Scientists Create Artificial Womb That Could Help Prematurely Born Babies

An illustration of a fetal lamb inside the “artificial womb” device, which mimics the conditions inside a pregnant animal.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Scientists have created an “artificial womb” in the hopes of someday using the device to save babies born extremely prematurely.

So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.

“We’ve been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model,” says Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” Flake says.

Flake says the group hopes to test the device on very premature human babies within three to five years.

“What we tried to do is develop a system that mimics the environment of the womb as closely as possible,” Flake says. “It’s basically an artificial womb.”

Inside an artificial womb

The device consists of a clear plastic bag filled with synthetic amniotic fluid. A machine outside the bag is attached to the umbilical cord to function like a placenta, providing nutrition and oxygen to the blood and removing carbon dioxide.

“The whole idea is to support normal development; to re-create everything that the mother does in every way that we can to support normal fetal development and maturation,” Flake says.

Other researchers praised the advance, saying it could help thousands of babies born very prematurely each year, if tests in humans were to prove successful.

Jay Greenspan, a pediatrician at Thomas Jefferson University, called the device a “technological miracle” that marks “a huge step to try to do something that we’ve been trying to do for many years.”

The device could also help scientists learn more about normal fetal development, says Thomas Shaffer a professor of physiology and pediatrics at Temple University.

Enlarge this image

Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

/Ed Cunicelli/The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

“I think this is a major breakthrough,” Shaffer says.

The device in the fetal lamb experiment is kept in a dark, warm room where researchers can play the sounds of the mother’s heart for the lamb fetus and monitor the fetus with ultrasounds.

Previous research has shown that lamb fetuses are good models for human fetal development.

“If you can just use this device as a bridge for the fetus then you can have a dramatic impact on the outcomes of extremely premature infants,” Flake says. “This would be a huge deal.”

But others say the device raises ethical issues, including many questions about whether it would ever be acceptable to test it on humans.

“There are all kinds of possibilities for stress and pain with not, at the beginning, a whole lot of likelihood for success,” says Dena Davis, a bioethicist at Lehigh University.

Flake says ethical concerns need to be balanced against the risk of death and severe disabilities babies often suffer when they are born very prematurely. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. A human device would be designed for those born 23 or 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Only about half of such babies survive and, of those that do, about 90 percent suffer severe complications, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness and deafness, Flake says.

About 30,000 babies are born earlier than 26 weeks into pregnancy each year in the United States, according to the researchers.

Potential ethical concerns

Davis worries that the device is not necessarily a good solution for human fetuses.

“If it’s a difference between a baby dying rather peacefully and a baby dying under conditions of great stress and discomfort then, no, I don’t think it’s better,” Davis says.

“If it’s a question of a baby dying versus a baby being born who then needs to live its entire life in an institution, then I don’t think that’s better. Some parents might think that’s better, but many would not,” she says.

And even if it works, Davis also worries about whether this could blur the line between a fetus and a baby.

“Up to now, we’ve been either born or not born. This would be halfway born, or something like that. Think about that in terms of our abortion politics,” she says.

Some worry that others could take this technology further. Other scientists are already keeping embryos alive in their labs longer then ever before, and trying to create human sperm, eggs and even embryo-like entities out of stem cells. One group recently created an artificial version of the female reproductive system in the lab.

“I could imagine a time, you know sort of [a] ‘Brave New World,’ where we’re growing embryos from the beginning to the end outside of our bodies. It would be a very Gattaca-like world,” says Davis, referring to the 1997 science-fiction film.

There’s also a danger such devices might be used coercively. States could theoretically require women getting abortions to put their fetuses into artificial wombs, says Scott Gelfand, a bioethicist at Oklahoma State University.

Employers could also require female employees to use artificial wombs to avoid maternity leave, he says. Insurers could require use of the device to avoid costly complicated pregnancies and deliveries.

“The ethical implications are just so far-reaching,” Gelfand says.

