Hexbyte Glen Cove New research may explain shortages within STEM careers thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New research may explain shortages within STEM careers

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A new study by the University of Georgia revealed that more college students change majors within the STEM pipeline than leave the career path of science, technology, engineering and mathematics altogether.

Funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and done in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, the study examined interviews, surveys and institutional data from 1,193 students at a U.S. midwestern university for more than six years to observe a single area of the STEM : biomedical fields of study.

Out of 921 students who stayed in the biomedical pipeline through graduation, almost half changed their plans within the biomedical fields.

“This was almost double the number of students who left biomedical fields altogether,” said Emily Rosenzweig, co-author of the study and assistant professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s department of educational psychology. “This suggests that if we want to fully understand why there are shortages in certain STEM careers, we need to look at those who change plans within the pipeline, not just those who leave it.”

Rosenzweig examined students’ motivations for changing career plans and found that students were more often inspired to make a change because a new field seemed more attractive.

This finding pointed to an underexplored research area that educators, policymakers and administrators should devote more attention to in the future. Rather than focusing only on what makes students disenchanted with a particular career, factors that make alternative career paths seem valuable to students need to be considered.

“The sheer number of changes made by students who remained in the biomedical pipeline highlights the divergence of paths students take in their career decision-making,” Rosenzweig said. “We should not simply assume that students are staying on course and progressing smoothly toward intended careers just because they have not left the [STEM] pipeline.”

Ultimately, the research provides new insights about students’ motivations for choosing various careers inside the STEM pipeline and demonstrates the importance of understanding this group if schools are to promote retention in particular STEM careers.



More information:
Emily Q. Rosenzweig et al, Inside the STEM pipeline: Changes in students’ biomedical career plans across the college years, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0985

Citation:
New research may explain shortages within STEM careers (2021, May 12)
retrieved 13 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-shortages-stem-careers.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Could AI help recover energy and fresh water from municipal wastewater? thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Could AI help recover energy and fresh water from municipal wastewater?

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Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration station in Cal-Sag and Calumet River.

As city populations boom and the need grows for sustainable energy and water, scientists and engineers with the University of Chicago and partners are looking towards artificial intelligence to build new systems to deal with wastewater. Two new projects will test out ways to make “intelligent” water systems to recover nutrients and clean water.

“Water is an indispensable resource of our society, as it is required for sustaining life and economic prosperity,” said Junhong Chen, the Crown Family Professor in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and lead water strategist at Argonne National Laboratory. “Our future economy and national security greatly depend on the availability of . However, there is a limited supply of renewable freshwater, with no substitute.”

Reduce, reuse

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that UChicago, along with Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University and other partners, will receive funding to develop an artificial intelligence-assisted system for recovery of energy, nutrients and freshwater from municipal wastewater.

The ultimate goal of the project, which will be funded at $2 million over three years, is to transform the existing U.S. treatment system for municipal wastewater into an intelligent water resource recovery system that will dramatically reduce energy consumption and become energy positive at a national scale.

The resulting water recovery system would benefit the water supply in underserved communities on Chicago’s South Side as well as the Great Lakes region in general, including Milwaukee and Detroit.

MWRD connects Des Plaines Inflow Tunnel to McCook reservoir construction. Credit: MWRD

“This project is an important step forward in realizing Argonne’s strategic plan to enhance our leadership in water-related science through pioneering research, discoveries and innovations using artificial intelligence,” said Chen.

The approach will combine artificial intelligence and machine learning for online learning of system dynamics, mathematical modeling for optimizing energy and nutrient recovery, and life-cycle analysis and modeling with respect to both the science and economics to guide system design. It will also involve development of novel materials for efficient solar steam generation and wireless sensors for real-time water quality monitoring.

The intelligent system concept for municipal wastewater recovery should also be applicable to other wastewaters, including industrial and agricultural.

The other partners include the Great Lakes Water Authority, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, NanoAffix and two regional water innovation hubs—Current and the Water Council. The award is part of a slate of Department of Energy projects totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in our aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment.

In addition to Chen, the project team members include Seth Darling of Argonne, Jennifer Dunn of Northwestern University and Argonne, George Wells of Northwestern University, and Asst. Prof. Yuxin Chen of the University of Chicago.

