Scientist exploits the secret of plants to protect crops against global warming

Scientist exploits the secret of plants to protect crops against global warming

Climate change is no longer a myth that policy makers can scoff about. No pretending that it doesn’t exist. No pretending that it isn’t already affecting mankind. Not in the face of unprecedented and dramatic weather extremes that people all over the world are living through right now: heat waves, floods, mudslides, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and more.

These severe weather conditions will increasingly affect food security. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the risk of hunger and malnutrition worldwide could increase by as much as 20 percent by 2050, with developing countries predicted to be especially vulnerable.

But mankind has genius on its side – people whose curiosity, observation and love for nature is insisting on finding solutions. One such person is microbiologist Rusty Rodriguez, CEO and founder of Symbiogenics. He gave a fascinating TEDxTalk on his work that promises to secure food production for generations to come (see below).

He believes we can protect crops against global warming by exploiting the secrets of plants that already thrive in the most punishing climates. To find out how plants survive in soil and moisture extremes he and geneticist Regina Redman collected 200 different samples of panic grass in Yellowstone National Park.

Rodriguez and his team studied the plants under microscopes and discovered that all the plants were colonized by the same fungus. The scientists then grew the plants and fungi separately to find out if there were an ecological significance to this association.

They made a significant discovery: when growing separately neither could survive temperatures above 100 degrees but when they grow together they can survive temperatures of 160 degrees and more.

“These plants were no more adapted to those stressors than your average garden plant, but they had adapted by forming symbiotic associations with the microscopic fungi that lived inside them,” says Rodriguez.

The researchers realized they were on to something. They sprayed different agricultural plants with fungi and subjected them to a range of stressed conditions in their lab and discovered that the fungi and the plants survived.

“Some fungi have the ability to form symbiotic associations with plants that are genetically distant from the species they were discovered in,” told his TEDxRainer audience.

This is the key point: fungi can form symbiotic relationships with a large range of different food crops humans need to survive.

“We looked at stress habitats ranging from coastal beaches to high up on Mount Everest. We found that none of the plant survived, except through symbiotic cooperation with microscope fungi that live inside the plants – they grow in between then plant cells.”

The amazing life-saving takeaway?

The scientist developed formulations of micro-organisms that can be sprayed onto the seeds of crop plants and the emergent plants are resistant to drought, temperature and salt stress.

This technology has been proven to increase crop yields and it has happened without requiring additional land, fertilizer, labor or most importantly, water.

“It’s a truly remarkable technology, and you know, it has been developed by nature for about 450 million years,” says Rodriguez.

This is a reminder from nature to all of us that extraordinary things can be achieved through cooperation concluded Rodriguez.

As humanity scrambles for ways to adapt, scientists are looking for ways to protect the future of food. Seattle-based microbiologist Rusty Rodriguez believes one possible solution might be to leverage an ancient cooperative relationship between fungi and plants.

A new discovery is challenging Einstein’s theory of relativity

A new discovery is challenging Einstein’s theory of relativity

Earlier this year, physicists celebrated the discovery of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). These are ripples in spacetime curvature, and they were discovered at the site of a black hole merger, confirming part of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

However, it may be the case that this discovery suggests that the same theory breaks down at the edge of black holes.

Physicists who have studied in more depth LIGO’s data on the black hole merger claim that it reveals “echos” of gravitational waves which contradict what Einstein’s general theory of relativity say should appear.

It used to be that physicists thought Einstein’s theory broke down in extreme conditions like what we find at a black hole’s core. Now, they believe the recently discovered echos indicate that relativity fails around a black hole’s edges.

According to the standard model based on Einstein’s theory, there shouldn’t be anything at the edge of a black hole. This is in contrast with other theories such as quantum physics, which suggests the edge should have a ring of high-energy particles around it.

Cosmologist Niayesh Afshordi of the University of Waterloo in Candada created models of these black hole mergers, assuming they do have something at their edges. The model suggests that black holes do have some kind of structure and not a whole lot of nothingness as suggested by Einstein’s theory of relativity.

“The LIGO detections, and the prospect of many more, offer an exciting opportunity to investigate a new physical regime,” said black-hole researcher Steve Giddings from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

It’s no surprise that we’re finding evidence that confirms one theory and then breaks it the next.

A company is implanting microchips in its employees says it’s no big deal

A company is implanting microchips in its employees says it’s no big deal

It starts innocuously enough.

An implanted chip to buy snacks.

No GPS capability, the company assures us.

No big deal.

Nonetheless, employees around the world are walking around with implanted microchips, offered to them by their employers.