Barbara Katz Rothman, a sociologist at the City University of New York, says more should be done to prevent premature births. She worries about the technological transformation of pregnancy.

“The problem is a baby raised in a machine is denied a human connection,” Rothman says. “I think that’s a scary, tragic thing.”

Flake says his team has no interest in trying to gestate a fetus any earlier than about 23 weeks into pregnancy.

“I want to make this very clear: We have no intention and we’ve never had any intention with this technology of extending the limits of viability further back,” Flake says. “I think when you do that you open a whole new can of worms.

Flake doubts anything like that would ever be possible.

“That’s a pipe dream at this point,” Flake says.

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Scientists Find That Babies Who Are Given DTP Vaccine Are up to 10 Times More Likely to Die

http://www.renegadetribune.com/scientists-find-babies-given-dtp-vaccine-10-times-likely-die/

 

Research conducted by a team of Scandinavian scientists came to a startling conclusion regarding the DTP vaccine, which is supposed to protect children from diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. Though they found that the vaccine can prevent those diseases, it does so at a terrible cost.

The research, which was partly funded by the Danish government, derived its data from a vaccination campaign conducted in the African nation of Guinea Bissau during the 1980’s. Initially, the campaign offered parents the opportunity to have their babies weighed every 3 months, and in 1981 they started giving out DTP vaccines during these sessions. Because the babies were only allowed to be vaccinated at a certain age, some were not vaccinated, which created the perfect control group.

It turns out that the babies who were vaccinated had a mortality rate that was on average, five times higher than the unvaccinated infants. The vaccinated girls were 9.98 times more likely to die after being vaccinated, and the boys were 3.93 time more likely to die.

These numbers were derived from kids who also had a polio vaccine. Strangely, they had a much lower mortality rate. The kids who only received the DTP vaccine had on average, a mortality rate that was 10 times higher than the control group. The researchers believe that the vaccine must have stifled the immune systems of these children, opening them up to mutliple infections.

The researchers wrote that It should be of concern that the effect of routine vaccinations on all-cause mortality was not tested in randomized trials.  All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis.  Though a vaccine protects children against the target disease it may simultaneously increase susceptibility to unrelated infections.”

The study only looked at children who were healthy before being vaccinated. Because of that, the researchers noted “The estimate from the natural experiment may therefore still be conservative.”

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Scientists find giant, elusive clam known as ‘the unicorn of mollusks’

For hundreds of years, biologists knew of the giant shipworm only from shell fragments and a handful of dead specimens. Those specimens, despite being preserved in museum jars, had gone to mush. Still, the shipworm’s scattered remains made an outsize impression on biologists. Its three-foot-long tubular shells — the shipworm isn’t technically a worm but a bivalve — were so striking that Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus included the animal in his book that introduced the scientific naming system “Systema Naturae.”

And yet no one could get their hands on a living example of the giant shipworm, or Kuphus polythalamia. Unlike with other shipworms, named because they ate their way into the sides of wooden boats, no one knew where the giant shipworm lived.

“It’s sort of the unicorn of mollusks,” Margo Haygood, a marine microbiologist at the University of Utah, told The Washington Post.

The habitat of the world’s longest clam is a mystery no longer. As Haygood and her colleagues reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the search for the giant shipworm has come to an end.

Television news in the Philippines dealt the mortal blow to the shipworm’s near-mythical status. A TV station aired a short documentary segment about strange shellfish living in a lagoon. The show filmed the mollusks growing in the muck, as though someone had planted rows of elephant tusks. As luck would have it, a colleague of Haygood’s in the Philippines caught wind of the segment. Researchers investigated the lagoon, where they plucked a live shipworm from the mud, slipped it along with some seawater into a PVC pipe and shipped the animal to a laboratory.

“I’ve been studying shipworms since 1989 and in all that time I had never seen a living specimen of Kuphus polythalamia,” Daniel Distel, a co-author of the new study and the director of Northeastern University’s Ocean Genome Legacy Center, wrote in an email. “It was pretty spectacular to lift that tube out of its container for the first time.”

