Oil and Gas Development Linked to Childhood Leukemia

oil and gas well

Childhood leukemia has been linked with nearby oil and gas wells.

Everybody is aware of the fact that the development of oil and gas is bad for the environment, but a new study has linked the industry with the increased rates of childhood leukemia in communities nearby the development zones.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado, Anschutz. The scientists revealed that kids who suffer from acute lymphocytic leukemia are more likely to live near an oil and gas development zone. No link has been found between these industrial areas and kids suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

According to Dr. Lisa McKenzie, an assistant research professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, more than 378,000 Colorado residents and several million American currently live at least within a mile of one or more oil and gas development zones.  It’s worth noting that at this point in their research, scientist only found an association between the two factors and not a direct cause of the childhood leukemia.

In this regard, further research is required in order to address the various limitations of the current study as well as better explain its results. The study was funded by the University of Colorado’s Cancer Center, and it was published in PLOS ONE journal.

The study reveals that children as well as young adults, with ages from 5 to 24 years, who suffered from acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 more likely to reside in some of the densest oil and gas development zones in the state, compared to individuals with other forms of cancer. The study mostly focused on the rural areas and towns of Colorado, from 57 different counties in the state. Any urban areas with a population exceeding 50,000 people were excluded from the study.

The latest report reveals that more than 15 million Americans across the country live within a mile of gas and oil well. In Colorado’s most intensive development zones, there are hundreds of wells within just a mile of a home. Furthermore, besides the risk of developing leukemia, residents also risk other health effects from being exposed to industrial development.

The researchers used data from both the Colorado Oil and Gas Information System and the Colorado Central Cancer Registry.

Image sourceWikipedia

Dutch Town Installs LED Crosswalk for Distracted Pedestrians

women crossing the street

A Dutch town installed an LED crosswalk for smartphone-distracted pedestrians.

As incredible as the functions of a smartphone are, enabling people to access the entire collective knowledge of our civilization and keeping in contact with anyone instantly, there are some drawbacks to the technology when we get too absorbed it. Some situations like using a smartphone on a crowded street can pose dangers to other not just to yourself.

In order to prevent similar situations, like when people too absorbed by their phone forget to check the traffic when crossing the street, a town in Netherlands has installed a LED crosswalk in sidewalks near intersections, in order to alert them whether it is safe or not to cross the street.

This is the first trial for the LED crosswalk, which was developed by a local company called HIG Traffic System. The LED device is connected to the nearby traffic light system and it’s able to shift colors, from red to green, as a way to signal the distracted pedestrians on when it is safe to cross the street.

The LED crosswalk installed in Bodegranve has been dubbed “+Lightline”, and face some opposition from the country’s VVN organization for road safety. A spokesperson for VVN describes the system as a reward for those engaging in unsafe behavior.

However, the National Safety Council has reported that incidents involving pedestrians distracted by their phones led to more than 11,000 injuries in just the United States alone, between 2000 and 2011. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has estimated the number of injuries doubled by 2004, and that while most people are aware of the dangers posed by this behavior, they continue as they overestimate their capacity to multitask.

Therefore, in the absence of any meaningful programs meant to change the behavior of pedestrians, systems like the LED crosswalk may be the only way to prevent a further increase in accidents.  An AAOS study found that people with ages between 18 to 34 were least likely to suffer injuries from this type of behavior, and that texting and walking is what compromises our abilities the most.

What do you think about the LED crosswalk? Do you use your smartphone often while walking or crossing the street?

Image sourceFlickr

Scientists Reveals New Bipedal Robot

bipedal robot with man

Agility Robotics unveiled its new bipedal robot.

On one hand, artificial intelligence research has grown substantially over the last few years with numerous improvements made in the field, robotics, on the other hand, has not seen as many breakthroughs. Most humanoid robots are still quite weird, and their movements are not near as efficient as our biological bodies.

However, a team of researchers from Agility Robotics, hope to address this situation. They have developed a bipedal robot known by the name of Cassie, which they have revealed during one of the company’s routine tests.

Agility Robotics is the company that emerged from the ATRIAS project started by the Oregon State University. Its purpose is to create robots able to walk just like humans by focusing on legged locomotion. Their overall goal has a number of applications, but it is still quite far from becoming a reality.