The latest is Three Square Market (32M) based in River Falls, Wisconsin. 32M claims to be the first company in the U.S. to implant employees with an RFID chip. They’ve done this so they can shop at the company’s micro market during break without having to use cash or credit cards. The implants will also allow employees to open doors, login to computers and use the copy machine without the need for passwords.

The company provides self-service “micro markets” – a sophisticated version of a vending machine where employees can buy food and beverages during their break – to businesses around the world.

RFID technology or Radio-Frequency Identification uses electromagnetic fields to identify electronically stored information – it’s also used to track packages in transit. The chip implant uses near-field communications (NFC), the same technology that allows you to pay with your phone by holding it up to a device.

A chip, about the size of a grain of rice, is implanted between the thumb and forefinger underneath the skin at the company’s cost.

Todd Westby, 32M CEO, noted in a press release that the technology will eventually become standardized allowing it to be used in place of a passport, for public transit and shopping.

“We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals,” Westby noted.

32M is partnering with BioHax International and Jowan Osterland, CEO, based out of Sweden. The company decided to chip their employees when they saw the concept in operation in Sweden.

32M is not the only company to tag employees.

In April this year LA Times reported that the Swedish startup hub Epicenter offered to implant workers and start-up members with microchips that function as swipe cards to open doors, operate printer or buy snacks.  Mail Online reported in February that the Belgium digital marketing and tech firm NewFusion, was going to implant identity chips in employees. The chips contain personal information and provide access to the company’s IT systems and headquarters, replacing existing ID cards.

So, being tagged is on the cards so to speak. In the case or 32M the company gives the insurance that employees won’t be tracked, but what about the future, and this practice becomes so common that we don’t even question it anymore? What say will people have on what those innocuous chips are imbedded with?

For now the procedure is quick and free and convenient if it’s too much trouble to remember to take a key, a credit card or a smartphone with you.

For now.

3 modern day health fads that are actually bad for you

3 modern day health fads that are actually bad for you

Why is it so damn hard to lose weight? Seriously? There seems to be a million wants to lose weight, but do any of them actually work?

I mean, isn’t the entire diet industry built on your failure so you will continue to buy their products, drink their shakes, eat their bars, and give them money?

Think about it, the diet industry succeeds where you fail, so why would they give you diet solutions that actually work? You won’t need them if you lose weight successfully. 

That’s why it’s also so hard for people who do lose weight to keep it off. There is an entire industry out there betting against your success. If you manage to lose the weight and keep it off, you must be some kind of superhero because the truth is that diets are designed to fail.

Juicing

Sure, it sounds great: grind up your fruits and vegetables to help you digest your nutrients faster and easier than ever before.

But there is a growing body of evidence and naysayers that say juicing isn’t as healthy as it appears to be. Because people are consuming large amounts of pureed or “juiced” fruits and vegetables, they are forgetting that they are still consuming calories, and they don’t change enough of their lifestyle to actually see results overall.

If you drink a large glass of juiced fruit and vegetables for lunch, you might be tempted to eat a sandwich or grab a high calorie protein bar thinking that you still have many calories left for the day.

What researchers are finding is that if you consume large amounts of fruit in juiced form, you are ingesting a great deal of sugar, which your body processes and then can’t use, and then it turns to fat. Couple that with the added calories, sugar, fat, and sodium of including a meal with your juiced lunch and suddenly you are consuming more calories that you realize.

Fasting and Detoxing

Come on, people. You need food to live. Your brain needs carbohydrates to function. Fasting has been popular for a while and there is mounting evidence that it is a dangerous practice.

When you stop eating for fear of gaining weight, you have effectively given yourself an eating disorder. Sure, overeating is also a form of eating disorder, but at least when you are overeating your brain is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to function.

Your body isn’t starving itself trying to function. Detoxing is a slippery slope as well because it usually means limiting your food intake drastically, but replacing the food you would eat with “good for you” shakes, drinks, pills, and other forms of weight loss products that clean out your gut. Sounds delightful.

People swear by it, but in a world where we have access to so much healthy food, we shouldn’t punish our bodies for our bad choices. Giving your body good, clean food can do more for it than starving ever could.

“Healthy Fats” are Good Fats

There is a growing group of believers that oil and healthy fats can be consumed without consideration. As with anything, moderation is key, but because oils like coconut oil and olive oil have increased in popularity in recent years, people are consuming more saturated fats than they realize.

This study took a shot at the supposed health benefits of coconut oil. They say that the oil has more saturated fat than even butter or lard, but its popularity has surged in recent years due to many reports of health benefits.

It said the “current claims of documented health benefits of the tropical oils are unsubstantiated…and use of these oils should be discouraged.”

People think the counterbalance of the healthy effects outweigh the damage being done by saturated fats.