Distel carefully chipped away at the giant shipworm’s massive shell. Smaller shipworms are fleshy pink, beige or white, as are most clams. Not the giant shipworm. Its body is black.

“To see this giant gunmetal black specimen was amazing,” Distel said. “On the one hand I was pretty excited to see what it looked like inside. On the other hand it was a little intimidating to dissect this incredibly rare specimen.”

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A full-grown giant shipworm reaches up to three feet long, which means that when draped across the width of a twin bed, the clam would just barely fit. “It’s quite heavy. It’s like picking up a tree branch or something even heavier,” Haygood said. “The living animal is just magnificent.”

What’s more, the giant shipworm barely has a digestive system. “It’s not feeding in any normal way,” Haygood said.

The clam has a mouth and a small stomach, but its gills are supersize. Living within those gills are bacteria. That’s not unusual for shipworms: The clams, as a rule, have symbiotic relationships with microbes. Usually, though, the microbes help shipworms digest wood.

In the case of the giant shipworm, the scientists found grains of sulfur packed into the bacteria. The marine biologists suspect that, at some point in the shipworm’s evolution, the animal traded its wood-digesting bacteria for bacteria that feed off sulfur compounds.

The study “provides a fascinating example of symbiont displacement, a phenomena we are only just beginning to observe more regularly in nature, thanks to advances in sequencing which have provided us with the tools to unravel the evolutionary history of microbes,” said Nicole Dubilier, director of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, who was not involved in the study. “What we are now seeing is unexpected: symbioses are not as stable as we previously assumed.”

The symbiotic arrangement between microbe and giant shipworm was similar to one found in deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Thousands of feet below the surface, beyond the reaches of sunlight, tube worms also get their nutrients from bacteria that consume sulfides. Despite their similar names, though, tube worms and shipworms aren’t close relatives. Tube worms are annelids — they’re actual worms, like earthworms, not clams.

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But the symbiotic bacteria in both deep-sea worms and the lagoon-living clams are related to each other. “So this is a case of convergent evolution,” Distel said. That is, both the worms and clams independently arrived at the same conclusion: Housing bacteria inside their bodies was a fine way to stay nourished.

Haygood said the presence of the sulfide-consuming bacteria suggested that the lagoon, perhaps filled with rotting wood or other organic matter, produced hydrogen sulfide.

The discovery lends support to a hypothesis proposed by Distel in 2000 about the origins of animals that live in deep-sea vents. In Distel’s theory, mussels that lived in wood and harbored the sulfide-eating bacteria might have sunk to the vents. Far below, they flourished on sulfide released from the vents.

“Wood provided an ecological bridge, helping them to invade the vents,” he said. The discovery of the new shipworm indicated that shallow lagoons could have served as the location for the switch in bacteria types: First the wood served directly as food for clams. But once the clams began to take in the sulfur-loving bacteria, the wood provided a source of the hydrogen sulfide for the microbes.

“This is an extremely rare example where we were actually able to find fairly direct evidence about how this particular symbiosis evolved,” in which the clams traded one type of bacteria for the other, Distel said.

Genetic Study Find that Hitler’s Scientists were Correct about Heredity and Criminality

The “new” finding by U.S. scientists has therefore provided proof of what the Nazis knew in 1933: that criminal behavior is largely a genetic, hereditary issue.

Duplicating a conclusion made by National Socialist scientists over 80 years ago, scientists in Europe and the United States have this week announced the identification of two genes which in a mutated form are found in a “substantially higher frequency” in violent offenders — meaning that such criminal traits are likely to be inherited.

According to the study titled “Genetic background of extreme violent behavior,” published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry (Molecular Psychiatry, October, 28, 2014,  doi:10.1038/mp.2014.130), “in developed countries, the majority of all violent crime is committed by a small group of antisocial recidivistic offenders”—in other words by a small group of people who constantly reoffend.

Until now, the study said, no one has identified any genes which contribute to recidivistic violent offending or severe violent behavior, such as homicide.