Des Plaines tunnel system construction with water. Credit: MWRD

Removing toxic water contaminants

Another project seeks to use AI in molecular engineering to detect and remove water contaminants.

Water-contaminating chemicals such as polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, may lead to severe environmental and health effects, such as low infant birth weight, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption. The current approaches for detecting these chemicals are expensive, time-consuming, and require bulky equipment and skilled personnel. The vast number of contaminants—over 4,000 in the PFAS family alone—also prohibit conventional development of biological or chemical probes.

A project headed by University of Chicago and Argonne scientists will develop a platform using molecular simulation, organic synthesis, and to rapidly explore the large molecular space of potential PFAS probes and efficiently identify, design, and fabricate new chemical probes for sensing and removing contaminants from water.

The work, which partners with Current, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, will also advance data science, characterization at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, and high-performance simulation. The scientists hope it could potentially transfer to the screening and removal of other water contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, to advance global public health. It is funded through the Discovery Challenge program from the Center for Data and Computing (CDAC), with support from UChicago’s Office of Research and National Laboratories Joint Task Force Initiative.

Project scientists include Junhong Chen, Stuart Rowan, and Andrew Ferguson of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, Rebecca Willett and Eric Jonas of the UChicago Computer Science department, Seth Darling of the Pritzker School and Argonne, and Sang Soo Lee and Chris Benmore of Argonne.



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Could AI help recover energy and fresh water from municipal wastewater? (2021, May 11)
retrieved 12 May 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Discovery of new geologic process calls for changes to plate tectonic cycle thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Discovery of new geologic process calls for changes to plate tectonic cycle

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Elements of a newly discovered process in plate tectonics include a mass (rock slab weight), a pulley (trench), a dashpot (microcontinent), and a string (oceanic plate) that connects these elements to each other. In the initial state, the microcontinent drifts towards the subduction zone (Figure a). The microcontinent then extends during its journey to the subduction trench owing to the tensional force applied by the pull of the rock slab pull across the subduction zone (Figure b). Finally, the microcontinent accretes to the overriding plate and resists subduction due to its low density, causing the down-going slab to break off (Figure c). Credit: Erkan Gün/University of Toronto

Geoscientists at the University of Toronto (U of T) and Istanbul Technical University have discovered a new process in plate tectonics which shows that tremendous damage occurs to areas of Earth’s crust long before it should be geologically altered by known plate-boundary processes, highlighting the need to amend current understandings of the planet’s tectonic cycle.

Plate tectonics, an accepted theory for over 60 years that explains the geologic processes occurring below the surface of Earth, holds that its outer shell is fragmented into continent-sized blocks of solid rock, called “plates,” that slide over Earth’s mantle, the rocky inner layer above the planet’s core. As the plates drift around and collide with each other over million-years-long periods, they produce everything from volcanoes and earthquakes to and deep ocean trenches, at the boundaries where the plates collide.

Now, using supercomputer modelling, the researchers show that the plates on which Earth’s oceans sit are being torn apart by massive tectonic forces even as they drift about the globe. The findings are reported in a study published this week in Nature Geoscience.

The thinking up to now focused only on the geological deformation of these drifting plates at their boundaries after they had reached a , such as the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean where the massive Pacific plate dives beneath the smaller Philippine plate and is recycled into Earth’s mantle.

The new research shows much earlier damage to the drifting plate further away from the boundaries of two colliding plates, focused around zones of microcontinents—continental crustal fragments that have broken off from main continental masses to form distinct islands often several hundred kilometers from their place of origin.

“Our work discovers that a completely different part of the plate is being pulled apart because of the subduction process, and at a remarkably early phase of the tectonic cycle,” said Erkan Gün, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T and lead author of the study.







Elements of a newly discovered process in plate tectonics include a mass (rock slab weight), a pulley (trench), a dashpot (microcontinent), and a string (oceanic plate) that connects these elements to each other.In the initial state, the microcontinent drifts towards the subduction zone (Figure a).The microcontinent then extends during its journey to the subduction trench owing to the tensional force applied by the pull of the rock slab pull across the subduction zone (Figure b).Finally, the microcontinent accretes to the overriding plate and resists subduction due to its low density, causing the down-going slab to break off. Credit: Erkan Gün/University of Toronto

The researchers term the mechanism a “subduction pulley” where the weight of the subducting portion that dives beneath another tectonic plate, pulls on the drifting ocean plate and tears apart the weak microcontinent sections in an early phase of potentially significant damage.

