Electric Vehicles Renewables The Changing World Dynamic

first_imgEvery time someone buys or leases an EV, fossil fuel’s stranglehold lessens. That’s the cost differentiation between EVs and ICEs. The individual benefit, as I am enjoying, is autonomy and the opportunity to have free electricity for cars and homes. EVs are thinking people’s cars, yes, and it takes planning and work, but we’ll have a better life and planet for itSource: CleanTechnica Car Reviews RSS Feedlast_img

An EV emoji Electrify America proposes Electric Vehicle With Charger to Unicode

first_imgThere are now about 3,000 emojis, but none for electric cars. Electrify America is out to change that, with a formal proposal and a new petition in pursuit of an EV emoji. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post An EV emoji? Electrify America proposes ‘Electric Vehicle With Charger’ to Unicode Consortium appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Bob Lutz goes after Tesla with lies again

first_imgSome thought that Bob Lutz, a longtime auto executive turned industry commentator, has turned a new leaf when it comes to Tesla after some positive comments about its latest build quality, but the longtime detractor is again going after the company with lies. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post Bob Lutz goes after Tesla with lies again appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

FCPA Enforcement Actions Against Japanese Companies

first_imgWhen thinking of foreign companies that have resolved Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions, most people likely think of German and French companies.Yet, the top domiciliary of foreign companies to resolve FCPA enforcement actions is actually Switizerland (6) and not far behind is Japan (5), likely soon to be 6 after Japan-based Olympus resolves it FCPA scrutiny (see here for the prior post).This post highlights the five FCPA enforcement actions against Japanese Companies (all in the past 4.5 years) that have netted the U.S. treasury approximately $403 million.JGC Corp. (Apr. 2011)See here for the prior post.The company was a joint venture partner in the so-called TSKJ consortium that was formed for purposes of bidding on and performing a series of engineering, procurement, and construction contracts to design and build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, Nigeria. Previous Bonny Island FCPA enforcement actions involved: KBR / Halliburton (see here), Technip (see here) and Snamprogetti (see here).The settlement amount was $218.8 million and the criminal charges were resolved via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement.In the DPA, the DOJ stated:  “after initially declining to cooperate with the Department based on jurisdictional arguments, JGC began to cooperate, and has agreed to continue to cooperate, with the Department.” There is no mention of voluntary disclosure in the settlement documents ((something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).Bridgestone (Sept. 2011)See here for the prior post.The company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Sherman Act and conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The FCPA conduct related to allegations of improper payments to officials in Latin America related to the sale of marine hose and other industrial products.The overall settlement amount was $28 million and from the DOJ’s resolution documents it appears that approximately 80% of the $28 million fine was for the FCPA conduct.In the DOJ’s release, it “recognized Bridgestone’s cooperation with the investigations, including conducting a worldwide internal investigation, voluntarily making employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing and providing to the department voluminous evidence and information.” There is no mention of voluntary disclosure in the settlement documents (something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).Marubeni (Jan. 2012).See here for the prior post.The conduct at issue involved the same Bonny Island, Nigeria conduct in the JGC enforcement action and Marubeni was hired by the TSKJ consortium in connection with the project.The settlement amount was approximately $56 million and the criminal charges were resolved via a DPA. The DOJ made no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in the resolution documents (something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).Marubeni (Mar. 2014)See here for the prior post.The company was a consortium partner along with Alstom in bidding on and carrying out the Tarahan power project in Indonesia and pleaded guilty to making improper payments to a consultant knowing that a portion of the payments were intended for Indonesian officials in exchange for their influence and assistance in awarding the Tarahan Project to Marubeni and Alstom.The settlement amount was $88 million and in the plea agreement the DOJ stated that the fine amount was based on, among other things, “the Defendant’s failure to voluntarily disclose the conduct; the Defendants refusal to cooperate with the Department’s investigation when given the opportunity to do so; the lack of an effective compliance and ethics program at the time of the offense; the Defendant’s failure to properly remediate: and the Defendant’s history of prior criminal misconduct.”Hitachi (Sept. 2015).See here for the prior post.According to the SEC, Hitachi violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions “when it inaccurately recorded improper payments to South Africa’s ruling political party in connection with contracts to build two multi-billion dollar power plants.”The settlement amount was $19 million and there was no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in the SEC resolution documents (something the SEC typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).Olympus (?)As highlighted in this prior post, the company’s most recent disclosure states:“Olympus Corporation hereby announces that Olympus Latin America, Inc. (“OLA”), an indirect U.S. subsidiary of ours, and Olympus Optical do Brasil, Ltda. (“OBL”), a Brazilian subsidiary of OLA, have been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act concerning their medical business, and that we have recognized an extraordinary loss in connection with such investigation for the first quarter of the fiscal year ending March 2016.Background of this matter. In October 2011, Olympus Corporation of the Americas (“OCA”), a U.S. subsidiary of ours and the parent company of OLA, self-reported to the DOJ potential issues concerning OLA’s and OBL’s medical businesses in 2011 or earlier. OCA is currently continuing discussions with the DOJ towards a resolution, but in view of the progress at the present time, we have recorded an extraordinary loss of approximately 2,421 million yen (approximately $19 million) as a provision.”last_img read more

Cycles Einstein Galileo – Geometry of Time

first_img Categories: Forecasts « Forecasting Turning Points QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; It has dawned on me studying Einstein’s General Relativity, that the two of you reached the same realization from different fields. Newton’s laws of gravity were turned upside down by Einstein who rejected Newton that there was a linear formation to space. Einstein came up with the fact that space was curved and that time and space were linked so that time was not the same throughout the universe. In reading the few chapters on the Geometry of Time you handed out at I think was the 2011 WEC, your entire process is also linking the curvature and time albeit from a different observation than Einstein.Would you elaborate?GDMANSWER: According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, massive objects warp the spacetime around them, and the effect a warp has on objects is what we call gravity. So, locally, spacetime is curved around every object with mass. However, what led Einstein to his discovery was the question of free fall. Before I had ever read Einstein, I was probably about 12 years old and I fell out of a tree and over a cliff falling probably a couple of hundred feet. I was lucky and it was Fall so at the base of the cliff was a mountain of leaves. The leaves broke my fall but my teeth nearly came through my bottom lip. The wind was knocked out of me and my nose was bleeding. I went to my friend’s house nearby and finally got my nose to stop bleeding. I kept tasting blood. I opened my mouth and saw the injury and only then did it start to hurt. It was a good 30 minutes. I went to the hospital and they stitched me up.Two things dawned on me that day. First, I asked why did my mouth not hurt until I saw I was injured? Secondly, when I was falling, I did not feel like a dead weight, but I felt like I was flying – weightless.Because of that incident, I came to realize that there was some truth to the saying what you do not know, can’t hurt you. But it also gave me insight into what Einstein was talking about. In the middle of a free fall, you feel weightless as if gravity has canceled itself out. Actually, Aristotle first tried to reason that a heavy object will fall faster than a light object in a free fall. He was incorrect. Galileo was the first to actually get it right. He realized that a falling body picked up speed at a constant rate. Galileo also made the observation that in a vacuum, all bodies fall with the same acceleration. That was a truly astonishing idea. That experiment was carried out on the moon with a hammer and a feather. They both fell to the ground at the same time.Yes, these things influenced me in seeing what I called the Geometry of Time in how and why do trends unfold and what are their durations? Was there a constant force at work, or were there patterns of time within time? This is an extremely complex subject. Far too much for a blog post. I will publish that work in 2020.last_img read more