 

However, the new study from two independent cohorts of Finnish prisoners “revealed that a monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) low-activity genotype (contributing to low dopamine turnover rate) as well as the CDH13 gene (coding for neuronal membrane adhesion protein) are associated with extremely violent behavior (at least 10 committed homicides, attempted homicides or batteries).”

The study continued: “No substantial signal was observed for either MAOA or CDH13 among non-violent offenders, indicating that findings were specific for violent offending, and not largely attributable to substance abuse or antisocial personality disorder.

“These results indicate both low monoamine metabolism and neuronal membrane dysfunction as plausible factors in the etiology of extreme criminal violent behavior, and imply that at least about 5–10 percent of all severe violent crime in Finland is attributable to the aforementioned MAOA and CDH13 genotypes.”

Study leader Jari Tiihonen and colleagues analyzed the genes of 895 Finnish individuals found guilty of criminal behavior, and classified them by crimes committed, ranging from non-violent offenses (such as drug or property crimes) to extremely violent offenses (10 or more severe violent crimes, consisting of varying degrees of homicide and battery).

The authors found a possible link between violent offences and MAOA, with the strongest association in the extremely violent offending group.

Through additional research, including a genome-wide association study, the authors identified a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13)—a gene involved in neural connectivity that has been linked to impulse control—in extremely violent offenders. When compared to the control population, non-violent offenders were not observed to exhibit either variant to a greater degree, indicating that these genetic variants may be specific to extremely violent behavior. The authors also suggest that the low dopamine recycling associated with the MAOA genotype may result in higher aggression levels during intoxication, increasing the risk of violent behavior.

In effect, these genes affect complex brain chemistry, which in turn alter behavior. As all genes are inherited, these behavioral traits are passed on from parents to children, creating the well-known phenomenon of criminality running through families.

For example, a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Psychol. Med. 2011 Jan; 41(1):97-105. doi: 10.1017/S0033291710000462. Epub 2010 Mar 25), titled “Violent crime runs in families: a total population study of 12.5 million individuals,” found “strong familial aggregation of interpersonal violence among first-degree relatives [e.g. odds ratio (OR) sibling 4.3, 95 percent confidence interval (CI) 4.2-4.3], lower for more distant relatives (e.g. OR cousin 1.9, 95 percent CI 1.9-1.9).

“Familial risks were stronger among women, in higher socio-economic strata, and for early onset interpersonal violence. There were crime-specific effects (e.g. OR sibling for arson 22.4, 95 percent CI 12.2-41.2), suggesting both general and subtype-specific familial risk factors for violent behavior” and concluded that “The observed familiality should be accounted for in criminological research, applied violence risk assessment, and prevention efforts.”

There are also many other anecdotal examples of how criminal behavior is passed from generation to generation (for example, “Crime Runs in the Family,” Sept. 9, 2002, ABC News), and of course, the notorious Bogle family in America whose extended familial incarceration has cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.

According to a report on the Bogles, published in 2002, “For all this criminal activity, the Bogle clan is merely an extreme example of a phenomenon that prison officials, the police and criminal justice experts have long observed, that crime often runs in families.

“Justice Department figures show that 47 percent of inmates in state prisons have a parent or other close relative who has also been incarcerated, said Allen J. Beck of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Similarly, the link between the generations is so powerful that half of all juveniles in custody have a father, mother or other close relative who has been in jail or prison, Mr. Beck said.”

Significantly, the scientists who have completed the latest study took into account environmental factors—whether or not people had a history of substance abuse, antisocial personality disorders or childhood maltreatment—but these factors did not alter the outcome.

The MAOA gene has been linked to the metabolism of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in addiction and the ability to experience pleasure.

In 1934, the German government passed legislation titled the “Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals” which was the result of a Ministry of Justice circular issued in December 1933 which requested that all courts, prosecutors and prison officials report all serious “criminals who might suffer from a genetic disease” to the recently established Hereditary Health Courts for a sterilization hearing (Inventing the Criminal: A History of German Criminology, 1880–1945, Richard F. Wetzell, p. 258).