Their most advanced work seems to be Cassie, which was built over a period of 16 months, thanks to a $1 million grant issued by DARPA, (Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency). Despite the hopes of developing humanoid locomotion, Cassie’s design was inspired by animal behavior and morphology as it looks like the legs of a dinosaur such as a raptor.

Cassie’s legs include a hip joint with three degrees of freedom as well as flexible ankle joints, similar to that of a human’s legs. The company’s new bipedal robot is not just able to stand or walk, but even squat and balances itself. It not fragile enough to break even if somehow falls, much like other bipedal robots which even have trouble walking in a straight line.

This type of bipedal robot design could be helpful in a wide range of situations, from assisting soldiers in the field, or in emergency services like search and rescue missions. It can even be used in delivery services with the added benefit of being able to access locations where current wheeled robots or other devices can’t go.

A commercial version of Cassie will be available this month, which will soon receive several additions like arms and more advanced sensors in order to develop its autonomous capacities. Nonetheless, a lot of research is still required to reach the goal of robotic automation similar to that of humans.

Image source: Oregon State University

Google Cloud Search Is The Latest G Guite Search Engine

google cloud search

The Google Cloud Search will be a new search tool, available and including all the G Suite products.

February 07 saw the release of the Google Cloud Search. This will be a new search tool, available and including all the G Suite products.

Google was quite busy over these past few days. Just recently, it announced a series of product updates. And today, it also launched a new or perhaps upgraded tool. On Tuesday, the Internet giant company released the Google Cloud Search.

This new tool will especially target the company’s business customers. And is based on Springboard. Google Cloud Search offers almost the same services as this latter. But at the same time, it is publicly available.

Springboard was described as a sort of Google Now. Also targeting enterprise workers, it only saw a limited preview release. Presently, Google took Springboard and developed it into the Google Cloud Search.

Google announced the release of its newest tool through a blog post. This was posted on the official company site. And it went to offer some details about the Google Cloud Search.

According to the post, Google Cloud Search should offer a smart business solution. It makes use of the best Google Search features. And then combines them with machine learning. As such, it should offer the best results across the G Suite products.

Google Cloud Search was designed to provide two important elements. It should offer a comprehensive search throughout the various services. And at the same time, it can also offer proactive recommendations. Both factors should help the client throughout the day.

Google Cloud Search will work across all the G Suite services. These include products such as the Gmail or Drive. And also Docs, Calendar, and others.

The new search tool was specifically designed for larger companies. It can be accessed by both individuals and various groups as their search for files in their networks. Nonetheless, Cloud Search will respect the file-sharing permission. As such, a user will only have access to the files to which they were granted permission.

Google Cloud Search will also work as a directory service. This means that a user will be able to view and search for various information on their colleagues. For example, they could search for their contact information. Or they could preview if they share files or events.

Based on this colleague search, the user will also have various contact options. They can choose to send them an email. Or perhaps even a Hangout request or direct phone call.

Cloud Search will have a card-style design. This will present the request information. And it will retain the format, no matter the device type. The tool will also employ machine intelligence. With time, it will start highlighting information. This will be selected in accordance with the user’s previous interests.

Such information will be presented through “assist cards”. As they are based on machine learning, they should also start getting more accurate as the user makes use of them.

Google Cloud Search will also pop up various things. For example, it will offer meeting reminders. Or pull up recently accessed files or notes.

Cloud Search is being rolled out across the G Suite Enterprise and Business editions. Registered users should be able to access it over the following days. Google also announced some of its future plans for the tool. Google Cloud Search could be getting third-party app support. And it may also gain other features over time.

Image Search: Flickr

Study Finds Pet Medications Dangerous for Kids

white pet dog

Pet medications pose a danger to children under five years old.

Most parents of young children are aware of the need to store the various household cleaners and medicines out of the reach of their kids. However, a new study has found that pet medications can also pose a danger to small children.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that around 88 percent of all situations of poisoning with pet medications involves children at the age of five years old or under. The study also found that around one if four cases of poisoning with pet medications happened while a member of the household tried to give the corresponding medicine to the family pet.

According to Kristin Roberts, the co-author of the study, the poisoning in these situations happen mostly due to the fact that the pet spit the medicine and the children ate it, or if the drugs were mixed in other foods like hot dogs or cheese and the kids ate it by accident.

Roberts and her colleagues from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital from Columbus Ohio, recommend to parents that the best safety measure is to store the pet medications out of the reach of children and making sure that the kids are not in the same room as when you administer the drugs to the pet.

