Chance Find Leads To New Data On Hair Loss

hair loss

A chance discovery may offer new insight into the process that leads to hair loss or graying.

Recently, the Internet was flooded with headlines about a “new cure for baldness.” While a new discovery from the University of Texas won’t immediately cure baldness, it does offer some insight into the process behind hair loss.

Scientists at the UT Southwestern Medical Center recently set out to uncover the process of how certain tumors form. Instead, they found something completely different: the cells that directly form hair and also the mechanism behind hair graying and baldness.

New Insight Into Hair Loss

The study was an animal research project into a rare genetic disease called neurofibromatosis. This causes tumors to grow on nerves. When the researchers genetically engineered mice for their experiment, they noted that some lost all their hair color. The team then decided to take a close look at how they had triggered the change.

It was already known that stem cells in the bulge area of hair follicles could help make hair. They also produce a protein called SCF or stem cell factor, which influences hair pigmentation.

This new research reveals what happens after those stem cells move up the hair follicle, to the base. It also demonstrated that the same cells that make SCF produce the protein KROX20.

In mice, cells with both SCF and KROX20 move up, interact with the cells that produce pigment or melanocytes and then grow into pigmented hair. However, when the researchers deleted the SCF gene, the hair would turn gray, then white. As the KROX20-producing cells were removed, this resulted in hair loss.

This research was carried out in mice, but the findings might apply to humans as well. The next step for the researcher team is investigating whether the SCF gene and the production of KROX20 stop working as people age.

They already predicted that these factors may lead to hair loss or graying. Possibly, they may even result in male pattern baldness. Since changes in the hair are seen as the first signs of aging, future research in this area may one day provide insight into the aging process in general.

Image Source: Pixabay

New Study Offers A Rank Of The Effects Of An Asteroid Strike

asteroid strike

Researchers studied the potential effects of an asteroid strike and its consequences on Earth.

A new study from University of Southampton researchers put together the potential scenarios for an asteroid strike and how it would affect the planet Earth. They then proceeded to rank those situations in terms of human loss. The picture their information painted was not a pretty one.

University Study Ranks Asteroid Strike Calamities Based On 50,000 Simulations

The research team based its study on a supercomputer. This analyzed over fifty thousand asteroid impact simulations on Earth. They used many different sizes for the objects, ranging from 15 to 400 meters. Also, they tested different angles and trajectories. The simulations also had the objects strike both land and water. From there, they determined the destructive consequences to both people and cities.They found seven major effects that would cause the most destruction. These are wind blasts, shockwaves, cratering, tsunamis, heat, flying debris, and seismic activity. As one would expect, they found land impacts to be the most devastating, gaining the highest place in their system.

Almost sixty percent of the total deaths would be due to the wind blasts and shockwaves, which could be strong enough to damage internal organs and knock down buildings. Thirty percent would be due to the tremendous heat created by the friction of the impact, especially if it strikes land. Tsunamis would lead to around a twenty percent mortality rate, with the remainder split among the other effects.Of course, the results varied widely depending on the many variables. The size of the object seems to be the most important factor, followed by the location of the impact. For a potentially lethal effect, an asteroid would seemingly have to be at least eighteen meters in diameter. Most smaller objects crumble and burn as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

The researchers reminded everyone that the odds of such an asteroid strike are extremely small. These studies are often done for preparedness in case such a rare occurrence should happen. And astronomers are always on the watch.

“The likelihood of an asteroid impact is really low, but the consequences can be unimaginable.” This is according to the study lead, Clemens M. Rumpf.
Image Source: Flickr

Peggy Whitson Will Spend An Additional 3 Months Up In Space

peggy whitson

NASA announced earlier this week that Peggy Whitson will be spending three more months in space.

NASA announced earlier this week that Peggy Whitson, the famed female astronaut, has decided to extend her time in space. By doing so, she will be breaking yet another record and also bringing her contribution to Expedition 52 by rounding the mission complement.

Peggy Whitson Already Holds Several Space Records, And She Will Be Adding Even More

Presently, Peggy Whitson is the only female aboard the International Space Station or ISS. She has been there ever since November 17th, and her stay was close to coming to an end. Whitson already has over 370 days up in space under her belt.

Following her additional three months stay, she will be breaking yet another record. The astronaut will be surpassing Jeff Williams’s United States milestone of 534 cumulative days spent up in space. Whitson will also be the first woman to command the ISS twice. She was first in charge of the station back in 2008. Just recently, she also became the female astronaut to complete the most spacewalks.