The point of that law was to prevent serious criminals—those convicted of three or more violent crimes—from having children and thereby reproducing the criminal gene in society.

In the official commentary accompanying the Law on Habitual Criminals, the German Ministry of Justice declared that the “task of protecting the nation from the inferior offspring of genetically diseased criminals lies in the area of eugenics, not criminal law” (ibid, p. 260).

The “new” finding by the scientists has therefore provided proof of what the National Socialist government knew in 1933: that criminal behavior is largely a genetic, hereditary issue, and that it can be combated with a strict eugenics program.

* What the new study failed to point out is the fact that scientific studies have shown that American blacks are fifty times more likely to have the variant of MAOA that is associated with violent behavior.

As detailed in the book, A Troublesome Inheritance, written by Nicholas Wade, (Penguin Press, May 15 2014), a research team led by Michael Vaughn of Saint

Louis University looked at the MAOA promoters in 2,524 American youths. Of the blacks in the sample, 5 percent carried two MAOA promoters, a condition found to be associated with higher levels of delinquency.

“Members of the two-promoter group were significantly more likely to have been arrested and imprisoned than African Americans who carried three or four promoters. The same comparison could not be made in white, or Caucasian, males, the researchers report, because only 0.1 percent carry the two-promoter allele,” Wade pointed out.

* A first-hand account of a National Socialist-era Eugenics Court in action is contained in the 1940 work by T. Lothrop Stoddard, Into the Darkness.

(New Observer)

Hitler’s Scientists May Have Tested the First Atomic Weapon

Most people are familiar with the famous mushroom-shaped cloud picture which shows the famous atomic bomb dropping on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. But what if Germany also had produced its own smaller-scale mushroom cloud a year earlier in the fall of 1944?

The Germans may have lost the neck-and-neck race to build a successful nuclear bomb during WWII, but it’s clear that they were able to test a pretty impressive warhead in 1944.

“A cloud shaped like a mushroom with turbulent, billowing sections (at about 7000 meters) stood, without any seeming connections over the spot where the explosion took place. Strong electrical disturbances and the impossibility to continue radio communication as by lightning turned up.”

This was a statement made by German test pilot Hans Zinsser, in Allan Hall’s DailyMail.com article, who was doing test flights over Ludwigslust at the time. He was not the only witness to the spectacular sight that day.

 

The Dawn of Nuclear Weapons

In December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered nuclear fission, the building block of nuclear chain reactions and disastrously dangerous atomic weapons. Shortly after this discovery, Germany’s nuclear weapons project was born.

For over four years, groups of German scientists explored the possibilities of nuclear weapons production under Adolf Hitler’s watchful eye. The Third Reich achieved success in building “uranium machines” otherwise known as nuclear reactors. However, after repeated alterations to the design, they lacked enough of a heavily-ionized water source known as “heavy water.”

Once their supply of heavy water from Norway was cut off, Hitler’s team only had enough resources for a few more large-scale experiments. This resulted in the sensational production of the first nuclear warhead testing cloud ever seen.

The First Ever Nuclear Test

Mark Walker’s article “Nazis and the Bomb,” published by PBS’s Nova states: “During the last months of the war, a small group of scientists working in secret under Diebner and with the strong support of the physicist Walther Gerlach, who was by that time head of the uranium project, built and tested a nuclear device.”

The multi-colored cloud that was several miles wide was definitely not the imagination of those few eyewitnesses who came forward to describe it. Two German pilots, as well as an Italian observer sent by famed dictator Benito Mussolini, described the sight in similar detail to each other.

Germany was not able to produce the atomic weapons it had hoped for in order to gain the upper hand in WWII. In 1942, Hitler ordered the Reich Research Council to be reorganized as a separate division from the military. With Reich Minister for Armament and Ammunition, Albert Speer, heading the council, the project morphed into a study for alternative energy production, Mail Online reported.