“The damage occurs long before the microcontinent fragment reaches its fate to be consumed in a subduction zone at the boundaries of the colliding plates,” said Russell Pysklywec, professor and chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at U of T, and a coauthor of the study. He says another way to look at it is to think of the drifting ocean plate as an airport baggage conveyor, and the microcontinents are like pieces of luggage travelling on the conveyor.

“The conveyor system itself is actually tearing apart the luggage as it travels around the carousel, before the luggage even reaches its owner.”

The researchers arrived at the results following a mysterious observation of major extension of rocks in alpine regions in Italy and Turkey. These observations suggested that the tectonic plates that brought the rocks to their current location were already highly damaged prior to the collisional and mountain-building events that normally cause deformation.

“We devised and conducted computational Earth models to investigate a process to account for the observations,” said Gün. “It turned out that the temperature and pressure rock histories that we measured with the virtual Earth models match closely with the enigmatic rock evolution observed in Italy and Turkey.”

According to the researchers, the findings refine some of the fundamental aspects of and call for a revised understanding of this fundamental theory in geoscience.

“Normally we assume—and teach—that the ocean plate conveyor is too strong to be damaged as it drifts around the globe, but we prove otherwise,” said Pysklywec.



More information:
Erkan Gün et al, Pre-collisional extension of microcontinental terranes by a subduction pulley, Nature Geoscience (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00746-9

Citation:
Discovery of new geologic process calls for changes to plate tectonic cycle (2021, May 11)
retrieved 12 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-discovery-geologic-plate-tectonic.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Understanding SARS-COV-2 proteins is key to improve therapeutic options for COVID-19 thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Understanding SARS-COV-2 proteins is key to improve therapeutic options for COVID-19

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Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles isolated from a patient. Credit: NIAID

COVID-19 has had a significant impact since the pandemic was declared by WHO in 2020, with over 3 million deaths and counting, Researchers and medical teams have been hard at work at developing strategies to control the spread of the infection, caused by SARS-COV-2 virus and treat affected patients. Of special interest to the global population is the developments of vaccines to boost human immunity against SARS-COV-2, which are based on our understanding of how the viral proteins work during the infection in host cells. Two vaccines, namely the Pfizer/BioINtech and Oxford/AZ vaccine rely on the use of delivering the gene that encodes the viral spike protein either as an mRNA or through an adenovirus vector to promote the production of relevant antibodies. The use of monoclonal antibodies has also been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

It is very clear that provide interesting and potentially effective targets for neutralizing viruses, and SARS-COV-2 is no exception. A recent review published in Current Molecular Medicine presents a summary of SARS-COV-2 proteins. The review, authored by M. E. A. Mohammed (King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia) presents tabular information about 3 major types of SARS-COV-2 proteins: functional proteins (which represent enzymes responsible for , receptor binding, viral invasion and virion assembly and release), (which are associated with the viral protein coat), and accessory proteins (which help in viral replication and virus-host interactions). In addition to informative tables, the review also provides current information about individual proteins in detail in terms of structure and molecular function.

The author points out that SARS-COV-2 proteome consists of proteins that have an increased number of amino acids (nsp3 and spike protein), deleted proteins (orf3b and orf9b) and inserted proteins (orf10). The list of proteins has been compared with variants in SARS-COV and another bat coronavirus species (RATG13). A number of structural and nonstructural proteins of SARS-COV-2 are conserved among the coronavirus species. The list of proteins provides a good starting point for researchers to search for possible pharmaceutical targets for combatting SARS-COV-2 infections.



More information:
Mohammed Elimam Ahamed Mohammed, SARS-CoV-2 proteins: Are they useful as targets for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines?, Current Molecular Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.2174/1566524021666210223143243

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Citation:
Understanding SARS-COV-2 proteins is key to improve therapeutic options for COVID-19 (2021, May 11)
retrieved 12 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-sars-cov-proteins-key-therapeutic-options.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Identifying the rise of multi drug resistant E. coli thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Identifying the rise of multi drug resistant E. coli

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Escherichia coli. Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

Antibiotic resistance in E. coli has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s despite attempts to control it, a new study suggests. In the biggest genomic survey of E. coli to date, that took more than 16 years in Norway, researchers have successfully tracked the spread of antibiotic resistant genes and have shown that these genes are being transferred between E. coli strains.

Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Oslo have tracked in Norway and compared this to a previous study from the UK. They found that resistant strains developed around the same time, but increased more rapidly in the UK population.

The results, published today in The Lancet Microbe show that tracking these resistant strains is important in the surveillance and control of drug resistant E. coli, which poses a significant issue in hospitals where it can cause severe infection and mortality. In addition, understanding how these genes are transferred between strains, and what has caused them to acquire can help prevent the growth of antibiotic resistance strains.

The bacterium, Escherichia coli is a common cause of bloodstream infections world-wide*, which seem to be increasing over the last decade. E. coli is commonly found in the gut, where it does not cause harm, but if it gets into the bloodstream due to a weakened immune system it can cause severe and life threatening infections. As an added challenge for health care providers, multi-drug resistance (MDR) has become a frequent feature of such infections, and in a worrying number of cases the available treatment options are becoming limited.

In the largest study of its kind, and only the second systematic longitudinal genomic study of bacteremia E. coli, researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Oslo processed a nation-wide catalogue of samples from more than 3,200 patients to track over 16 years. By harnessing the power of large-scale DNA sequencing, they tracked the emergence of drug resistance and compared this to a similar study conducted in the UK**.

The team found that MDR started to increase and show in more strains in the early 2000s due to antibiotic pressure, and now multiple MDR E. coli strains are present in Norway. However, MDR E. coli seems to be more widely present in the UK, despite similar policies in place around antibiotic use. The UK population however is considerably larger than Norway which could explain some of the differences. Further research is needed to allow for closer comparison and to identify the exact factors that cause rapid spread in some locations compared to others.

MDR is relatively rare in bacteria. However, this new study has identified that lineages that previously were not thought to have MDR have acquired drug-resistance genes, showing the increased ability of E. coli to share MDR genes that move horizontally between strains.

Professor Jukka Corander, co-author and Associate Faculty member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The high number of samples from the Norwegian population and the level of genomic detail on the strains of bacteria enabled us to make much more far-reaching conclusions than were ever possible before. This study demonstrates the power arising from a systematic national surveillance of resistant organisms, which both collects and makes the data available for in-depth analyses. Without these in place, it would have been impossible to approach the central research questions formulated in the study and find answers to them.”

The researchers hope to conduct similar research in the UK to build on previous studies and gain a full data set of 16 years in the UK in order to more closely track MDR resistant E. coli.

Dr. Rebecca Gladstone, lead author of the study and Bioinformatician at the University of Oslo, Norway, said: “Being able to estimate the expansion timelines of the MDR clones of E. coli and to identify multiple occasions of novel acquisition of resistance genes is particularly exciting as this is the first time that this has been possible. Understanding and tracking the movement of these drug resistance genes and the that carry them are necessary for controlling the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, which is a huge issue in healthcare.”

Professor Julian Parkhill, co-author and Professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at University of Cambridge, said: “Long-term studies such as this one provide in-depth understanding about the complex epidemiology underlying bloodstream infections. The next step would be further research to detail the factors determining the success of emerging pathogenic clones of these bacteria, to help find a way to control and possibly minimise the spread of multidrug resistance.”



More information:
The Lancet Microbe, www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (21)00031-8/fulltext

*Kern WV, Rieg S. (2020) Burden of bacterial bloodstream infection – A brief update on epidemiology and significance of multidrug-resistant pathogens. Clin Microbiol Infect; 26: 151-7.

**Teemu Kallonen et al. Systematic longitudinal survey of invasiveEscherichia coliin England demonstrates a stable population structure only transiently disturbed by the emergence of ST131, Genome Research (2017). DOI: 10.1101/gr.216606.116

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Crew training begins soon for first private trip to ISS thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Crew training begins soon for first private trip to ISS

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The International Space Station photographed in 2018 from a Soyuz spacecraft

Training of the crew for the first entirely private trip to the International Space Station (ISS) is to begin soon, Axiom Space, the company behind the flight, said Monday at a joint press conference with NASA.