AG Ferguson Suing Alleged Fake CharitiesCrescent Mountain Fire and Gilbert Fire Prompting

first_imgFrom a press release –Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit to shut down six fake nonprofit entities posing as well-known, international organizations created by Ian Richard Hosang, a former stockbroker who has ties to the mafia. The lawsuit alleges that Hosang could be using the nonprofits to cover up illegal activity.Hosang created six nonprofit entities in Washington: American Cancer Society of Seattle, American Cancer Society of Washington, American Red Cross of Seattle, American Red Cross of Washington, United Way of Seattle and United Way of Washington. None of these nonprofits are related to the legitimate, charitable organizations with the same or similar names.Ferguson’s investigators appear to have uncovered the sham nonprofits before any Washingtonians donated to the organizations. If you donated to any of Hosang’s organizations, please contact the Attorney General’s Office here.“I’m deeply concerned that a convicted money launderer created these sham nonprofits using the names of legitimate, internationally recognized organizations,” said Ferguson. “If you donated to any of these nonprofits, please contact my office.”The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, alleges that Hosang violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Nonprofit Corporations Act when he incorporated the fraudulent nonprofits.Nonprofit corporations operating in Washington must have a legitimate address along with records of finances and associates and must provide the benefits, service or education as stated in their purpose or mission statement. Hosang’s organizations failed all of these requirements, violating the Nonprofit Corporations Act.Hosang registered the organizations as nonprofits, but did not register any of the six as charities with the Washington State Secretary of State.Though each of the nonprofits listed an address in Washington, neither the nonprofits, nor Hosang or any other associate, reside in the state. Each organization listed its address as a UPS Store in Seattle, but Hosang instructed the store to forward any mail received at this address to a P.O. Box in Brooklyn, New York.The “nonprofits” also did not perform any activities listed in their mission statements or provide any money or assistance to the beneficiaries they claimed to help. Additionally, Hosang fraudulently named his organizations after legitimate charities, even though he and his associates had no affiliation with them.In November 2016, Hosang created the first of the six organizations – the American Cancer Society of Washington. Less than two years later, he created the remaining five over a span of two days in February 2018.The Attorney General’s investigators did not find evidence that the organizations solicited donations. However, investigators discovered that Hosang received at least one check made out to The American Cancer Society of Washington. Ferguson alleges that Hosang used the nonprofits to obscure financial transactions.In addition to his Washington organizations, Hosang created entities with variations of the same names in eight other states across the nation.Hosang previously spent 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to money laundering and conspiracy charges arising from his ties to the infamous Gambino crime family in New York.Ferguson asks the court to dissolve the organizations and prevent Hosang from operating any of the six nonprofit organizations or any new nonprofits in a similar manner. The office also requests that the court distribute any assets held by the organizations to legitimate nonprofit organizations that carry out the work that Hosang’s nonprofits purported to do.Assistant Attorney General Joshua Studor of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit is lead attorney in the case.Donate smart Scammers can use charities to prey on generosity. Do plenty of research before donating money. To make sure a charity is legitimate:Ask for detailed information about the organization, including an address, phone number and nameAsk the organization what percentage of donations benefit the actual causeCheck if the charity is registered with the Washington Secretary of StateVisit ftc.gov/charities for more information on how to avoid charity scams.Consumers who donated to any of these nonprofits, or who have issues with any charity or business, should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at https://www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.last_img read more