This change did not prevent the germans from being able to demonstrate at least one impressive large-scale test of nuclear power. No one can be sure of the exact nature of the warhead that Germany tested, but what remains undisputed is that it was accomplished and reported by several different sources.

Scientists Get Green Light to Resurrect the Dead with Stem Cells

http://www.renegadetribune.com/scientists-get-green-light-resurrect-dead-stem-cells/
By Minds via Waking Times Media

Bioquark, a biotech company based in the United States, has been given the go-ahead to begin research on 20 brain-dead patients, in an attempt to stimulate and regrow neurons and, literally, bring the patients back from the dead.

The technique is new and untested so the study will likely be controversial.

By implanting stem cells in the patient’s brain, in addition to treating the spinal cord with infusions of chemicals and nerve stimulation techniques (both of which have been shown to bring people out of comas), they hope to reboot the brain and jump-start neural activity.

The result could be people coming back to life.

There isn’t much evidence that this will work, though there is one well-known neurological researcher and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Calixto Machado who is involved with the study as a panel expert.

Bioquark’s CEO, Ira Pastor, said:

“to undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness. We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”

He added, “it is a long-term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study.

Wild Elephants Sleep Just 2 Hours a Day, Puzzling Scientists in UCLA Study

Anyone who feels proud for pulling an all-nighter has nothing on the African Elephant.

A study released Wednesday of two matriarchal elephants in Botswana’s Chobe National Park revealed the lumbering creatures only slept for two hours a day — apparently the least of any mammals.

Remarkably, these insomniac elephants traveled nearly 19 miles in 10 hours without rest and stayed up for a record 46 hours straight, according to the study conducted by the UCLA Center for Sleep Research and the nonprofit research group Elephants Without Borders.

Image:

Scientists have noted that the elephants’ non-sleeping abilities are a new record for a mammal’s sleeping pattern and compared it to captive elephants’ sleeping patterns of five to six hours a day.

“The elephants were studied for continuous 35 day periods [from a distance],” Jerry Siegel, director of the Center for Sleep Research, told NBC News. “Elephants move with their herd and move very frequently, so animals sleeping a lot would be left behind.”

The study noted that both the matriarchal elephants didn’t sleep in the same location daily and would search for locations with lush vegetation, such as the woodlands and open savanna areas, without crossing paths with another elephant herd.

Related: The Surprising Reason This Scientist Wants to Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth

Researchers used GPS trackers and “actiwatch implants” — the equivalent of animal Fitbits — to monitor both elephants’ activity levels and found that both matriarchs could sleep standing for two days straight, napped in several short bouts of about 20 minutes over the course of a night, and kept traveling to avoid poachers, predators and other disturbances.

“I have previously shown in 2005 that herbivores sleep less than omnivores and carnivores. Elephants are eating machines. If they were not eating all the time, they wouldn’t be the massive animals they are,” Siegel said.

However, these floppy-eared giants are leaving many scientists puzzled because they seem to defy the rule of biology: the bigger an animal, the more sleep it needs. According to the study, the elephants’ sleeping times are fewer than the gray whales’ nine hours per day and the giraffes’ 4.6 hours per day.

Researcher Oleg Lyamin, a UCLA professor, told NBC News that the rule is problematic because it was acquired from data based on “studying mice and rats in laboratories” and “observing sleep patterns of animals taken out of their normal habitats and kept solitary, where they are often deprived of complex interactions with the environment.”

Image: A head of African elephants walks in Addo Elephant National Park, some 60 kms outside of Port Elizabeth on Nov. 15, 2009.
A herd of African elephants walks in Addo Elephant National Park, some 60 kms outside of Port Elizabeth on Nov. 15, 2009. Alexander Joe / AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to the known connection between rapid eye movement (REM) sleep influencing memory consolidation, the study and Lyamin both indicated that elephants and wild animals were the big exception to this rule.