Following the 3 months extension, Whitson will only return to Earth in September 2017. Her additional stay in space came as an effect of Russia’s decision to temporarily reduce its crew by 2. As such, the female astronaut will be rounding up the station’s 6-crew complement. This will help increase the general amount of time for the astronauts. During such periods, they will be able to carry out more experiments.

Whitson herself expressed her excitement at being offered the chance to extend her stay aboard the station. She stated as follows:

“Living and working aboard the space station is where I feel like I make the greatest contribution, […].”

Whitson also stated that she is trying to get the most out of her every stay up in space as she loves being there. These additional three months are reportedly just what she ‘would wish for.’

Image Source: Wikimedia

Rocky Planet Formation Found in Binary System

rocky planet in orbit

Scientists found a rocky planet orbiting two stars, similar to Tatooine.

Considering the incredible expanse of the Universe it isn’t that hard to believe that it may contain even particular system described in works of science-fiction such as the Star Wars universe’s Tatooine planet which orbits around two stars.

Scientists have recently found evidence of a rocky planet formation formed from shattered asteroids which are currently orbiting a pair of stars. This suggests that among the many possibilities of an infinite Universe, even scenarios described in fiction may very well be possible.

However, the most important aspect of the discovery is that it suggests that rocky planet formations may very well be capable of surviving the death of their own stars, according to the study’s researchers. Despite the fact that our planet only orbits one star, there many other star system home to two or more stars, orbiting each other. In fact, scientists have even discovered system with up to seven stars.

Planets like Star Wars’ Tatooine, which orbit two stars, are known as circumbinary planets. The first discovery of such a planet happened in 2011. The planet has been named Kepler-16b and it is gas giant located around 200 light-years away from Earth.

Until now, all the circumbinary planets that were discovered were found to be gas giants, and astronomers became skeptical that they would ever find a rocky planet which orbits two stars, similar to Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker lived at the start of the series.

According to Jay Farihi, the lead author of the study, and an astrophysicist at the University College London, circumbinary rocky planets seem to be incredibly rare due to the fact that the gravity of two stars would impede the various parts of dust and rock to stick together and form a planet, as they push and pull from different directions.

The scientists discovered the first circumbinary rocky planet in a star system known as SDSS 1557, which is located around 1,000 light-years away from Earth. It was first thought to only include a white dwarf, but a closer analysis revealed the existence of another star, a brown dwarf equal in mass to around 65 Jupiters.

What do you think about the discovery? Are you excited about the discovery of a planet similar to Tatooine?

Image credit: Mark Garlick, UCL, University of Warwick and University of Sheffield

Neanderthal DNA Still Affects Modern People

a neanderthal man

Neanderthal DNA still affects the traits of modern humans.

When scientists analyzed our entire genetic history, they found remnants of Neanderthal DNA. Now, a new study reveals that those genes still affects modern people in regards to their appearance and health. While Neanderthals are believed to have died out more than 40,000 years ago, it seems that they still make their presence felt today.

Remnants of Neanderthal DNA can still be found in our genes due to the fact that our ancestors had mated with the less-evolved species, and thus passed their genes further down to the next generations. Now, researchers from the United States have shed some light on how their genes still affect modern people.

According to Joshua Akey, a co-author of the study and a geneticist at the University of Washington stated that the ancient DNA influence several traits of modern humans such as height and the chance of suffering from diseases like schizophrenia and lupus. The impact of the Neanderthal DNA is still considerable despite the fact that the last human-Neanderthal mating like occurred more than 50,000 years ago.

Previous studies have shown that the Neanderthal genetic variants are linked to vulnerabilities to several conditions. However, the mechanisms which caused those effects still eludes scientists. Therefore, the team of researchers started to collect data from the Genotype-Tissues Expression Project, which analyzed people who carry both the modern and the Neanderthal version of a gene.

Using this data, the scientists were able to create a clearer picture and better understand how the Neanderthal genes affect the traits of modern humans, in a quite pervasive and important way. For example, the Neanderthal version of the gene known as ADAMTSL3 is tied to both schizophrenia and height. The study found that, overall, causal mutation and the way in which genes are turned on or off in humans today, have been inherited from Neanderthals.

The study, published in the journal Cell, emphasizes the fact that the interbreeding with the Neanderthals still remains a source of worry for modern humans as it leads to a greater genomic complexity. The researchers also want to examine how other hominid species like the Denisovans contribute to our genetic makeup.