Artificial intelligence algorithms appear to be better at detecting skin cancer

first_imgMay 29 2018Researchers have shown for the first time that a form of artificial intelligence or machine learning known as a deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) is better than experienced dermatologists at detecting skin cancer.In a study published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology today (Tuesday), researchers in Germany, the USA and France trained a CNN to identify skin cancer by showing it more than 100,000 images of malignant melanomas (the most lethal form of skin cancer), as well as benign moles (or nevi). They compared its performance with that of 58 international dermatologists and found that the CNN missed fewer melanomas and misdiagnosed benign moles less often as malignant than the group of dermatologists.A CNN is an artificial neural network inspired by the biological processes at work when nerve cells (neurons) in the brain are connected to each other and respond to what the eye sees. The CNN is capable of learning fast from images that it “sees” and teaching itself from what it has learned to improve its performance (a process known as machine learning).The first author of the study, Professor Holger Haenssle, senior managing physician at the Department of Dermatology, University of Heidelberg, Germany, explained: “The CNN works like the brain of a child. To train it, we showed the CNN more than 100,000 images of malignant and benign skin cancers and moles and indicated the diagnosis for each image. Only dermoscopic images were used, that is lesions that were imaged at a 10-fold magnification. With each training image, the CNN improved its ability to differentiate between benign and malignant lesions.”After finishing the training, we created two test sets of images from the Heidelberg library that had never been used for training and therefore were unknown to the CNN. One set of 300 images was built to solely test the performance of the CNN. Before doing so, 100 of the most difficult lesions were selected to test real dermatologists in comparison to the results of the CNN.”Dermatologists from around the world were invited to take part, and 58 from 17 countries around the world agreed. Of these, 17 (29%) indicated they had less than two years’ experience in dermoscopy, 11 (19%) said they were skilled with between two to five years’ experience, and 30 (52%) were expert with more than five years’ experience.The dermatologists were asked to first make a diagnosis of malignant melanoma or benign mole just from the dermoscopic images (level I) and make a decision about how to manage the condition (surgery, short-term follow-up, or no action needed). Then, four weeks later they were given clinical information about the patient (including age, sex and position of the lesion) and close-up images of the same 100 cases (level II) and asked for diagnoses and management decisions again.In level I, the dermatologists accurately detected an average of 86.6% of melanomas, and correctly identified an average of 71.3% of lesions that were not malignant. However, when the CNN was tuned to the same level as the physicians to correctly identify benign moles (71.3%), the CNN detected 95% of melanomas. At level II, the dermatologists improved their performance, accurately diagnosing 88.9% of malignant melanomas and 75.7% that were not cancer.”The CNN missed fewer melanomas, meaning it had a higher sensitivity than the dermatologists, and it misdiagnosed fewer benign moles as malignant melanoma, which means it had a higher specificity; this would result in less unnecessary surgery,” said Professor Haenssle.”When dermatologists received more clinical information and images at level II, their diagnostic performance improved. However, the CNN, which was still working solely from the dermoscopic images with no additional clinical information, continued to out-perform the physicians’ diagnostic abilities.”Related StoriesResearchers use AI to develop early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis systemLiving with advanced breast cancerNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerThe expert dermatologists performed better at level I than the less experienced dermatologists and were better at detecting malignant melanomas. However, their average ability to make the correct diagnosis was still worse than the CNN at both levels.”These findings show that deep learning convolutional neural networks are capable of out-performing dermatologists, including extensively trained experts, in the task of detecting melanomas,” he said.The incidence of malignant melanoma is increasing, with an estimated 232,000 new cases worldwide and around 55,500 deaths from the disease each year. It can be cured if detected early, but many cases are only diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat.Professor Haenssle said: “I have been involved in research projects that aim at improving the early detection of melanoma in its curable stages for almost 20 years. My group and I are focusing on non-invasive technologies that may help physicians not to miss melanomas, for instance, while performing skin cancer screenings. When I came across recent reports on deep-learning algorithms that outperform human experts in specific tasks, I immediately knew that we had to explore these artificial intelligence algorithms for diagnosing melanoma.”The researchers do not envisage that the CNN would take over from dermatologists in diagnosing skin cancers, but that it could be used as an additional aid.”This CNN may serve physicians involved in skin cancer screening as an aid in their decision whether to biopsy a lesion or not. Most dermatologists already use digital dermoscopy systems to image and store lesions for documentation and follow-up. The CNN can then easily and rapidly evaluate the stored image for an ‘expert opinion’ on the probability of melanoma. We are currently planning prospective studies to assess the real-life impact of the CNN for physicians and patients.”The study has some limitations, which include the fact that the dermatologists were in an artificial setting where they knew they were not making “life or death” decisions; the test sets did not include the full range of skin lesions; there were fewer validated images from non-Caucasian skin types and genetic backgrounds; and the fact that doctors may not always follow the recommendation of a CNN they don’t trust.In an accompanying editorial Dr Victoria Mar (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia) and Professor H. Peter Soyer (The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) write: “Currently, diagnostic accuracy for melanoma is dependent on the experience and training of the treating doctor. ….. Haenssle et al…have shown that a computer algorithm using convolutional neural networks outperformed the majority of 58 dermatologists tested …..This shows that artificial intelligence (AI) promises a more standardized level of diagnostic accuracy, such that all people, regardless of where they live or which doctor they see, will be able to access reliable diagnostic assessment.”They highlight a number of issues that would need to be addressed before AI could become standard in clinics, including the difficulty of imaging some melanomas on sites such as the fingers, toes and scalp, and how to train AI sufficiently to recognize atypical melanomas and ones that patients are unaware of.They conclude: “Currently, there is no substitute for a thorough clinical examination. However, 2D and 3D total body photography is able to capture about 90 to 95% of the skin surface and given exponential development of imaging technology we envisage that sooner than later, automated diagnosis will change the diagnostic paradigm in dermatology. Still, there is much more work to be done to implement this exciting technology safely into routine clinical care.”Source: http://www.esmo.org/last_img read more

Novel model to address postdisaster behavioral health issues may also help other

first_imgJun 25 2018Faculty in LSU Health New Orleans schools of Medicine and Public Health and colleagues report that a collaborative effort to build capacity to address behavioral health and promote community resilience after the 2016 Great Flood in Baton Rouge, LA successfully expanded local behavioral health services delivery capacity and that the model may be useful to other disaster-struck communities. The Case Study on the project was published this month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, available online.Building upon previous disaster recovery work done by community and academic partners, the Community and Patient-Powered Research Network partnered with Louisiana-based disaster recovery experts, researchers, clinicians and community agencies to develop and implement a community resilience disaster recovery program, Resilient Baton Rouge. The first objective of the program was to improve the local ability to deliver care addressing post-disaster behavioral health issues beginning with depression in adults. RBR expanded the local mental health infrastructure by supporting the hiring of new staff to provide direct services and training new and existing providers on evidence-based models of care.RBR achieved the second objective of planning and coordinating service delivery by developing a training portfolio to support behavioral health practitioners, primary care providers, community health workers, other healthcare and social services providers, including support for medication management and clinical assessment, cognitive behavioral therapy, care/case management and health worker outreach, team-based and system support and component parts such as depression screeners and outcomes’ tracking, as well as patient and provider educational resources.Related Stories‘Climate grief’: Fears about the planet’s future weigh on Americans’ mental healthEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsHospitals’ decision to transfer kids with mental health emergencies is based on insurance typeTo meet the third aim of supporting and developing partnerships to promote community resilience-building activities, RBR created an advisory council composed of stakeholders from state and local government, a representative of the major hospitals, mental health providers and community leaders involved in behavioral health in greater Baton Rouge. They advised on strategies for project implementation, promoting resilience and encouraging collaboration and engagement of flood-impacted communities.The fourth objective was to create a national community resilience learning collaborative through which experts could share resources and best practices. RBR partnered with grassroots organizations and governmental agencies. It identified experts throughout the country to explore developing a National Resilience Learning Collaborative (NRLC) dedicated to sharing best practices for promoting disaster preparedness and community resilience and recovery relating to behavioral health.”The record-breaking 2017 Hurricane Season illustrates the need for coordinated, community-engaged disaster response,” noted Benjamin Springgate, MD, MPH, FACP, Associate Professor and Chief of the Section of Community and Population Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. “We hope that our lessons learned in Baton Rouge and the next steps such as our recent National Academies of Sciences-awarded Community Resilience Learning Collaborative and Research Network (C-LEARN) will help other communities plan for and respond to post-disaster behavioral health needs and recovery. Even now we have started working with additional partners in at-risk communities across the country such as Houston, Puerto Rico, and New York City to carry on this important work.” Source:http://www.lsuhsc.edu/newsroom/Collaborative%20Model%20for%20Post-Disaster%20Behavioral%20Health%20Recovery%20May%20Serve%20as%20Standard.htmllast_img read more

