Cheerios Initiative To Increase Global Bee Population

cheerios wants to increase bee population

Their main goal of the Cheerios initiative is to boost the global bee population

The changes our planet is experiencing have an effect on all of us. Animals are the ones that suffer the most. Many species are on the verge of extinction due to human activity that has caused global warming and climate change. In order to save the species that are endangered or threatened, some companies are taking action.

Great Initiative For The Bee Population

One of the species that has experienced a decline in population numbers is the bumble bee. Bees, in general, are affected by human activity. Despite the fact that they are doing a great thing for our economy, people don’t protect these insects enough.

The bee population is declining more and more every year. This is why a cereal company decided to take action. Cheerios is that company. In order to raise awareness about the bee population decline, they decided to remove their mascot from the cereal box. Their Honey Nut Cheerios product no longer has no mascot.

Until this change, every box of Honey Nut Cheerios had a bee as a mascot. The bee is now removed and instead, there is only the shape of it. The campaign made by Cheerios is running in Canada and the US. Their main goal is to boost the global bee population.

In order to save these insects from going extinct, the company wants to distribute free packets of wildflower seeds. They are also encouraging their customers to plant the wildflower seeds so that the bee population starts to increase.

After people get the seeds and plant them, they can also post pictures of the resulting wildflowers. This initiative was launched last year, in Canada. Now it’s spreading all across the US. The hashtag of the campaign is #BringBacktheBees.

In order to distribute the seeds, the company is organizing events in the US. One of those events took place at FLEUROTICA.  This is an innovative floral fashion show. Today, they are also organizing another event. Cheerios is going to transform the Pioneer Plaza in Chicago into a flower garden.

They are running their campaign on Twitter too. Cheerios is posting updates about it and the event’s outcomes on its respective social media page. The company wants to show, once again, what the bee population does for us. These insects are pollinating more than 35% of the food supply worldwide.

Image source: Flickr

Sickle Cell Anemia Can Be Cured With Genetic Engineering

sickle cell anemia

Some doctors claim that sickle cell anemia can be cured with genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering is one of the most controversial topics nowadays. Due to the fact that scientists are now allowed to use stem cells and grow them in order to cure people of diseases, genetic engineering is more popular.

Some doctors claim that sickle cell anemia can be cured with genetic engineering. Despite the fact that there is no actual proof of the power of genetic engineering, many people believe that it can be a revolutionary method for the medicine available these days.

Despite the fact that medicine has evolved, doctors and scientists believe that there is always room for improvements. This is why genetic engineering could be the next step in medicine. Although it is approved for tests, this type of medicine can only be used to treat diseases or to prevent them.

Sickle cell anemia is considered to be a slow killer. People who suffer from this condition are in pain. In the US, this disease is not uncommon. One in every 360 black babies is born with this problem. Worldwide, more than 275,000 infants have sickle cell anemia.

Doctors from the Necker Children’s Hospital mentioned that there is a case that proves sickle cell anemia can be cured with gene therapy. After a trial treatment, a boy got rid of this condition. This patient took this treatment for more than 15 months when he was 13. The doctors that conducted the trial mentioned that he is well now. The boy is off his meds and he doesn’t need them anymore.

In order to treat him, doctors extracted bone marrow from the boy and they harvested stem cells. After that, the gene code was altered in order to become normal. After the doctors started administrating the trial treatment, the boy was feeling much better. He didn’t experience so much pain and he did not need blood transfusions anymore.

The doctors that made this trial treatment to treat sickle cell anemia are also preparing a treatment for thalassemia. This is another blood disorder that acts similarly to the sickle cell anemia. Doctors mentioned that they are going to continue their tests on this anemia type to see if gene therapy is the cure.

What is your opinion about this treatment? Do you think that it is effective?

Image source: Wikipedia

Bird Flu Detected in Tennessee

white chickens at a poultry farm

USDA confirmed bird flu case in Tennessee.

A strain of the highly contagious bird flu has been discovered at a commercial chicken farm in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The presence of H7 avian influenza has been confirmed by the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently confirmed the first case of H7 bird flu, also known as HPAI, in commercial poultry in 2017. The entire flock of chicken measures 73,500 specimens and it is located near the Mississippi flyway.

