabbing or slashing wounds from “shanks,” Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said. The official cause of death will not be determined until after the autopsies.

Videos that reportedly were taken by inmates inside the prison and shared to social media show the grisly scene after the riot.

One video, which was shot from what looks like a catwalk on the upper level of a cellblock, shows towels or clothing items on the floor and a long trail of what appears to be smeared blood leading to a larger puddle of blood near a wall. Another video shows a bloody man lying on his side against a wall, not moving.

The seven victims were identified Monday morning. Logan said coroner’s offices from across the state reached out to him and offered to assist on the numerous autopsies.

An inmate told The Associated Press that bodies at the prison were “literally stacked on top of each other” and that hours after the violence started, no correctional officers or medical personnel attended to the dead or dying.

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Portugal Ran 100% Of It’s Energy On Renewable Energy March 2018

By: Michael Coren of Quartz

Portugal’s renewable electricity production exceeded monthly consumption for what is likely the first time, in March, according to the nation’s transmission system operator, REN.The average renewable generation for the month exceeded 103% of consumption, beating out the last record (99.2%), set in 2014.

It almost certainly won’t be the last time. The country is predicting that renewables will satisfy its mainland electricity needs by 2040, ultimately eliminating the electricity sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. Although most of last month’s electricity came from water and wind (link in Portuguese), the country relied on some fossil fuel and imported electricity. Water- and wind-generated power can be rather unpredictable, so even as total renewable generation exceeded Portugal’s electricity consumption for the month (as well as some exports), Portugal needed those sources to even out supply.

An international debate is gathering steam about whether 100% renewable energy is possible (or even advisable). Portugal’s feat, the result of decades of investment in low-carbon technology, shows it is possible, but plenty of caveats remain. The grid only ran on 100% renewables for relatively short periods: two 70 hour spans (Portugal managed a four-day streak in 2016). But imports and conventional generation from natural gas were still needed to balance the grid because solar and wind can vary significantly. The proposition that a full year’s worth of peaks and valleys can be managed with renewables alone has yet to be tested. During the same period last year, renewables supplied only 6% of Portugal’s electricity (thanks in part to a drought that reduced its hydro capacity).

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Penn State Researchers Discover The Benefit of Education Investment

By: Matt Swayne

Investing in education may help boost economic opportunities for the next generation, according to a team of economists.

In a study, researchers suggest that investing in public education can lead to more upward economic mobility and lower teen pregnancy rates, as well as provide a way to ease income inequality.

“It’s something we’ve long suspected, but this study really confirms that there’s a strong link between the quality of the schools you go to and the opportunities you have later in life,” said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics, Penn State and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. “The better your school, the better your economic opportunities.”

The study, which focused on public spending in education and returns from education, as well as taxation, indicated that communities that invested more in education had lower drop-out rates and fewer teen pregnancies.

The researchers, who released their findings in a recent issue of Economic Development Quarterly, added that reducing the high school dropout rate had nearly twice the beneficial effect on upward mobility as on reducing teen birth rates.

According to the researchers, poor school quality can lead to a cascade of economic and social ills. For example, the lower the school quality, the higher the dropout rate, which can lead to higher numbers of teen pregnancies, said Goetz.

“Because the dropout rate negatively affects both teen birth rates and absolute upward mobility, this shows that school quality not only has short-term impacts on educational outcomes, but also has long-term impacts on children’s success as adults,” said Goetz.

The researchers also said that, often, the only way up economically for young people in rural communities is to move out.

“One finding — that rural young people rely on moving out of the area to move up in the income rankings — presents a challenge for  policy makers who not only care about prosperity for people, but also for places,” said Minghao Li, a former graduate student in rural agricultural, environmental and regional economics, Penn State, and now a postdoctoral researcher at Iowa State. “To be able to retain talented children, rural areas need to create high-skilled jobs and favorable environments for start-up entrepreneurs.”

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Chemo Therapy Free Cancer Fighting Vaccine Moves To Human Trials

By: Ted Andersen of SFGate

A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97 percent of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial.

The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body’s immune system to attack tumors.

“Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer,” Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study, told SFGATE. “People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be.”

The treatment is not a true vaccine that creates lasting immunity, but it does feature a vaccine-like injection carrying two immune stimulators that activate the immune system’s T cells to eliminate tumors throughout the body.

Each test subject receives a low dose of radiation plus two rounds of the injected agents, Levy said. No chemotherapy is involved.

The treatment does not work on all types of cancer, Levy said, because each type of cancer has a different set of rules regarding how it can be affected by the immune system.

For the current trials, he is only looking for people with low-grade lymphoma regardless if they have been previously treated. He said Stanford is planning on running two trials by the end of the year with a total of about 35 test subjects.

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China Claims North Korea Agrees To Denuclearize

By: CNBC

China said on Wednesday it won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during a meeting with President Xi Jinping, who pledged in return that China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbor.

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what the official Xinhua news agency called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

The trip was Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough U.N. sanctions in response.

Xinhua cited Kim as telling Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula is starting to improve because North Korea has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to Xinhua.