LUMICKS partners with AstraZeneca University of Cambridge to establish new Center of

first_img Source:https://lumicks.com/ Establishing the first ever Center of Excellence in Cambridge is an important step in introducing the power of dynamic single-molecule analysis to the biomedical and pharmaceutical research communities. Our tools enable scientists and pharmacologists to analyze the mechanistic details of processes underlying health and disease, with or without a small molecule drug lead being identified. This paves the way for the design of novel, more efficient strategies for highly-targeted drug discovery, and the selection of higher quality drug leads.” In addition to installing the C-Trap™ system, LUMICKS will provide on-site support to center participants, as well as an application scientist who will work with the participants to create standardized and robust single-molecule analysis workflows. Jun 28 2018The center will be based around LUMICKS’ C-Trap™ optical tweezers–fluorescence microscope, which for the first time enables real-time observation and probing of biomolecular interactions. The approach will be pioneered in several pharmacology and biology assays with the aim of accelerating the discovery of potential new drugs.LUMICKS, a world leader in dynamic single-molecule analysis, has partnered with AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge Biochemistry Department to form the ‘Center of Excellence for Dynamic Single-Molecule Analysis for Accelerated Drug Discovery and Biology’, the first of its kind worldwide. As part of the collaboration, a C-Trap™ optical tweezers–fluorescence microscope has been installed at the University of Cambridge and will be used by AstraZeneca, University of Cambridge research groups and LUMICKS, to provide new insights in biology and early-stage drug discovery research.LUMICKS’ technology allows for analysis of complex dynamic details related to the behavior and interaction of single molecules, allowing the center to investigate both the fundamental cause of diseases and potential for drug optimization. This collaboration aims to generate data that will validate the use of dynamic single-molecule technology for biomedical and pharmaceutical research and potential applications for accelerating drug discovery.Olivier Heyning, CEO of LUMICKS commented: C-Trap is a unique and powerful tool that could help us unravel precise molecular mechanisms of diseases and the mode of action of lead compounds. We are excited to be the first pharmaceutical company to use this technology and look forward to working with LUMICKS to validate the potential of single molecule analysis to enhance the drug discovery process.”center_img This is a great opportunity for researchers across the University to explore complex molecular interactions and gain access to novel dynamic single molecule information regarding the workings of important biomolecular processes, especially in relation to the origin of diseases.” Professor Luca Pellegrini, Group Leader at the University of Cambridge Biochemistry Department said: Dr. Geoffrey Holdgate, Principal Scientist, Discovery Sciences at AstraZeneca said:last_img read more

Geography may be destiny in endoflife care for cancer patients

first_img Less prepared to treat symptoms at the end of life. Less knowledgeable discussing end-of-life treatment options. Less comfortable discussing do-not-resuscitate status. Less comfortable discussing hospice care. Less likely to enroll in hospice themselves should they be terminally ill with cancer. More likely to suggest chemotherapy for patients who were unlikely to benefit from the treatment due to poor health status. The analysis also revealed that geographic areas with higher spending tended to have a greater concentration of physicians per capita, fewer primary care doctors and fewer hospices.While the study did not specifically explore the origins of various physician practices and beliefs, the researchers say that region-specific treatment patterns in end-of-life care likely emerged from shared informal observations during training or over the course of careers, with colleagues mirroring the practices of doctors around them.”Doctors learn from each other,” Keating said. “If I train in a place where I see all of my colleagues doing lots of things when someone is sick, I may be more likely to try to do lots of things when I have patients who are sick, whereas if my colleagues tell their patients, ‘The end is getting near, let’s call in hospice,’ I may be more likely to suggest hospice for my patients.Keating noted that there are already efforts underway to help physicians avoid wasteful and potentially harmful treatments, such as the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign to encourage physicians not to use chemotherapy to treat metastatic patients with poor performance status. The new study’s findings suggest that it is important to reinforce these efforts, Keating said. Source:https://hms.harvard.edu/news/end-life-cancer-care-geography-may-be-destinycenter_img Jul 10 2018When it comes to how much end-of-life care a patient with cancer receives, geography may, indeed, be destiny, according to new research led by Harvard Medical School that found striking differences in terminal care across different parts of the country.The findings, published in the July issue of Health Affairs, reveal that in some areas, people with end-stage lung and colorectal cancers received more intensive care and racked up twice as much in spending in the last month of life.Notably, the study found, the variations did not stem from patient beliefs and preferences. Instead, they were fueled by differences in physicians’ beliefs about end-of-life care and practice style, as well as by differences in the availability of health care services by region.The findings, the investigators said, are particularly concerning in light of the growing body of research that shows additional care at the end of life does not contribute to better outcomes in cancer.”Numerous studies have shown that greater spending and more care at the end of life do not contribute to better outcomes,” said study author Nancy Keating, professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Given that more care and greater spending also do not stem from patient preferences, much of these additional services can be considered wasteful or even harmful.”Physicians in areas with higher spending reported feeling less prepared and less knowledgeable in their care of patients with terminal cancer. They also reported being less likely to seek hospice care for themselves if they were to become terminally ill with cancer, the research showed. Patient beliefs did not contribute to spending differences, the researchers found.These findings, the researchers said, underscore the need for better physician education and training that boost doctors’ comfort level in both addressing end-of-life issues and delivering appropriate levels of care.”What we really need are interventions that help physicians feel more comfortable taking care of patients at the end of life, along with better training about the lack of efficacy and potential harms of some intensive treatments for patients with advanced cancer,” Keating said.Allocating resources strategically to ensure that enough services are available to meet patient needs without driving wasteful spending is also important, the researchers said.To conduct their analysis, the researchers used data from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS), combining information about social and demographic factors, patient clinical characteristics, and survey responses about patient and physician beliefs. The study sample included more than 1,100 patients, 65 years of age and older diagnosed with end-stage lung and colon cancer between 2003 and 2005 who died before 2013.Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskThe average amount spent on end-of-life care during a patient’s last month was slight more than $13,600. However, in some regions, it was more than $19,300, while it was just over $10,000 in other areas.Compared with physicians in areas with lower spending, physicians in higher spending regions reported being:last_img read more

Increase in Puerto Rico death toll not surprising says UM expert

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 29 2018Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria researchers are upping the death toll in Puerto Rico, saying it now stands at 2,975 from the original 64. Creators of a joint University of Michigan-Notre Dame Teach-out announced Monday by the two universities are not surprised by this number. Will Potter, U-M distinguished lecturer and senior academic innovation fellow, led one of two teams that interviewed more than 30 Puerto Ricans about life after Hurricane Maria. Among his interviews featured in this documentary was a physician who talked about bodies still unidentified in containers (about 9:00 on the video) Potter can be reached for expert comment. Contact: 202-340-8133, wpot@umich.edu”My career as an investigative journalist has been spent covering civil liberties and human rights abuses, so I have grown a thick skin when it comes to dark experiences. But what we saw in Puerto Rico truly shocked us. A local doctor who has spent his life helping his community drove me around the central medical district. He took us to a series of shipping container, which were marked ‘MASS DISASTER RELIEF’ on the sides. He said that inside of them are the bodies of more than 300 victims of Hurricane Maria. Neither the U.S. government nor local government have made any official statement about this, and in my interview confronting the head of FEMA, he would not even acknowledge the bodies in the containers were connected to the hurricane. Now, as the ‘official’ death toll continues to radically increase, it’s clear that the whole story needs to be exposed. The humanitarian crisis is much greater than people in power have ever acknowledged. We hope this documentary and Teach-Out from the University of Michigan will help show the hidden reality of what the people of Puerto Rico continue to experience.”Source: https://www.umich.edu/last_img read more