The chicken flock experienced increased mortality, prompting health officials to take samples, which were tested at the Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory. The final confirmation of the results took place at the APHIS National Veterinary Service Laboratories, located in Ames, Iowa. The scientists are working to isolate the virus in order to determine its “N-type”, expected to be revealed within 48 hours.

Currently, APHIS is working with local Department of Agriculture officials to develop a joint incident response. They managed to quarantine both the premises and the birds part of the affected flock. Furthermore, the grounds will be depopulated in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Agriculture officials are also making sure that the poultry farm workers from the facility are taking the proper precautions to prevent any illnesses and contain the disease without spreading. Officials reminded concerned people that cooking all poultry eggs at 165-degrees Fahrenheit kills viruses and bacteria.

Current bird flu response plans involve the joint effort of both Federal and State partners to implement additional surveillance and testing programs in the nearby areas. The USDA will make use the AI surveillance program to detect the disease in various commercial poultry facilities, as well as in live bird markets and migratory wild birds.

The bird flu virus strain can travel in wild birds without making them appear sick. Therefore, people should avoid all contact with nearby birds and especially those what look sick or died, be it poultry or wild birds. In the case of accidental contacts, people should wash their hands with soap and water, change their clothing before any other contact with domestic birds.

What do you think about the latest bird flu case in the US? Were your ever affected by such an outbreak?

Image sourcePixabay

Friendly Germs Produce Natural Antibiotics

natural antibiotics

Scientists believe that they have found a way to produce natural antibiotics by using these friendly germs.

Customized lotions that contain friendly germs might be produced in the near future. Despite the fact that it doesn’t sound like a safe thing to do, some germs can actually produce natural antibiotics. Scientists believe that they have found a way to produce natural antibiotics by using these friendly germs.

The scientists mentioned that these germs can be used to produce different creams and lotions that can treat skin problems. The leader of this study is Dr. Richard Gallo. He believes that the germs can actually help the skin defeat other bad germs.

Dr. Richard Gallo is the dermatology chairman at the University of California. He mentioned that this can be a revolution for the production of creams and lotions. In order to test the benefits of the natural antibiotics produced by the germs, he created some customized creams. He then tested them on five patients that suffered from eczema.

The results showed that the natural antibiotics that were found in the cream helped these people defeat the bad bacteria that were affecting their skin. This shows that some of the germs that we already have on our skin and in our bodies can help us.

We have trillions of microbes in our noses, in the gut, and on our skin. All of these microbes form the microbiome which is responsible for us staying healthy or becoming vulnerable to diseases. The scientists are now trying to figure out which of these microbes help us and which make us sick.

They believe that the good microbes can form these natural antibiotics that can be used in order to kill the bad, damaging microbes. The research completed by Dr. Richard Gallo shows that, in the future, we will be able to create different beauty products by using germs. These products will treat our skin disorders and problems.

The tests that were made by the doctor on animals showed that these types of natural antibiotics can be a real help in killing germs like Staphylococcus aureus. This can be a revolution for the beauty and health industry. Until then, the scientists mentioned that they need to make more test before they can know for sure that the germs are effective and safe.

What is your opinion about this study? Do you think that good germ can produce natural antibiotics?

Image source: Pixabay

Scientists Create Bulletproof Origami Shield

black origami shield

Scientists invent a lighter and more compact bulletproof origami shield.

Personal bulletproof technology, from Kevlar vests to shields, has saved a lot of lives during dangerous situations. However, in the case of shields, the major drawback was that they are compact, large, heavy and quite hard to handle adequately.

A new invention from a team of engineers from Brigham Young University, promises to address these issues with a bulletproof origami shield. The shield is as strong as Kevlar, being able to deflect most bullets shot from pistols and revolvers, while it can fold as origami paper.

According to one of the researchers involved in the design of the origami shield, professor Larry Howell, the engineers collaborated with SWAT teams, a federal special agent as well as various police officers, in order to better understand what they wanted and needed from a bulletproof shield

The main concerns of the law enforcement agents were that current shields are quite heavy, as they are made from solid steel and can weigh up to 100 pounds. Another major concern is that the cumbersome shields can only protect one person at a time.