Four astronauts are to be launched to the ISS in late January aboard a rocket built by another company, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Only one of the four—NASA veteran Michael Lopez-Alegria—has been in space before.

The other three are businessmen—Larry Conner, an American, Mark Pathy, a Canadian, and Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli.

The mission dubbed Ax-1 is to last around 10 days, said Axiom Space president and CEO Michael Suffredini.

The astronauts will work and live in the American section of the space station and plan to conduct a number of scientific experiments while in orbit.

“We’ll be starting what I would call serious training next week,” said Lopez-Alegria, the Ax-1 commander.

“From there the pace will pick up, and we’ll all be immersed essentially full time in ISS systems and Crew Dragon training starting in the fall.”

He said the four men had only been together a “handful of times” because of the Covid-19 pandemic but would take a “bonding” camping trip in Alaska in July.

Lopez-Alegria said he will start full-time training in August and Connor, the mission pilot, will begin in September.

Starting in October, all four will begin Houston-based on the ISS systems and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.

Axiom Space considers the mission a first step in its plan to build the first commercial space station.

Asked about the cost of Ax-1, Suffredini said we “generally don’t talk about specific pricing.”

“It’s been widely reported—numbers in the tens of millions—which I wouldn’t argue with,” he said.

Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s commercial spaceflight development, said the is a “renaissance in US .”

“This is a real inflection point,” he said.

The US space agency is aiming for two such private missions a year.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in private astronaut missions,” said Angela Hart, NASA’s manager of commercial low-Earth orbit development.

“At this point the demand exceeds what we actually believe the opportunities on station will be,” Hart said.

Seven “space tourists” flew to the ISS between 2001 and 2009 aboard Russian Soyuz rockets.



© 2021 AFP

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Crew training begins soon for first private trip to ISS (2021, May 10)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Drone video shows endangered whales appearing to embrace thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Drone video shows endangered whales appearing to embrace

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Were these whales really hugging—or was it just a fluke?

Drone video of two critically endangered North Atlantic swimming in Cape Cod Bay shows the animals appearing to embrace one another with their flippers.

Wildlife photographer Brian Skerry and scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New England Aquarium captured the moment on Feb. 28 as the interacted.

Woods Hole scientists say such behavior is rarely observed and that it may have been the first time a whale hug was recorded from the air.

“Researchers saw what appeared to be whales hugging with their flippers, technically described as ‘belly to belly:’ perhaps showing affection and attempts at mating,” the research team said in a statement.

North Atlantic right whales are some of the planet’s most endangered animals, with the known population estimated at just 360. The whales are susceptible to ship strikes and potentially lethal entanglements with commercial fishing gear.

Scientists say there’s a bright spot: The whales gave birth over the past winter in greater numbers than scientists have seen since 2015.



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Drone video shows endangered whales appearing to embrace (2021, May 10)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Large Chinese rocket segment disintegrates over Indian Ocean thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Large Chinese rocket segment disintegrates over Indian Ocean

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A large segment of the Chinese Long March-5B rocket—seen here during launch on April 29, 2021—has re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean

A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, China’s space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-tonne object would come down.

Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had launched the first module of China’s new space station into Earth orbit on April 29.

But the US space agency NASA and some experts said China had behaved irresponsibly, as an uncontrolled re-entry of such a large object risked damage and casualties.

“After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 (0224 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the last-stage wreckage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 launch vehicle has re-entered the atmosphere,” the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement, providing coordinates for a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.

It added that most of the segment disintegrated and was destroyed during descent.

The US military’s Space Command said the rocket “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 pm EDT on May 8 (0215 GMT Sunday)”.

“It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water.”

Monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, said that the location in Saudi Arabia was where American systems last recorded it.

China has poured billions into its ambitious space programme

“Operators confirm that the rocket actually went into the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives,” it tweeted.

The segment’s descent matched expert predictions that any debris would have splashed down into the ocean, given that 70 percent of the planet is covered by water.

Because it was an uncontrolled descent, there was widespread public interest and speculation about where the debris would land.

American and European space authorities were among those tracking the rocket and trying to predict its re-entry.

Accusations of negligence

Objects generate immense amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn up and disintegrate. But larger ones such as the Long March-5B may not be destroyed entirely.