How the Brain Deletes Old Memories

Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Do you remember your first birthday? How about what you ate for breakfast weeks ago? For most people, such events slip through the sieve of memory, never to be retrieved. Now, the first study of its kind in mice suggests that the brain may clear away that old information in the process of forming new memories.For the most part, the brain stops producing new neurons—a process called neurogenesis—soon after birth. In humans, mice, and some other species, however, neurogenesis continues throughout life in a brain region that encodes memories about space and events, called the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. In adult humans, the dentate gyrus produces roughly 700 new brain cells each day.Studies in mice have shown that suppressing neurogenesis can impair a type of learning called pattern separation, which allows us to distinguish between two similar but slightly different circumstances. One example is remembering where you parked the car from 1 day to the next, explains René Hen, a neuroscientist at Columbia University who was not involved in the new study. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Although the precise role of neurogenesis in memory is still controversial, more than a decade of research has demonstrated that boosting neurogenesis with exercise and antidepressants such as Prozac can increase rodents’ ability to learn new information about places and events. A few years ago, however, neuroscientist Paul Frankland of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, noticed that some of the animals in his experiment actually did worse on certain memory tasks when their neuron birth rates had been ramped up. In particular, they performed poorly on tests that required them to retain details about past events.The result was “way too interesting to ignore,” Frankland says. Because neurogenesis surges in newborn mice and humans and then tapers to a slow trickle by adulthood, Frankland and colleagues wondered if that explosion of new neurons could help explain the widespread phenomenon of infantile amnesia—the inability of adults to remember events that occurred before they were 2 to 4 years old. Some theoretical models suggested that new neurons destabilize memories already stored in the hippocampus by degrading the information there, but the idea had never been explored in live animals.To test the hypothesis, Frankland and his team first compared the stability of memories in adult mice versus 17-day-old mice, which are equivalent to human babies less than a year old. They removed the rodents from their familiar, sawdust-lined enclosures and put them into a box with a metal floor that delivered brief foot shocks. After returning the mice to their cages, over the course of 6 weeks the researchers placed the rodents back in the box but did not repeat the shocks. More than a month later, the adult mice continued to freeze when placed in the environment where they’d had the painful experience. The younger mice, however, forgot the association within a day. The juveniles “can remember for 24 hours, but then they forget,” Frankland says.Next, the team looked at whether different rates of neurogenesis between adult and infant mice could explain the young rodents’ forgetfulness. Exercise can increase neurogenesis in mice by more than 50%, so the researchers gave a separate group of adult mice wheels to run in. (Left to their own devices, mice will run up to 5 kilometers a night.) They also treated separate groups of mice with drugs, such as Prozac, that boost new neuron birth. Increasing neurogenesis by as much as 100% returned the adult mice to an “infantlike” state of forgetfulness in the foot shock test and other similar memory tasks, Frankland and his colleagues report online today in Science.It is difficult to completely eliminate the birth of new neurons in infant mice, but by genetically engineering dividing neural stem cells to self-destruct the team was able to achieve about a 50% reduction of neurogenesis in the animals, Frankland says. With less neurogenesis, the young rodents acted more like adult mice in the experiment. They froze when first placed in the box for roughly a week, rather than just 1 day, after receiving the foot shocks.Psychologists have long considered the process of forgetting as key to a healthy mind, yet neuroscientists haven’t paid much attention to it in the past, Frankland says. “If you embrace the idea that forgetting is healthy,” then it makes sense that neurogenesis may contribute to the clearing out of old memories, he says. Although it’s pure speculation at this point, he says, it’s possible that one way that antidepressants help people with depression, a condition linked to reduced neurogenesis, “is to promote some sort of clearing or forgetting,” he says.”One has to be a bit cautious” about extrapolating the new findings to people because we don’t have a way to measure neurogenesis in the live human brain, Hen notes. Forgetting may also be a downside of adult neurogenesis because the new memories outcompete old memories, notes neuroscientist Jonas Frisén of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. “This is an exciting new insight.” Email read more

Fingerprints change over time but not enough to foil forensics

first_imgIn both TV crime dramas and real-life courtrooms, fingerprints are often the lynchpin connecting a criminal to a crime. Many studies have demonstrated that the loops, whorls, and arches on an individual’s “friction ridge skin” are unique enough to be admissible as evidence, but few have investigated whether they remain the same over time. It turns out that fingerprints do evolve, but only slightly: A statistical analysis published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that fingerprints change over time, but not enough to impact forensic analyses. The study followed 15,597 subjects, whose prints were taken at least five times over a minimum of 5 years. The results show that larger time intervals between printings reduced the odds of correctly matching a print to a finger in the database, but only by an operationally inconsequential amount. Further, the scenario in which an innocent defendant would be wrongfully convicted—where the machine finds a match even though there isn’t one—was even less likely, with a probability close to zero regardless of the time between printings. Overall, the best predictor of mistakes was the quality of the image. Poor images yielded more errors, leading the team to conclude that image quality plays a bigger role in explaining the variation than elapsed time.last_img read more

These birds use song to keep their mates from straying

first_imgAbout 90% of bird species live in monogamous pairs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fool around on the side. The females of most monogamous species breed with outside males at least occasionally. Male birds have evolved two main ways to combat such cuckoldry: They either aggressively drive away rival males, or they cement the pair bond by singing lovely duets with their partners. Which works better, making love or making war? Researchers working with the red-backed fairywren (Malurus melanocephalus), native to Australia, put the question to the test by conducting the experiment in the video above. The team mounted a taxidermically stuffed male fairywren on a branch (upper left) in a male-female pair’s territory and then observed what happened. In this case, the live male attacks its artificial rival once, but then spends most of the next minute duetting with its female partner (who is light gray and white). The researchers analyzed data from various trials involving up to 51 males, using parameters such as how long they delayed before attacking the artificial mount, how long before beginning a duet, and how many duets they sang with the females. These data were then correlated with genetic paternity tests of 186 offspring in the nests of the supposedly monogamous birds. Although the percentage of cuckoldry was high—47% of the offspring had been fathered by outside males—those males that quickly responded to the threat of a rival by repeatedly duetting with their partners were much more likely to be the fathers of the offspring in their nests, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. On the other hand, there was no correlation between how aggressive the males were to the artificial rival and the paternity rate, the researchers found.(Video credit: Daniel Baldassarre)last_img read more

Descartess brain had a bulging frontal cortex

first_img By Ian RandallMay. 5, 2017 , 11:00 AM Descartes’s brain had a bulging frontal cortex René Descartes began with doubt. “We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt. … I think, therefore I am,” the 17th century philosopher and scientist famously wrote. Now, modern scientists are trying to figure out what made the genius’s mind tick by reconstructing his brain. Scientists have long wondered whether the brains of geniuses (especially the shapes on their surfaces) could hold clues about their owners’ outsized intelligences. But most brains studied to date—including Albert Einstein’s—were actual brains. Descartes’s had unfortunately decomposed by the time scientists wanted to study it. So with techniques normally used for studying prehistoric humans, researchers created a 3D image of Descartes’s brain (above) by scanning the impression it left on the inside of his skull, which has been kept for almost 200 years now in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. For the most part, his brain was surprisingly normal—its overall dimensions fell within regular ranges, compared with 102 other modern humans. But one part stood out: an unusual bulge in the frontal cortex, in an area which previous studies have suggested may process the meaning of words. That’s not to say this oddity is necessarily indicative of genius, the scientists report online in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences. Even Descartes might agree: “It is not enough to have a good mind,” he wrote. “The main thing is to use it well.”last_img read more