In order to address these concerns, the scientists went on to create a lightweight shield, which was compact for increased portability and was even able to protect more agents during dangerous situations.

The new origami shield is capable of easily folding when it is not being used. This makes it much more compact than regular shields, allowing it to be easily transported and deployed where it is needed the most. A user only needs five seconds to expand the bulletproof shield which can act as a cover fire barrier for police officers. Scientists were able to cut the weight of the shields to just 55 pounds, almost half of the current solid steel ones.

The shield makes use of 12 layers of Kevlar deployed in a common creasing pattern similar to that of origami. The new invention had a remarkable efficiency which surprised even the engineers, who initially thought that shots for .44 Magnum would end up tipping over the shield, which didn’t happen.

What do you think about this new bulletproof origami shield? Do you think it will be mass deployed in various situations?

Image credit: Brigham Young University

ExoMars Mission Has Been Fully Funded

Mars lander

The upcoming ExoMars mission has been fully funded by EU officials.

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission had an uncertain fate after the test of the Schiaparelli lander ended in failure by crashing into Mars at high speed. However, it seems that the ESA managed to obtain the necessary funding for their upcoming mission.

Not many experts and scientists were expected to receive the green light to proceed with the ExoMars mission after disastrous results of the Schiaparelli module. It seems that the ministers from the European Union’s 22 member countries alongside representatives from Canada and Slovenia had more confidence in the ExoMars project. During their meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, the ministers agreed to contribute the remaining $465 million required to start the ExoMars mission.

European officials have stated in the resulting resolution from the meeting that:

“The Agency is encouraged to strive to reap the benefits expected from the significant investments made through the ExoMars program, including those earmarked for the successful completion of the second ExoMars mission.”

Besides its uncertain future, the ExoMars mission also faced a number of budget shortfalls, which the ministers agreed to fill up while reasserting their faith in agency’s capabilities and the success of the mission. The highest contributors to the mission’s funds were Italy with $182 million, followed by the UK with around $87 million.

Scientists from the ESA are now steadily preparing for the second part of ExoMars mission which involves the landing of a rover as well as a surface platform on Mars. In preparation for the 2020 mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter which was deployed in the first phase is set to act a relay module for the future spacecraft. The attention of the second phase of the mission will be on the Mars rover, which will be able to make subsurface drilling explorations in an attempt to find various traces of life.

The Agency sought funding totaling around $12 billion for a number of activities, from satellite navigation to Earth observation and rocket development. The officials from each partner country decided on allocating $10.9 billion for the ESA’s space activities in hopes of achieving their vision of a United Space in Europe, each minister declaring its support for the development of the ESA. They also extended the Europe’s participation in the ISS until 2014.

Image source: ESA

Verizon Unlimited Data Plan Will Make A Return

verizon unlimited store

Verizon will once again start offering an unlimited data plan called the Verizon Unlimited starting with February 13.

The weekend came with a surprising announcement from Verizon. This wireless network provider is reintroducing its unlimited data plan. And it will do so starting with February 13th. How will the new service be called? The Verizon Unlimited.

Verizon Communications is considered the largest wireless communications service provider in the United States. And it is also one of the biggest broadband telecommunications companies.

This Sunday, Verizon revealed some interesting news. This was released in an official statement, posted on the company’s website. And it announced the launch of the Verizon Unlimited.

This will be a new unlimited data plan. Starting with February 13, the company will start offering it as an introductory plan. In the official blog post, the company revealed some details about the new data plan.

As such, Verizon Unlimited should offer access to one of the best 4G LTE networks. It will also be providing HD video streaming options. And also Mobile Hotspots.

Verizon Unlimited will also come with some special features for Mexico and Canada. Users will be able to call and text users in the respective countries. And also provide with 500 MB per day of 4G LTE roaming. Both these options will be readily included in the unlimited data plan. And they will not inquire an additional fee.