For their study, the researchers analyzed the data of more than 1,431 pet medication poisoning cases in Ohio between 1999 and 2013. They found that the vast majority of the calls, 88 percent, were related to medications for dogs, while in the 93 percent of all cases, the children either ate or drank the pet medications. Other 2.3 percent of cases involved children who had eye contact with the medication and 1.1 percent involved skin exposure.

Most of the poisoning cases happened at home and could be treated without a visit to the family’s health care provider. Just 6 percent of cases were treated at a health facility. Among those cases, 60 percent of them were evaluated, treated and the kids released.

The study was limited, as it was performed with data from only one poison center and poison specialist did not always consistently record the source of the poisoning.

Image source: Max Pixel

Only 30 Specimens Left of the Vaquita Marine Mammal

vaquita marine mammal

The world’s smallest marine mammal has only 30 specimens left.

Vaquita is the world’s smallest porpoise marine mammal and despite the best efforts of international conservation and local conservation groups, the species is almost close to extinction. Experts from the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, think that its number have decreased to just 30 specimens.

The most significant decrease in the numbers of the marine mammal occurred between 2015 and 2016, almost by 50 percent. This number goes up to a 90 percent drop over the past five years. Conservations stated that the main threat to their existence are gill nets. These types of nets are mostly used to capture fish and shrimp, as well as the endangered totoaba fish. The swim bladder of this marine animals is considered a delicacy in several parts of Asia and thus sells accordingly, with around $5,000 for just a pound.

Although the vaquita is not directly targeted, the marine mammal gets entangled in the growing number of nets meant for the totoaba and eventually drowns. According to the latest CIRVA report published in November, the situation has gradually gotten worse for the world’s smallest marine mammal despite the existing measure for its protection and enforcement efforts.

The vaquitas are the only species of porpoise to live in the warm waters of the Gulf of California. In response to the situation of the animal, both the U.S. and the Mexican government have increased their efforts to combat illegal fishing in the area including Navy patrols and temporarily banning the use of gill nets in the waters of the vaquita.

Mexican conservation officials hope to save the endangered marine mammal by capturing several specimens and transporting them to a protected area where they can breed in safety. This plan will involve experts in acoustic monitoring and in the capture of porpoise. The trained dolphins of the US Navy will also be involved in this preservation effort.

Unfortunately, the plan does carry some inherent risks as the animals have never been kept in captivity and some believe that they will die during the relocation attempt. Groups like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have urged the Mexican government to reconsiders its strategy.

Image sourceFlickr

Antibody Combination Is Effective in Suppressing HIV

HIV virus

Researchers created an antibody combination for suppressing the HIV virus.

HIV infections have seen a drastic increase in several countries like South Africa, where the epidemic is out of control. However, a new study reveals that a combination of three antibody drugs is effective in suppressing the HIV virus.

Researchers from the Rockefeller University published their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine. They revealed that when the antibody combination is administered in the HIV patient, the virus eventually dies despite its ability to mutate and becoming hard to eliminate.

Antiretroviral drug treatments have been essential in suppressing the HIV virus from developing into AIDS. Without these types of treatments, the body of the infected patient tends to eventually lose the power to control the virus.

Other promising HIV treatments resulted mostly in failure due to the fact that the virus mutates and escapes the grasp of the immune system. However, the new antibody combination treatment claims to actually trap the virus for good.

For their study, the researchers administered HIV-infected mice a combination of three antibodies. They discovered that the treatment leads to the complete suppression of the HIV virus in the respective mice. The study was performed at the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at The Rockefeller University.

The researchers developed the antibody combination treatment by administering BG18, BG1, and NC37 antibodies to the mice. The combined drug attaches itself to a part of the virus and each antibody supports the other in the endeavor to shut down the HIV virus.

According to the scientists, some HIV-infected people produce the three antibodies, but eventually, the virus manages to escape thanks to its mutation. The researchers then compared the association between the antibodies and the virus. The newly developed antibody combination determines the virus to mutate and escape but after several such attempts, the virus runs out of options and it is eventually shut down.

For their study, the researchers used the blood serum of a man who contracted HIV 30 years ago, to create the antibodies used in their experiment.

What do you think about this new antibody combination treatment? Do you know anyone infected with HIV? What treatments do they undergo to suppress the virus?

Image sourceWikimedia

Google Chromebooks Are More Useful for Schools

Google Chromebooks

Google Chromebooks have now more functionality for students and teachers.