TurkishAmerican NASA scientist sentenced to 75 years in prison

first_imgKubra Golge, holding one of her sons, has fought for the release of her husband, Serkan Golge, a U.S. citizen and NASA scientist held by Turkey on terrorism charges. He was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison yesterday. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Turkish-American NASA scientist sentenced to 7.5 years in prison Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Kristen McTighe Feb. 9, 2018 , 5:30 PM The New York Times/Redux center_img ISTANBUL, TURKEY—Serkan Golge, a Turkish-American research scientist at NASA in Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 7.5 years in a Turkish prison Thursday on terrorism charges. The verdict, which has been condemned by the U.S. government, has put his career on hold and left his family and friends reeling. “I feel like this cannot be real,” his wife Kubra Golge, who was inside the courtroom when her husband’s verdict was read, tells Science.At a press briefing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State said the United States is “deeply concerned” by Golge’s conviction, which came “without credible evidence.” The spokesperson said the U.S. government would continue to follow his case closely. A spokesperson for Turkey’s foreign ministry dismissed the criticism in a statement posted to its website and said the court’s decision must be respected.Golge, a dual citizen who had been studying the effects of radiation on astronauts, was swept up in a crackdown that followed Turkey’s 2016 failed military coup. While visiting family in southern Turkey weeks after the putsch attempt, police showed up to his parents’ home and arrested him in front of his wife and children. According to Golge’s wife, a distant relative who was angered over an inheritance dispute told police Golge was a spy and supporter of Fethullah Gülen, the Islamic cleric who Turkey accuses of masterminding the coup. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Golge was charged with membership of a terrorist organization, which he denied. Prosecutors presented a $1 bill found in Golge’s home as evidence; they also said he held an account at a bank owned by Gülen supporters and attended a Gülen-linked university. “It seemed [the court] had already decided” before the case began, says Kubra Golge, who recently sold the couple’s home in Houston and has been living with her family in southern Turkey to be near the prison where her husband has been held. “One of the judges took a nap during the trial,” she says.Golge will appeal, his wife says, but he faces a lengthy process in Turkey’s appeals court, where terrorism cases like his take on average 6 months to 1 year. If convicted again, he will be able to take his case to Turkey’s Supreme Court and later to the European Court of Human Rights.Thursday’s verdict came amid increasingly tense Turkish-American relations. In mid-January, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced a new U.S. strategy in Syria that involved an open-ended presence of troops in the country and continued partnership with Syrian-Kurdish rebels. Turkey considers the rebels terrorists and a security threat along its southern border. Following Tillerson’s announcement, Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, launched a military operation to attack Washington, D.C.’s Syrian allies.Turkey has also been angered by the failure of the United States to extradite Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested U.S. citizens will not be released unless the cleric is handed over to Turkey; the United States has said the decision to extradite Gülen must be made by U.S. courts. Golge’s supporters believe he may be used as a bargaining chip.Scores of Turkish scientists and academics are in prison or have lost their job in the postcoup crackdown and observers say a once thriving scientific community is now in danger.last_img read more

Watch a ballooning spider take flight

first_img Spiders spin their silk for far more than just webs: guy lines, egg sacs, and even cocoons to hold their still-living prey. But another piece of handiwork—sheetlike sails that help them catch the breeze—has gotten little scholarly attention, even after the practice of “ballooning” was first documented in the 1600s.To find out how ballooning spiders lift off, Moonsung Cho and colleagues from the Technical University of Berlin put 14 large crab spiders (Xysticus) on a mushroom-shaped platform exposed to the natural breeze, serendipitously in the same Berlin park where aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal once tested heavier-than-air gliders. In a separate experiment, the researchers placed the spiders in a wind tunnel, where they could control wind speed and temperature.The spiders did not release their silk balloons at random, the team found. Instead, they raised one or two hairy legs aloft, apparently testing the wind for 5 to 8 seconds. On cold and windy days, the spiders huddled on the side of the platform and most did not launch. But if conditions were right—a warm, gentle breeze no stronger than 3 meters per second—the spiders raised their abdomens and released up to 60 silk threads, forming a triangular sheet that bore them skyward, the researchers report on the online preprint server bioRxiv. The study is the first to show that spiders, like any good aviator, carefully evaluate wind conditions before takeoff. By Emily UnderwoodApr. 2, 2018 , 4:15 PM Watch a ‘ballooning’ spider take flightlast_img read more

Reorganization sparks turmoil at Copenhagens research powerhouse museum

first_img An iron meteorite displayed in the courtyard of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen helped inspire the discovery of a giant crater in Greenland. Over the past decade, the 40 researchers at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen have published more than 100 papers in Nature and Science, putting it among the world’s top research museums. But budget pressures are forcing a reorganization that will split museum research from curation and outreach. The museum’s scientists are dismayed, and several of the most prominent group leaders say they may leave.Previously, the museum was its own department within the University of Copenhagen. But last month, the university announced that, as of 1 January 2019, the museum will be downsized, becoming a unit within the biology department. Roughly half of the 40 researchers will remain part of that unit; they will give up some of their research to focus on curation and outreach. The other half will become full faculty within the biology department—including the geologists and astrophysicists. These scientists will lose their affiliation with the museum and replace their curatorial roles with increased teaching duties.Divorcing the scientists’ dual roles will curtail the fruitful ways that curation pollinates research, and vice versa, says Carsten Rahbek, who heads the museum’s Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate and who is slated to become a biology professor. (The center will move with him.) “The curation is driven by the research,” he says. “It’s not like a library where you go borrow a book and then go do cutting-edge research. If you don’t have a say in how [the collection] develops, in 2 or 3 years you won’t be able to use it anymore.” Reorganization sparks turmoil at Copenhagen’s research powerhouse museum Researchers at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen have made major discoveries about human migrations and the impacts of climate change. ISTOCK.COM/carstenbrandt The museum grew out of a 2001 merger of the university’s Botanical Garden, Botanical Museum and Library, Geological Museum, and Zoological Museum. The vision, says Eske Willerslev, who studies ancient DNA and heads the Centre for GeoGenetics at the museum, was to “create a prominent place where citizens could [find] the best researchers and look over their shoulders.” Research collaborations have since led to breakthrough discoveries about human migrations and the effects of climate change on biodiversity. Just last month, a team led by a museum glaciologist announced in Science Advances the discovery of a giant impact crater under Greenland’s ice sheet. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe But the museum is under financial pressure. Although it will begin construction next year on a 950 million Danish kroner ($144 million) building to house state-of-the-art exhibits, the museum has run budget deficits in recent years. Last week, it laid off 17 people, including some research staff. Moving some of the researchers out of the museum unit and into the biology department—and boosting their teaching loads—will help shore up finances, says Museum Director Peter Kjærgaard.Kjærgaard adds that focusing the museum’s resources on curation and outreach will allow it to make the collections more widely available for researchers, the public, even companies and nonprofits. John Renner Hansen, dean of the Faculty of Science at the university, says researchers who want to maintain their museum affiliation will have to do significant curation and outreach work. But he argues that the changes shouldn’t affect current collaborations. Labs and offices won’t move at all. “There are no physical changes, just a change of organization,” he says.But the formal separation of the researchers from the museum is important, even if it is not physical, says Minik Rosing, a geochemist at the museum, who is also slated to become a professor in the biology department. “It’s a redefinition of what a museum is, and what it means,” he says. He, Rahbek, and Willerslev all say they are considering leaving the university if the plans go forward. “We would prefer to stay and support the museum, but if its mission changes so completely, we will have to go elsewhere,” Rosing says.The separation is not only bad for the researchers; public outreach will also suffer, predicts Évelyne Heyer, who heads the department of eco-anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. “It’s not enough to present the collections,” she says. “You have to teach the people what the collection can do.” By Gretchen VogelDec. 3, 2018 , 3:00 AM Kit Leong/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM last_img read more