Their wreckage can land on the surface of the planet and may cause damage and casualties, though that risk is low.

Last year, debris from another Chinese Long March rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said China had failed to ‘meet responsible standards regarding their space debris’

That, and the one that came down Sunday, are tied for the fourth-biggest objects in history to undergo an uncontrolled re-entry, according to data from Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell.

The uncertainty and risks of such a re-entry sparked accusations that Beijing had behaved irresponsibly.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested last week that China had been negligent, and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson echoed that after the re-entry on Sunday.

“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations,” Nelson said in a statement.

“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.”

Chinese state tabloid Global Times slammed US concerns as “shameless hype” in a Sunday editorial.

“It is seriously anti-intellectual to claim that China’s rocket debris is especially risky,” read the article.

“Washington will keep nitpicking and discrediting Beijing over the construction of (the) space station.”

Fact file on China’s propective space station, scheduled to be operational by 2022

China’s space ambitions

To avoid such scenarios, some experts have recommended a redesign of the Long March-5B rocket—which is not equipped for a controlled descent.

“An ocean reentry was always statistically the most likely,” McDowell tweeted.

“It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives). But it was still reckless.”

Chinese authorities had downplayed the risk, however.

“The probability of causing harm to aviation activities or (on people and activities) on the ground is extremely low,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday.

Beijing has poured billions of dollars into space exploration to boost its global stature and technological might.

The launch of the first module of its space station—by the Long March rocket that came down Sunday—was a milestone in its ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space.



© 2021 AFP

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Large Chinese rocket segment disintegrates over Indian Ocean (2021, May 9)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove New research sets stage for development of salmonella vaccine thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New research sets stage for development of salmonella vaccine

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Salmonella forms a biofilm. Credit: CDC

With the COVID-19 vaccines on many people’s minds, some may be surprised to learn that we do not yet have vaccines for many common infectious diseases.

Take , for example, which can infect people through contaminated food, water and animals. According to the World Health Organization, non-typhoidal salmonella infection affects more than 95 million people globally each year, leading to an estimated 2 million deaths annually. There is no approved vaccine for salmonella in humans, and some strains are antibiotic-resistant.

But just as scientists spent decades doing the basic research that made the eventual development of the COVID-19 vaccines possible, University of Florida researchers led by Mariola Edelmann in the department of microbiology and cell science, UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, are laying the groundwork for an effective vaccine for salmonella and other hard-to-treat bacterial infections. In their study supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in PLOS Pathogens, the UF/IFAS scientists demonstrate a novel approach to triggering immunity against salmonella.

This approach takes advantage of how cells communicate with each other, said Winnie Hui, first author of the study, which was conducted while she was a doctoral candidate in microbiology and cell science.

“Cells communicate with each other through particles called extracellular vesicles or EVs. Think of these like molecular telephones that let cells talk to each other. We wanted to know if some of those messages included information related to immune response,” said Hui, who graduated from the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in 2019 and is now a postdoctoral researcher in the UF College of Medicine, division of rheumatology and clinical immunology.

“Host EVs have not been previously studied in the context of fighting enteric bacterial infections, so that is part of what makes our approach new and adds to the field,” said Edelmann, senior author on the study, Hui’s dissertation director and an assistant professor of microbiology and .

Edelmann hypothesized that a specific type of EVs called exosomes were part of the immune response against salmonella and may one day hold the key to developing a vaccine.

To test their idea, the research team took exosomes from white blood cells infected with salmonella. Inside those exosomes, which measure just a few dozen nanometers across, they found salmonella antigens, which are bits of salmonella protein known to trigger an .

Next, the researchers wanted to know if these exosomes might function as a vaccine, helping the body build up its defenses against salmonella, said Lisa Emerson, one of the study’s co-authors and a doctoral student in Edelmann’s laboratory.

“We put the exosomes in ‘nanobubbles’ that the mice inhaled. Later, we ran tests to see how their immune systems responded,” said Emerson, who is in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The researchers found that after they introduced the exosomes containing salmonella antigens, the exosomes localized to tissues that produce mucous, activating specific cells at these sites. Weeks later, mice developed antibodies against salmonella and specific cellular immune responses, which typically target this bacterium for elimination. For the researchers, this is a promising result.