Verizon Unlimited will come with an introductory cost of $80. This will be the price for one line. A four-line unlimited data family plan will come with a $45 per line. Interested users will have to enable the AutoPay service. And also the paperless billing.

This new unlimited data plan will include the following options. It will offer the aforementioned Mexico and Canada services. It will also provide access to the TravelPass. Following its activation, this latter will offer 500MB LTE roaming. But it will come with an extra $10 fee.

Verizon Unlimited will be offering hotspot tethering. At 4G LTE speeds, it will be working up to 10GB. After this value is reached, users will be moved to a 3G data speeds.

Unlimited plan users will benefit from the full LTE speeds. But only until they reach a 22GB usage. After reaching this limit, their data speeds will be reduced. They will also be de-prioritized. Verizon stated that it is not expecting this de-prioritization to become a common event.

In the blog post, Verizon also points out the following. It will not be imposing the unlimited data on users that do not need it. As such, it will continue offering the 5GB L, M, and S Verizon plans.

According to the same source, Verizon has been working on improving its network. They have been trying to make it “better, faster, stronger, every single day”.

Verizon Unlimited will also support connected devices. For example, a GizmoPal or a smart watch. These can be linked to the unlimited data plan for $5 a month.

The decision to introduce this new unlimited data plan came as a surprise to some. Verizon stopped offering unlimited data plans to new users back in 2011. Though a small number of subscribers held on to the “grandfather” unlimited data plan. Although the company seems to have been trying to transition them to other plans.

Verizon Unlimited will start being available this Monday. The duration of this “introductory plan” offer was not revealed. As such, interested users should look into the matter.

Image Source: Flickr

Blood Test Facilitates Parkinson Diagnosis

two blood vials

Study finds that a blood test is accurate in diagnosing Parkinson’s

A new study has found that just a simple blood test could be as efficient and accurate as a spinal fluid test for determining whether a personal actually has Parkinson’s or if its symptoms are caused by a related disorder.

The study, published in the journal Neurology released by the American Academy of Neurology, reveals that difficulties of differentiating between Parkinson’s disease and other similar disorders, at the early stage of the disease, as most symptoms tend to overlap.

Diagnosing the disease early is important as a benefit of treatment can vary dramatically depending on the stage of the disease and between that of actual Parkinson’s or just similar disorders. However, according to the lead author of the study, Dr. Oskar Hansson, from the Lund University, Sweden, diagnosing Parkinson’s disease can become much easier than it is currently being done today.

The researchers found the different concentrations of nerve protein in a patient’s blood can easily discriminate between the different neurological disorders. Furthermore, a simple blood test also provides the same accuracy as a spinal fluid test.  The nerve protein in question is known as neurofilament light chain protein. It acts as a component of nerve cells and can also be found in both the spinal fluid and the blood stream.

For their study, the researchers analyzed more than 500 people from three different study groups.  Two of the three groups involved people from England and Sweden who had lived with Parkinson’s or other atypical parkinsonism disorders (APD) for an average time of four to six years. The last group had people who suffered from either type of disease for just three years or less.

Among the overall number of patients, 244 had Parkinson’s, 88 suffered from multiple system atrophy, 79 were healthy and served as a control group, 70 were affected by progressive supranuclear palsy, and 23 had corticobasal degeneration.

After extensive analysis, the researchers found a simple blood test was just as accurate in detecting the specific disorder as a spinal fluid test. This new method can help doctors provide a more comprehensive diagnostic to their patients.

What do you think about the new study? Do you know anyone suffering from Parkinson’s or any other APD disease?

Image sourceFlickr

Scientists Create a Bat Bot

B2 bat bot

B2 bat bot replicated the flight mechanism of real bats.

Bats are fascinating creatures for scientists for several reasons, from the way they navigate the world around them to their flight mechanisms. Now, researchers were able to create a robot that simulates the key flight aspects of bats.

The bat bot has been officially dubbed as B2 and was developed by scientists from CalTech and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. The B2 bat bot features soft and articulated wings that are able to replicate the basic function of biological bats.