EXCLUSIVE Controversial experiments that could make bird flu more risky poised to

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Yoshihiro Kawaoka (left) and Ron Fouchier (right) in 2012, after their work with H5N1 bird flu virus sparked a global controversy over research that can potentially make pathogens more dangerous to humans. EXCLUSIVE: Controversial experiments that could make bird flu more risky poised to resume Email A worker at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory harvests avian flu viruses for sharing with other laboratories in 2013. But concerns reignited after more papers and a series of accidents at federal biocontainment labs. In October 2014, U.S. officials announced an unprecedented “pause” on funding for 18 GOF studies involving influenza or the Middle East respiratory syndrome or severe acute respiratory syndrome viruses. (About half were later allowed to continue because the work didn’t fit the definition or was deemed essential to public health.)There followed two National Academy of Sciences workshops, recommendations from a federal advisory board, and a new U.S. policy for evaluating proposed studies involving “enhanced potential pandemic pathogens” (known as ePPPs). In December 2017, NIH lifted the funding pause and invited new GOF proposals that would be reviewed by a committee with wide-ranging expertise drawn from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C., and other federal agencies.Now, the HHS committee has approved the same type of work in the Kawaoka and Fouchier labs that set off the furor 8 years ago. Last summer, the committee reviewed the projects and made recommendations about risk-benefit analyses, safety measures to avoid exposures, and communications plans, an HHS spokesperson says.After the investigators revised their plans, the HHS committee recommended that they proceed. Kawaoka learned from NIH on 10 January that his grant has been funded. Fouchier expects the agency may hold off on making a funding decision until after a routine U.S. inspection of his lab in March.Kawaoka’s grant is the same one on H5N1 that was paused in 2014. It includes identifying mutations in H5N1 that allow it to be transmitted by respiratory droplets in ferrets. He shared a list of reporting requirements that appear to reflect the new HHS review criteria. For example, he must immediately notify NIAID if he identifies an H5N1 strain that is both able to spread via respiratory droplets in ferrets and is highly pathogenic, or if he develops an EPPP that is resistant to antiviral drugs. Under the HHS framework, his grant now specifies reporting timelines and who he must notify at the NIAID and his university.Fouchier’s proposed projects are part of a contract led by virologists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City (most of Project 5, Aim 3.1, and Project 6 in this letter). They include identifying molecular changes that make flu viruses more virulent and mutations that emerge when H5N1 is passaged through ferrets. The HHS panel did not ask that any proposed experiments be removed or modified. Suggestions included clarifying how his team will monitor workers for possible exposures and justifying the strains they plan to work with, which include H7N9 viruses, Fouchier says. HHS cannot make the panel’s reviews public because they contain proprietary and grant competition information, says the spokesperson. But critics say that isn’t acceptable. “Details regarding the decision to approve and fund this work should be made transparent,” says Thomas Inglesby, director of Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. The lack of openness “is disturbing. And indefensible,” says microbiologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. The critics say the HHS panel should at least publicly explain why it thought the same questions could not be answered using safer alternative methods.One researcher who has sympathized with both sides in the debate finds the safety conditions imposed on Kawaoka reassuring. “That list… makes a lot of sense,” says virologist Michael Imperiale of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “At this point I’m willing to trust the system.”Click here and here to read more of our reporting on the H5N1 controversy.*Clarification, 9 February, 10:30 a.m.: This story has been updated to clarify that one goal of the controversial experiments is to make the H5N1 virus transmissible in mammals (often ferrets), not humans.*Update, 11 February, 2:46 p.m.: This story has been updated with reaction from a number of scientists, and a clarification of the studies proposed by Fouchier. One of the investigators leading the studies, however, says he’s happy he can resume his experiments. “We are glad the United States government weighed the risks and benefits … and developed new oversight mechanisms. We know that it does carry risks. We also believe it is important work to protect human health,” says Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the University of Tokyo. The other group that got the green light is led by Ron Fouchier at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.In 2011, Fouchier and Kawaoka alarmed the world by revealing they had separately modified the deadly avian H5N1 influenza virus so that it spread between ferrets. Advocates of such gain of function (GOF) studies say they can help public health experts better understand how viruses might spread and plan for pandemics. But by enabling the bird virus to more easily spread among mammals, the experiments also raised fears that the pathogen could jump to humans. And critics of the work worried that such a souped-up virus could spark a pandemic if it escaped from a lab or was intentionally released by a bioterrorist. After extensive discussion about whether the two studies should even be published (they ultimately were) and a voluntary moratorium by the two labs, the experiments resumed in 2013 under new U.S. oversight rules. Martin Enserink/Science James Gathany/CDC Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Jocelyn KaiserFeb. 8, 2019 , 8:45 PM Controversial lab studies that modify bird flu viruses in ways that could make them more risky to humans will soon resume after being on hold for more than 4 years. ScienceInsider has learned that last year, a U.S. government review panel quietly approved experiments proposed by two labs that were previously considered so dangerous that federal officials had imposed an unusual top-down moratorium on such research.One of the projects has already received funding from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, and will start in a few weeks; the other is awaiting funding.The outcome may not satisfy scientists who believe certain studies that aim to make pathogens more potent or more likely to spread in mammals are so risky they should be limited or even banned. Some are upset because the government’s review will not be made public. “After a deliberative process that cost $1 million for [a consultant’s] external study and consumed countless weeks and months of time for many scientists, we are now being asked to trust a completely opaque process where the outcome is to permit the continuation of dangerous experiments,“ says Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch. last_img read more