Elephants, dolphins, seals and many other wild animals can sacrifice proper shut-eye for days without their performance and cognitive functions, such as memory, being affected or disoriented. However, humans and confined animals show the opposite results and become impaired when regular sleep is not practiced.

But other researchers believe the size of an elephant’s family group could also influence its sleep duration.

“Perhaps elephants in larger family groups sleep longer due to increased protection of having other elephants aware of their surroundings,” said Preston Foerder, assistant professor of animal psychology at the University of Chattanooga. “It’s also possible that they take turns sleeping. Elephants are in a fission-fusion social group, meaning that groups tend to split up and come back together.”

Researchers in the study noted that a lot of ground remains uncovered, especially since male elephants and calves were not observed and an elephant’s skull makes it difficult for implanting tracking devices

As Bee Population Continues Decline Scientists Introduce Robobee

http://www.renegadetribune.com/bee-population-continues-decline-scientists-introduce-robobee/

 

 

By Brandon Turbeville of Activist Post

As the bee population in the United States continues to decline, some scientists are working on a backup option which many people are calling the Robobee.

A recent announcement coming out of the journal Chem, in an article by Eijiro Miyako, a chemist that the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, involves the combination of a drone and a gel to create a robot version of the endangered pollinators.

Miyako and his team used a four-propeller drone to which they attached horse hairs in order to mimic the fuzzy body of a bee. They coated the horse hairs with the gel so that pollen would stick to the horse hairs which would then be carried from one plant to another.

Miyako said he doesn’t believe that the drones would replace bees but that it could help bees with their pollinating duties. He said that the drones will need to become smarter, more energy efficient and have better maneuverability as well as better GPS and artificial intelligence before they can be realistically used.

While working on a project designed to pick up the slack of a declining bee population is obviously not a bad thing, it would be much more prudent for the U.S. Government to immediately investigate and act on what exactly is causing the population to decline to begin with.

Of course, this would involve cracking down on Big Ag and toxic pesticides that are overwhelmingly responsible for such a steep decline. Unfortunately, the U.S. Government seems to be moving in the opposite direction with the Trump Administration having halted the addition of the rusty patched bumble bee to the endangered species list.

While it is of course a good idea to prepare for the worst, a world that depends on vulnerable technology to do the work of what once was simply done as an act of nature is a frightening one indeed. Most people would not want to see a world of tiny drones buzzing about fields and gardens instead of bees, but it seems that is the direction in which the world is heading.


This article originally appeared on Activist PostImage: © Dr. Eijiro Miyako

Liberal Scientists Developing Methods to Make White People Less Resistant to Non-White Invasion

Now scientists think they can use technology to make White people be less resistant to a foreign invasion.

Only sick individuals would develop such things. How many Jews were involved in this? That’d be a good question to ask.

From Express:

A bizarre experiment claims to be able to make Christians no longer believe in God and make Britons open their arms to migrants in experiments some may find a threat to their values.

 

Scientists looked at how the brain resolves abstract ideological problems.

Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), researchers safely shut down certain groups of neurones in the brains of volunteers.

TMS, which is used to treat depression, involves placing a large electromagnetic coil against the scalp which creates electric currents that stimulate nerve cells in the region of the brain involved in mood control.

Researchers found the technique radically altered religious perceptions and prejudice.

Belief in God was reduced almost by a third, while participants became 28.5 per cent less bothered by immigration numbers.

(Daily Slave)

Scientists: We can clone a woolly mammoth. But should we?

FEBRUARY 16, 2017 This is not your parents’ “Jurassic Park.”

Harnessing the power of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool, a team of Harvard researchers is slowly coaxing woolly mammoth-like traits out of normal elephant cells. But recent claims that they’re close to creating a hybrid embryo have raised questions regarding the ethics of the procedure.

The issues range from questions of practicality – Should we risk impregnating an endangered elephant with an experimental embryo? – to an ethical Pandora’s box: Would the ability to bring species back from the dead derail conservation efforts?