North Korea is willing to talk with the United States and hold a summit between the two countries, he said.

“The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim said.

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Scientists Use Nanobots to Deliver Medicine in The Blood Stream

By: Sarah Shearman of Financial Times

A new prospect for cancer treatment opened up last month, when researchers for the first time successfully used tiny, nanometre-sized robots to treat cancerous tumours in mice.

Researchers from Arizona State University and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences injected nanobots made from a folded sheet of DNA into the bloodstream of mice. These targeted the blood vessels around cancerous tumours, injecting them with bloodclotting drugs to cut off their blood supply.According to the study, publiahed in Nature Biotechnology in February, the treatment was successful in shrinking the tumours and inhibiting their spread.

The idea of armies of minuscule robots patrolling our bodies, cleaning and maintaining them has been a theme in science fiction for decades. The plot of a1966 film Fantastic Voyage in which a submarine of scientists is shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the blood stream of a colleague in order to help save his life, is now coming closer to reality.

Scientists are exploring the use of nanobots for a number of healthcare uses, not only for fighting cancer, but also to unblock blood vessels in hard to reach areas, taking biopsies or measuring the level of certain chemicals in otherwise inaccessible areas of the body.

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Lab Grown Meals May Be Closer To Your Plate Than You Think

By: Lucy Pasha-Robinson of The Independent

Meat grown in a laboratory could be on restaurant menus by the end of the year, one manufacturer has claimed.

In vitro animal products, sometimes referred to as “clean meat”, are made from stem cells harvested via biopsy from living livestock, which are then grown in a lab over a number of weeks.

Some environmentalists believe the process could be the key to reducing global warming, with one study predicting it could lower harmful greenhouse emissions by 96 per cent.

And the first products could be available for human consumption within months, according to Josh Tetrick, CEO of clean meat manufacturer JUST.

Chicken nuggets, sausage and foie gras created using the technique could be served in restaurants in the US and Asia “before the end of 2018”, he told CNN.

But public perception and a reluctance to diverge from traditional farmed meat still represent considerable hurdles for the clean meat industry to overcome, he said.

“Gnarly problems, communication issues, regulatory issues,” would have to be solved before products went to market, he said in a separate interview with The Guardian.

His stance is shared by Mosa Meat, whose lab based at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, was responsible for creating the world’s first cultured hamburger.

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Research Shows Positive Brain Developments From Patients on LSD

By: Eric Dolan of PsyPost

New brain published in the journal Scientific Reports sheds new light on how LSD produces its psychedelic effects. The drug resulted in the “emergence of new type of order in the brain,” the researchers found.

The study used a new mathematical method to analyze brain activity, known as connectome-harmonic decomposition, to examine how LSD caused alterations in consciousness. A connectome is a distinctive pattern of neural connections — like a wiring diagram of the brain.

“I am generally interested in novel therapeutic tools that can help with the healing of psychiatric disorders, especially healing from trauma. I feel that as Western societies we generally tend to label and marginalise mental illness instead of seeing it as a rather normal reaction to extreme and abnormal circumstances,” said Selen Atasoy, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Brain and Cognition at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and lead author of the study.

“This, in my opinion, makes the recovery of a patient from trauma even more difficult, as this perspective of the society may further deepen the ‘dissociation’ – the withdrawal of the person, who experienced the traumatic event, from that painful experience.”

“As Dr. Gabor Mate nicely explains, trauma is not caused by the extremely painful experience itself but rather by our dissociation from that part of ourself that had to bear that experience. When I came across the studies about psychedelics, it was very remarkable to me to see how patients under the effect of psychedelics were able to reclaim and integrate their most traumatic experiences and how that led to a powerful healing process,” Atasoy told PsyPost.

“It is probably due to this effect of psychedelics that a very strong, natural psychedelic – ayahuasca – is considered a very powerful plant medicine in various indigenous cultures and has been used in shamanic healing ceremonies for centuries. On the other hand, neuroscience today has another very powerful tool; the imaging technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) allow us to visualise the brain activity of a person.”

“My research focuses on understanding the changes in brain activity caused by psychedelics using these functional neuroimaging datasets,” Atasoy said. “In the future, my hope is that we can gain some insights into the neural mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of psychedelics and also of other therapeutic tools.”

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Dick’s Sporting Goods To Stop Selling Assault Rifles

By: Julie Creswell of NYT

One of the nation’s largest sports retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, said Wednesday morning it was immediately ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores.

The retailer also said that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines and that it would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws.

The announcement, made two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members, is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate. It also carries symbolic weight, coming from a prominent national gun seller.

Late last week, after coming under attack on social media for their ties to the National Rifle Association, a number of major companies, including Hertz car rental, MetLife insurance and Delta Air Lines, publicly ended those relationships, issuing brief, carefully phrased statements.

But Edward Stack, the 63-year-old chief executive of Dick’s whose father founded the store in 1948, is deliberately steering his company directly into the storm, making clear that the company’s new policy was a direct response to the Florida shooting.

“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” Mr. Stack said in an interview Tuesday evening. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us.”

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