NASAs next Mars rover will land in Jezero crater which once hosted

first_img NASA’s next Mars rover will land in Jezero crater, which once hosted a lake and a river delta NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/BROWN UNIVERSITY A happy medium Jezero and Northeast Syrtis, two attractive landing sites for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, are close to each other. A new landing site, Midway, might allow the rover to study rocks from both terrains. Update: NASA today announced the destination for its next Mars rover, due for launch in 2020. The agency said it would send the rover to the 50-kilometer-wide Jezero crater, which billions of years ago harbored a lake that half filled the 500-meter-deep basin. The crater also contains within its rim a fossilized river delta, the sediments from a river that spilled into the crater—a promising place to search for evidence of past life. “Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life,”  Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington, D.C., said in a press conference.Mars scientists also wanted to visit a nearby site, called Northeast Syrtis, which contains rocks formed in the presence of mineral springs. So NASA dangled the possibility of a two-for-one special—that after visiting Jezero, the rover might climb out of the crater and travel 25 kilometers to Midway, a site that contains many of the same rocks as Northeast Syrtis. Zurbuchen said the possibility of an extended mission to Midway is not ruled out, but he wants the team to focus on Jezero crater for now. “Come the time, we want to talk about it,” he said. “But at this moment we’re focusing on the prime mission.”The 2020 rover will be tasked with gathering and caching rock and soil samples for eventual return to Earth by subsequent missions. At a workshop attended by hundreds of Mars scientists a month ago, Jezero was one of the leading landing sites. Here is our previous story from 10 October: Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) North pole Spirit rover Jezero crater holds a fossil river delta, which may have concentrated and preserved signs of life. OlympusMons Landing sites under consideration Email Equator North pole N30⁰ Columbia Hillscenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Midway Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Curiosity rover Northeast Syrtis Sometimes, a problem really can be solved by meeting halfway. For the past 4 years, planetary scientists have wrestled over where to send NASA’s next Mars rover, a $2.5 billion machine to be launched in 2020 that will collect rock samples for eventual return to Earth. Next week, nearly 200 Mars scientists will gather for a final landing site workshop in Glendale, California, where they will debate the merits of the three candidate sites that rose to the top of previous discussions. Two, Jezero and Northeast Syrtis, hold evidence of a fossilized river delta and mineral springs, both promising environments for ancient life. Scientists yearn to visit both, but they are 37 kilometers apart—much farther than any martian rover has traveled except Opportunity.Now, the Mars 2020 science team is injecting a compromise site, called Midway, into the mix. John Grant, a planetary scientist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., who co-leads the landing site workshops, says the team wanted to know whether a rover might be able to study the terrains found at Jezero and Northeast Syrtis by landing somewhere in the middle.So far, the answer appears to be yes. The Mars 2020 rover borrows much from the design of the Curiosity rover that has been exploring another Mars site for 6 years. But it includes advances such as a belly-mounted camera that will help it avoid landing hazards during its harrowing descent to the surface. This capability allowed scientists to consider Midway, just 25 kilometers from Jezero and close enough to drive there. At the same time, Midway’s rocks resemble those of Northeast Syrtis, says Bethany Ehlmann, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena and member of the Mars 2020 science team.Midway and Northeast Syrtis both hail from a time, some 4 billion years ago, when Mars was warmer and wetter. Surveys from orbit suggest the sites harbor rocks that formed underground in the presence of water and iron, a potential food for microbes. The rocks, exposed on the flanks of mesas, include a layer of carbonate deposits that many scientists believe were formed by underground mineral springs. Sheltered from a harsh surface environment, these springs would have been hospitable to life, Ehlmann says. “We should go where the action was.”Nearby Jezero crater has its own allure, etched on the surface: a fossilized river delta. Nearly 4 billion years ago, water spilled into the crater, creating the delta. “It’s right there,” says Ray Arvidson, a planetary geologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. “It’s beautiful.” Geologists know deltas concentrate and preserve the remnants of life; they can see that on Earth in offshore deposits of oil—itself preserved organic matter—fed by deltas like the Mississippi’s. New work to be presented at the workshop by Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, will show that Jezero crater has a bathtub ring of carbonate—a strong sign that it once contained a lake. On Earth, such layers are often home to stromatolites, cauliflowerlike minerals created by ancient microbial life.Right now, the Mars 2020 team favors landing at Jezero and driving uphill to Midway, says Matt Golombek, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, and the other workshop co-leader. For the past year, the team has scoured potential routes between the two. “We haven’t identified any deal-breakers,” says Ken Farley, the mission’s project scientist and a Caltech geologist. The rover’s advanced autonomous driving should allow it to cover more ground than Curiosity, which often stops to plan routes. Even so, the path from Jezero to Midway would take nearly 2 years, Farley says. That means the rover could explore only one site during its primary 2-year mission, when it must drill and store 20 rock cores, to be picked up by future sample return missions. Exploration of the second site would have to come during an extended mission, after the rover’s warranty expires. “The further away you land from your gold mine, the higher the risk you might not get there,” Arvidson says. Elysium Mons By Paul VoosenNov. 19, 2018 , 12:35 PM Elysium Mons Jezero (GRAPHIC) A. CUADRA/SCIENCE; (DATA) NASA S30⁰ Left out of those plans is the last leading candidate site: Columbia Hills. “I have a sense there’s a hill to climb,” says the site’s chief advocate, Steven Ruff, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe. “I’ll go in with a lot of questions of whether they can make that drive between Midway and Jezero.” Columbia Hills sits within the large Gusev crater that the Spirit rover explored from 2004 to 2010. Driving backward while dragging a bad front wheel, Spirit gouged a trench that revealed opaline silica, a mineral that on Earth is a sure sign of life-supporting hot springs. Ruff has even proposed that the martian silica deposits are stromatolites.The engineers building Mars 2020 will be glad to settle on a destination, says Matt Wallace, the rover’s deputy project manager at JPL. The lab’s clean room is starting to fill up. The “sky crane” that will lower the rover to the surface is done. The spacecraft that will shepherd the rover to Mars is nearly complete—it just needs a heat shield, which is being rebuilt after testing revealed a crack. Several weeks ago, the chassis of the rover arrived and is now being filled with computers, batteries, and other electronics. Assembly of its complex drilling and sample storage system is underway, with other scientific instruments due by the end of February. “This is the mad scramble,” Farley adds. “It is full bore get it done, get it done now.”At the workshop’s end, scientists will vote on the candidates, followed by a closed-door meeting of the rover team to make a final choice. Engineers have deemed the sites safe for landing, Golombek adds, so it will come down to the science. The team’s recommendation won’t be the final word—the choice is ultimately up to NASA science chief Thomas Zurbuchen. But expect a decision within the next few months, if not sooner.*Correction, 12 October, 11:20 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that no rover has traveled more than 37 kilometers or visited 4-billion-year-old martian terrain. The Opportunity rover has done both.last_img read more