According to Alireza Ramezani, a researcher from the University of Illinois, the invention has successfully demonstrated the advanced design of a self-contained aerial robot which is able to fly not through propellers or engines but using flapping wings, that is also able to fly autonomously.

The design of the wings is very similar to that of the bats featuring wing conformations and dynamic wing articulations while weighing just 93 grams.

Researchers stated the biological bat has a flight mechanism which involves over 40 types of joints. These joints interlock the bones and various muscles with one another and lead to the creation of a musculoskeletal system which can change its shape and allows the bat to move in a number of independent directions.

The scientists were able to reduce the number of joints to nine in the bat bot, while still maintaining the same basic function as that of the biological bat. More specifically, the B2 robot uses a skeleton array capable of morphing thanks its silicone-based membrane skin. The bat bot changes its articulated structure even in mid-flight, without even losing the smooth and effective aerodynamic surface.

This function is quite similar to that of real bats whose wings act like a rubber sheet when they flap. The “sheet” fills up with air and starts to slightly deform, which at the end of its downstroke motion flap, the wing is able to push out the air as it springs back into its initial position. This mechanism is what amplifies the potential of flexible membranes.

The researchers believe that their bat bot can also be used to contribute to several biological studies on the mechanisms of bat flight. The robot can reconstruct several of the maneuvers performed by bats just by applying a few movement patterns.

The study detailing the invention of the B2 bat bot was published in the AAAS Science Robotics journal.

Image credit: Alireza Ramezani, Soon-Jo Chung, Seth Hutchinson

Conversation Emotions Will Be Easier To Read Thanks To An App

people conversation emotions

A team of MIT scientists has developed an app which could make it easier to read the conversation emotions.

A team of MIT scientists has developed an app which could make it easier to read the conversation emotions. This could help people determine if the speaker is actually excited.

Most anyone must have been in the following situation. You are talking with someone. And they are telling you a sad story. Or, on the contrary, a happy one. But some people may make you wonder. Are they actually happy or sad? Now, a team of scientists may have just offered a solution.

The research team comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT. They are part of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory or CSAIL. They have been involved in an ongoing study.

This targets the study of emotion detection. The scientists have already released studies on the matter. And they also presented some of their developed devices. For example, last fall, they built a new device. This was able to detect human emotions. How? By using wireless signals.

Now, the team took the device one step further. Earlier this week, they presented a software that can detect conversation emotions. This was incorporated into an app. One targeted specifically for wearables.

It should be able to follow a conversation. And as such, identify the emotions behind the dialog. This conversation emotions tool should work for every part of the speech.

During testing, the researchers incorporated the app into a fitness tracker. It should be able to offer information in real time. The app works as follows. During conversations, it collects speech data. And also physical information. It then analyzes the overall tone.

Based on these elements, it should provide the conversation emotions result. And it can also offer part specific information. It can be used to determine if one was sad or another happy.

This app will track the emotions in five-second intervals. As such, it can also track and point out changes. It can determine if the person had a change of tone.

The analyzed physical change will be targeting the following. They will be monitoring the participant’s skin temperature. And also their heart rate or physical movement. Waving or crossing your arms are considered tell-tale signs.

This new app is AI-powered. The AI or artificial intelligence makes use of neural networks. These can analyze and compare huge amounts of data. And they can also acquire need data. By learning, such technology should also become “smarter”. And also offer better results.

The researchers also carried out some field tests. They asked the participants to wear a Simband. Their conversation emotion app had been previously installed. Overall results reported the following. The neural networks were 83 percent accurate in reporting the conversation’s tone.

In most cases, the AI system associated the emotion as follows. Monotonous vocals interrupted by long pauses were considered sad. Speech patterns that varied were considered happy. These are just a few, base emotions.

Research is hoping to further develop the emotions spectrum. They are hoping to add more complex, nuanced feelings. More details about the current software were offered in a study paper. This was released on February 01 by CSAIL. The paper was titled as follows. “Predicting Latent Narrative Mood using Audio and Physiologic Data”.

Research on the matter will continue. According to one of the study members, such an app could have varied uses. It could help people with anxiety. Or even persons diagnosed with medical conditions such as Asperger’s.

Image Source: Wikimedia