What do you think about the study’s findings?

Image sourceFlickr

Record Number Of Manatees Might Make Them Lose Endangered Status

manatees endangered status

Manatees might lose their endangered status.

Manatees are listed as endangered and this might change in a few weeks. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is going to decide whether or not the manatees are going to remain listed as endangered. The service is planning on listing the manatees as threatened.

The agency wants to list the animal as threatened due to the fact that it started to recover. The number of manatees in Florida has reached a new record. There are more than 6,000 specimens. Until now, in Florida, there were 3,400 specimens.

This record number of manatees has been seen for the last 3 years. This means that the manatees are recovering and that the endangered status is too much for them. This means that the decision to list them as threatened is better for their recovery.

Despite the fact that this is a sign of recovery, the manatees should be watched and protected at all times. The number of manatees in Florida is affected by the cold waters in the winter and by motorboats that are found along the coastlines. In order to increase the number of manatees, Florida invests $2 million every year.

The Endangered Species List uses the endangered status for species that are facing extinction. The threatened status is used for animals that are likely to become endangered in the future. Many people believe that the manatees should maintain the same status, despite their numbers increasing. They believe that the species is not recovered and that they need more time before their status can be changed.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned that there are limited resources and that is why they have to focus on the animals that are considered endangered. When there are too many animals with this status, they can’t help them all. They have to list the manatees as threatened because they have recovered enough for the moment.

The agency also mentioned that this does not mean that the manatees will lose their protection. They are still going to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. We’ll just have to wait and see what the US Fish and Wildlife Service decides.

Do you think that the manatees should be listed as threatened? Do you think that they are recovered?

Image source: Pixabay

Microsoft’s HoloLens Headset May Launch in 2019

Microsoft's HoloLens Headset

The HoloLens headset V3 may launch in 2019.

Ever since Microsoft has unveiled its augmented reality headset, many people were eager to get their hands on it. However, despite the fact that Microsoft decided to release the developer version of the HoloLens headset back in March 2016, the price tag of $3,000, meant that it wasn’t readily available for the vast majority of interested customers.

The latest report involving Microsoft’s AR device involves its plans to skip the second version and go straight into the development of the third, which may be the final consumer version and may be launched in 2019.

The news involving Microsoft’s plan for the HoloLens headset were revealed by a report from Thurrott, citing reliable sources close to the company’s project. This news fits well with other previous reports which claimed that Microsoft has decided to change its initial planned roadmap for the release of the AR headset. This means that the company has canceled the second version of the headset, and instead focusing on the development of the HoloLens headset V3, which may very well be the consumer-ready version.

Skipping the second version of the headset means that Microsoft can accelerate the process behind the V3, as the company comes closer to a generational leap as a way to stay ahead of its competitors. The fact that the HoloLens headset may launch in 2019 at the earliest is sure to disappoint some fans, who were eagerly waiting for the device but either could not afford the developer version or they saw no point in buying it without any adequate content.

However, Microsoft now has enough time to make sure that the HoloLens will meet the expectation of the fans. Furthermore, the V3 headset means that Microsoft has vastly improved the experience provided by the first generation of the device.

When Microsoft decided to sell the developer version of the HoloLens headset back in 2016, they only managed to sell several thousand. However, considering the price and the fact that it wasn’t a device meant for the mass market, Microsoft is not too disappointed about the sales number.

What do you think about the HoloLens headset? Do you prefer full virtual reality over augmented reality?

Image sourceWikipedia

Atomico Raises $765 Million Fund

Niklas Zennstrom

Atomico concluded its fourth round of raising funds with $765 million.

Atomico has revealed that it has closed its fourth round of raising funds after managing to gather $765 million, which is among the highest venture capital funds in Europe. The company initially started its latest round almost one year ago, revealed through its SEC filings.

The $765 fund is a significant increase over its third fund round which only managed to raise $476 million back in 2013. What is particularly interesting with its very successful fundraising round is that it highlights a key difference between European companies and those in the US, where limited partnership firms are often pressured in committing to top funds.

Atomico’s successful round of funding was due to the stakes the company has in a number of prominent endeavors and other firms, which appealed to a lot of investors it seems. Atomico has shares in Rovio, the Finnish game developer which produced Angry Birds, Klarna, a payments company, as well as GoEuro, a travel site.