“There are two types of immune responses generated when our bodies encounter a pathogen. The first one is called innate immunity, which is an immediate response to an , but it is also less specific. The other response is called adaptive immunity, and this protective response is specifically tailored to a given pathogen, but it also takes longer to develop. Exosomes generated by infected white blood stimulated both of these responses in animals,” said Hui.

While these results show promise, more research will be needed before we have a salmonella that works in humans, Hui said.

“Our study has identified a novel role of exosomes in the protective responses against salmonella, but we also think that exosomes can find broader applications for other intestinal infections and beyond,” Edelmann said.

“Exosomes have this unique capability to encapsulate precious cargo while enabling its targeted delivery to tissue of interest. For many conditions and infections, this precise delivery of therapeutic payload is what makes a difference, and we are currently also evaluating exosomes in delivering cargo to other tissues of choice,” said Edelmannn whose work is supported by several federal funds focused on the roles of extracellular vesicles in bacterial infections and disease and host-directed therapies against intestinal infections.



More information:
Winnie W. Hui et al, Antigen-encapsulating host extracellular vesicles derived from Salmonella-infected cells stimulate pathogen-specific Th1-type responses in vivo, PLOS Pathogens (2021). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009465

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Growth of satire during 'age of politeness' saw worries ridicule could lead to abuse, research shows thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Growth of satire during ‘age of politeness’ saw worries ridicule could lead to abuse, research shows

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

The explosion of satire in the Georgian period saw philosophers worry mockery could lead to abuse, research shows.

The “age of politeness” was also the age of ridicule, and this led to a “crisis of civility”, according to the new book.

Satire, caricature and comedy thrived in 18th century Britain after censorship was relaxed. This led to moral panic as critics worried it would corrupt public debate. People worried about abuse in a similar way as they do about online rudeness today.

The study shows how philosophers of the time nevertheless defended the use of ridicule to expose arrogance and hypocrisy and hold the powerful to account. Uncivil Mirth, by Dr. Ross Carroll from the University of Exeter, examines how leading thinkers of the period tried to enlist ridicule for causes that served the public good, such as religious toleration and the abolition of the slave trade.

Dr. Carroll said: “This was not just an era of polite wit. Things were more complicated, and the assumption everyone was civil doesn’t fully capture what happened in public life during the Enlightenment. Ridicule was sometimes used in a radical and aggressive way to tackle major social problems and individuals seen as dangerous.”

“It was thought a blanket ban on rude speech would only benefit the powerful. At the same time there were worries that an increase of ridicule in public speech could lead to citizens gratuitously humiliating each other and wounding those who deserved at least basic respect.”

Dr. Carroll examined correspondence between philosophers, their unpublished notebooks and their published texts, including their more satirical works. The aim of the book is to reconstruct the philosophical debate surrounding the uses and limitations of ridicule as an everyday practice of conversation and persuasion, whether in debating clubs, coffee shops, or in interactions between masters and domestic servants.

The debate was begun by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury earned notoriety for maintaining that ridicule could be used anywhere and applied to anything, even to religion. He went so far as to champion it as a better method for disarming fanatics than persecution or legal sanctions. Shaftesbury reckoned that persecution created martrys, while laughing at people showed they posed no threat. In his Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times in 1711 Shaftesbury rehabilitated ridicule from the charge of incivility and demonstrated its general usefulness against the bigoted and proud.

Dr. Carroll said: “The Enlightenment wasn’t just the era of politeness, but more a period when people repeatedly called for politeness in precisely because it was lacking. Ridicule, on the other hand, was not inherently civil or uncivil, inclusive or exclusionary. There were nuanced differences of style and content.”

Shaftesbury thought the social value of ridicule was so great that preserving its free use in debate was among the most critical tasks that philosophy could perform. A wide range of other philosophers followed his example by writing about the power of ridicule to unsettle prejudice, demarcate the boundaries of sociable behaviour, and attack entrenched systems of thought and power. They ranged from the philosophical sceptic David Hume to his Aberdonian critics Thomas Reid and James Beattie, to enthusiastic defenders of the rights of man such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Alexander Geddes. All engaged in intense handwringing over the damage that even well-intentioned ridicule could cause to civility and social peace.



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