But geneticist George Church says he believes letting the research continue would produce the benefits that go beyond the chance to see an extinct creature, suggesting the reintroduction of the woolly mammoth might mitigate climate change.

Except it wouldn’t be a mammoth, exactly.

“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” Dr. Church told the Guardian. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”

The phrase “mammoth cloning” may conjure up images of scientists extracting amber-bound DNA and incubating it in frogs as in the 1993 film “Jurassic Park,” but it means something quite different to Church.

Instead of re-creating an extinct organism, his team is trying to create a hybrid “mammophant.” Starting with the woolly mammoth’s closest living relative, the Asian elephant, Church uses the CRISPR precision gene editing tool to snip and splice in mammoth genes, granting mammoth-like characteristics such as a shaggy coat, extra fat, and cold-resistant blood.

“The list of edits affects things that contribute to the success of elephants in cold environments. We already know about ones to do with small ears, subcutaneous fat, hair, and blood,” Church explained to New Scientist.

So far, with samples from a remarkably well-preserved 2013 find as a DNA guide, the team has accomplished 45 of these edits. If their goal were to perfectly re-create the mammoth genome, they’d still have thousands to go.

And they aren’t the only team taking this alternative cloning approach. Researchers in Chile are also trying to engineer a dinosaur out of a chicken by rolling back certain genes.

Church’s team says they’re only a couple years away from the next step, making the edits in an elephant embryo and studying its viability. The researchers believe they could turn skin cells of the highly endangered Asian elephant into embryos using cloning techniques.

And that’s the easy part.

Once they have a mammophant egg ready to go, they’d need a way to carry it to term. Ethics prevent using real Asian elephants as surrogate mothers because of their endangered status and high degree of intelligence, but Church has other plans.

“We hope to do the entire procedure ex-vivo,” or outside a living body, he told The Guardian. “It would be unreasonable to put female reproduction at risk in an endangered species.”

Some say the technology to grow a hybrid animal inside an artificial womb won’t be possible this decade, but The Guardian reports that Church’s lab is hard at work on the problem, already able to incubate a mouse embryo for ten days, about half of its gestation period.

Even if Church succeeds in overcoming all the technical hurdles, some wonder if the mammoth should be resurrected at all.

As Matthew Cobb, professor of zoology at the University of Manchester, told The Guardian: “The proposed ‘de-extinction’ of mammoths raises a massive ethical issue – the mammoth was not simply a set of genes, it was a social animal, as is the modern Asian elephant. What will happen when the elephant-mammoth hybrid is born? How will it be greeted by elephants?”

Church argues that the mammophant would join the fight against global warming, thus bringing concrete benefits to humans all over the planet.

“They keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in,” said Church. “In the summer they knock down trees and help the grass grow.”

While such behavior could help keep greenhouses gasses locked in the permafrost, we’d need to get pretty good at mammophant cloning to bring back enough of the beasts to populate Canada and Siberia. Plus, as is often the case with geoengineering schemes, the effects would be uncertain. Scientists aren’t even sure whether the original loss of mammoths caused some climate change, or if the climate change killed the mammoths. In addition, there’s no guarantee that the helpful stomping behaviors are genetic, instead of taught by long-vanished mammoth parents.

And climate may not be the only unintended consequence. Other researchers worry developing such Lazarus-technology would endanger current conservation efforts. “De-extinction just provides the ultimate ‘out’,” said wildlife biologist Stanley Temple in a BBC interview. “If you can always bring the species back later, it undermines the urgency about preventing extinctions.”

Rather, we should focus on keeping the Asian elephant alive, paleobiologist and mammoth expert Tori Herridge wrote in a 2014 opinion piece for The Guardian.

“Sometimes the ice age world is so real to me that my throat aches and my eyes sting a little when I think about what we’ve lost, the animals we will never see,” she wrote. “But here’s the irony – if we feel like that about the mammoth, just think how our kids might feel about the elephant if we let it become extinct. We really ought to be focusing on that, and doing everything we can to stop it from happening.”