The company further benefited from a major transaction back in 2013, when Monsanto acquired Climate Corp. for around $1 billion. The following years was quite successful for Atomico again, when Supercell managed to sell a majority stake to Tencent, China, for $8.6 billion.

Mattias Ljungman, a general partner at Atomico, stated that unlike the U.S. which has a long tradition of investing in various venture capital firms, Europe is only now starting to see the appeal. However, once the benefits of investing in these firms became evident, it led to a large amount of capital being deployed, that even surpassed the US.

Atomico, which was originally founded by the co-founder of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom, has now become of the best-funded firms in Europe. The company has its central office in London but has a lot of people on the ground in major cities across the world such as New York, Beijing, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and Stockholm.

Atomico offers an extensive list of service to its portfolio companies, such as an in-house value creation team. This team includes around seven partners who mainly advise on marketing, communications, and other domains of interest. Atomico hopes to see that Europe’s venture capital reach the same breakout speed as in the US.

Image credit: Flickr

Women Tend to Skip Mammograms After False Positive Results

Nurse perfoming a mammogram

False positive mammograms leads to greater delays for the next test.

A new study has found that women suspected of having breast cancer tend to delay future mammograms after their first test was a false positive. Furthermore, some women do not even show up for their next screening, which decreases the chance of an early future diagnosis.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, was conducted on more than 261,000 women from the greater Chicago area. The study reveals that false positives have several unintended consequences which can alter the behavior of women regarding mammogram tests.

Researchers found that in the situations where women were recommended to have a test every year, those who received an initial false positive tended to delay their next test by up to 13 months, while women who had a direct negative result scheduled their next test between three to six months.

This delay could lead to reduced chances of survival if the breast cancer is subsequently diagnosed. Scientists revealed that the women who did not receive a false positive test result had a 0.3 percent of being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer tumor. However, for women with false positive tests, the chances increased to 0.4 percent.

Throughout their study, the researchers also found that some of the women never showed for their next mammogram at all. However, it is unclear whether they gave up on being tested for breast cancer or if they just received the test somewhere else.

The lead author of the study, Firas Dabbous working at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Illinois, revealed the delicate balance that is required in breast cancer diagnosis. While early detection offers the best chances of successful treatment, they also don’t want to bother women with increased number of false positive results followed by painful and expensive tests like biopsies.

In this regard, a debate has arisen whether or not the benefit of breast cancer screening outweighs the possible emotional and financial costs of the tests. A mammogram has a one in ten chance of producing a false positive result. Furthermore, an estimated 7 to 17 percent of all false positive women will end up having a biopsy.

What do you think about the study’s findings?

Image sourceWikipedia

Scientists Unveil Blueprint for Modular Quantum Computer

quantum computer

Scientists unveil blueprint for modular quantum computer

Quantum computing has long been considered to be the future of technology, but scientists were not able to reach that goal as of yet. However, an international team of researchers has unveiled their plans on how to build a large-scale quantum computer.

The team of researchers was led by scientists from the University of Sussex, who designed a blueprint for a modular quantum computer, which has the potential to be more powerful than any other system currently available. More specifically, scientists believe that quantum computing is capable of calculating processes millions of times faster than current computer technology.

However, before anyone starts building the modular quantum computer, the blueprint will be analyzed by various specialists in order to determine whether it is viable or not. If so, then we could see the development of the first quantum computer in the coming decade. The scientists published their findings and the actual blueprint in the journal Science Advances.

To compile and design the blueprint, researchers from the UK, Denmark, Japan, Germany and the US have combined their efforts and resources. The result is an actual plan to create a modular quantum computer on a large, something that once was thought of as impossible.

In other quantum computer-related news, researchers have revealed their plans on how to protect future quantum computers from external hacking attacks. Despite their advanced technology, even quantum computers, which hold information in multiple states, not just 0 and 1, can be hacked, according to the researchers. To showcase their claim, the researchers actually built the first high-dimensional cloning machine which was capable of intercepting a quantum message.

In analyzing the results of their experiments, the scientists found important clues which could help protect quantum networks from potential attacks. More specifically, cloning attacks inadvertently introduce specific noises in a channel. Scientists can combat external hacks by ensuring that the more information is contained in photons and monitor those observable noises as a way to strengthen the network’s resistance to external attacks.

However, the development of the large-scale modular quantum computer and securing its quantum networks will not be available anytime soon, if at all, depending on how viable the blueprint is.

Image creditWikimedia