But think about this for a minute: if a coconut oil manufacturer pays for advertising that says coconut oil is good for you, then you open a magazine and see a full page ad for coconut oil, and then your diet coach tells you to eat a few spoonfuls of oil per day, WHAMO! Suddenly people think it’s okay to eat this stuff by the handfuls.

So whether you are trying to lose 5 pounds or 50 pounds, make sure you do your homework about the options that are out there for you. Start slowly and make little changes that you can see yourself continuing for the rest of your life. Focus on changing your entire lifestyle and not just the food you eat, and you’ll be more likely to experience long term success.

Will this discovery help find a cure for the common cold?

Will this discovery help find a cure for the common cold?

The human race may be divided along racial, religious, ethnic, economic, political and any other arbitrary lines you care to choose, but we all share one enemy: the common cold.

Bringing with it blinding headaches, stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing, the common cold causes days of utter misery for millions of people across the globe every year.

And so far, there’s no cure.

Wouldn’t you jump for sheer joy if you knew that you’ll never see a pale face with a swollen red nose in the bathroom mirror again?

Well, here’s some news that may interest you.

That happy sight might be closer than you think.

Scientists at Edinburgh Napier University have uncovered exciting new possibilities for treating the common cold based on “antimicrobial peptides” that occur naturally in humans and animals, and which increase in response to infection.

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are important components of the innate immune system.

The five-year study into peptides from different mammals found that the peptides had properties that can combat rhinovirus, the main virus responsible for the common cold.

The common cold is a viral infection that attacks the upper respiratory tract, and has long vexed scientists in their attempts to find a cure. Caused by viruses that mutate quickly, colds are difficult to treat because by the time a vaccine has been developed, the virus has mutated again.

Dr Peter Barlow, Associate Professor of Immunology & Infection at Edinburgh Napier described the research results as “an exciting development”.

He said: “There is no cure and no vaccine so the development of effective therapies for human rhinovirus, the main causal agent of the common cold, and one of the most common causes of viral respiratory tract infections, is an urgent requirement. This study represents a major step towards finding a treatment.”

Earlier research by Dr Barlow suggested that treatments that increased the level of antimicrobial peptides in a person infected with the flu virus could be successful in beating the disease.

In this study, researchers Filipa Henderson Sousa and Dr Victor Casanova used peptides “synthesized” in the laboratory to assess the impact of the different peptides on lung cells infected with human rhinovirus.

The peptides successfully attacked the virus. In future treatments for colds could be based on peptides found in nature.

What’s next?

The plan is to modify the peptide to make it even better at killing the rhinovirus. These research findings may be the beginning of the end of an old, nagging foe that nobody would be sorry to see for the last time.

Gesundheit!

Breakthrough nanotechnology can now heal organs with a single touch

Breakthrough nanotechnology can now heal organs with a single touch

A single touch, a single chip and you can be healed of anything.

This is the implication of a breakthrough device developed by Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s College of Engineering.

The device heals organs with a single touch by delivering new DNA or RNA into living skin cells to change their function.

The breakthrough in regenerative medicine has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and explains a new technology called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT).

Here is the key point: the technology can generate any cell type in a patient’s own body.

The implications are enormous, as explained in the video below.

“By using our novel nanochip technology, injured or compromised organs can be replaced. We have shown that skin is a fertile land where we can grow the elements of any organ that is declining,” said Dr. Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies, who co-led the study with L. James Lee, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering with Ohio State’s College of Engineering in collaboration with Ohio State’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.

In their study the researchers were able to reprogram skin cells of pigs and mice to become vascular cells in badly injure legs that had no blood flow. Within one week the blood flow returned and after two weeks the leg healed completely and was saved.

Dr. Sen says the technology isn’t only applicable to skin cells. It can be used on other tissues within the body. In lab tests skin cells were also reprogramed to become nerve cells which were injected into the brains of mice that had suffered stroke.

The scientist says the technology has been successful 98 percent of the time.

It seems impossible.

Just one touch, a process that takes less than a second and is non-invasive. And off you go, all better soon.

The procedure involves one touch of the skin with the device and the “biological cargo” is delivered by zapping the device with a small electrical charge that’s barely felt by the patient. The chip isn’t implanted and the reprogramming starts immediately.

The press release explains that TNT technology has two major components: First is a nanotechnology-based chip designed to deliver cargo to adult cells in the live body. Second is the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion. This cargo, when delivered using the chip, converts an adult cell from one type to another.

That’s not all.

The technology keeps the cells in the body under immune surveillance, so immune suppression is not necessary. Think what this can mean for organ regeneration and, restoring of any aging tissue, including blood vessels and nerve cells.

Sen said they plan to start clinical trials next year to test this technology in humans.