During the Bett education technology conference held in London, Google was present to make several announcements regarding its Chromebook program. More specifically, how Google Chromebooks have made a difference in the lives of students and teachers and how can they even become more useful in the future.

Google was quick to emphasize the fact that around 20 million teachers and students around the world use Google Chromebooks at least weekly. Furthermore, the G Suite for Education program has over 70 million worldwide. However, the most noteworthy aspect of the presentation was the showcasing of two new Google Chromebooks, the Asus Chromebook C213 and Acer Chromebook Spin 11.

Furthermore, Google has also announced that in the near future, they will give system admins full control over all the Android apps which run on the Google Chromebooks given to students. Adobe also revealed that it will release a new series of creative apps optimized for all Chromebook laptops.

With these announcements, Google tries to build to capitalize on the early success of their laptops for students and teachers. Since the release of Android apps on the Google’s Chrome OS, Chromebooks have transformed from niche devices to versatile laptops.

Both of the upcoming Google Chromebooks from Asus and Acer will include support for a stylus pen, USB-C charging systems, as well as world-facing cameras. This type of camera is quite useful especially for convertible laptops since it can act as the camera on the back of a regular tablet, unlike current convertible which only has a user-oriented camera.

As they are mostly meant for schools, the upcoming Google Chromebooks are not breaking any new ground in terms of hardware. However, the Acer Spin model will have either a dual or quad-core Intel Celeron CPU with 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and up to 64 GB of eMMC flash storage. Asus did not yet provide any specs for its upcoming device.

Nonetheless, both devices are built quite sturdy and can survive falls from up to 48 inches, and can handle a few spills. The upcoming Google Chromebooks have not yet been priced at the moment, but they will be available in the late days of spring.

What do you think about Google’s announcements?

Image sourceWikimedia

Using Sunscreen Is Better Than a Beach Umbrella

beach umbrella

Study found that sunscreen is better than a beach umbrella at preventing sunburns.

Nothing compares to a relaxing day at the beach, but as with any activity, there are some dangers which can be easily avoided. In the case of the beach experience, it is the sunburn, which many prefer to either prevent by bringing a beach umbrella or sunscreen.

However, not much information was available regarding the best way to prevent a sunburn or any conditions caused by long exposures to high temperatures and sunlight. Therefore, researchers have conducted a study which showed the sitting under a beach umbrella does not have as many benefits as using sunscreen.

For their study, the researchers recruited 81 people with fair skin. All the participants were required to sit in the midday sun at the beach in Lake Lewisville, Texas for three and a half hours in August 2014. The researchers randomly assigned each participant to either use an SPF 100 sunscreen or a standard-sized beach umbrella.

After the experiment was concluded, the researchers analyzed a number of sunburns the participants in both groups experienced. They found that 78 percent of the participants who used the beach umbrella to protect themselves from the sun were sunburned the following day. However, only 25 percent of sunscreen users were affected by sunburns. More specifically, the researchers found 142 areas with sunburn on 41 people who used the umbrella, while among those who used the sunscreen, the researchers found only 17 such areas.

The findings of the study were published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, by a team of researchers led by Dr. Hao Ou-Yang, and was partly funded, Johnson and Johnson. In the study, the researchers explain that the beach umbrella was designed as a way to prevent contact with direct rays from the sun. However, they are unable to protect its users from scattered rays.

Although the study found that SPF 100 sunscreen is more efficient in preventing sunburns than the beach umbrella, while allowing greater freedom for the user, neither method is 100 percent effective in preventing sunburns in all users. Therefore, it is best to use a combination of preventative factors like protective clothing, as well as sunscreen.

What do you think about the study’s results? Do you get sunburnt easily?

Image sourceWikimedia

Company Claims to Combat Aging by Injecting You with Young Blood

syringe with blood

Ambrosia claims to combat aging with young blood transfusions.

There are many people who are trying every method they can to avoid aging instead of accepting as a natural process. While the genuine science is still far away from preventing our eventual aging and decay, there are several companies which claim to have the solution to aging. One such company will inject you with the blood of young people as a way to slow the aging process.

Although all previous attempts at proclaiming the discovery of the fountain of youth were dismissed by scientists, this doesn’t stop new companies or individuals with coming up with all sorts of ideas on how to combat aging. One of the most recent endeavors against old age comes from a startup company named Ambrosia based in Monterey, California.

The company is named after the food of the Greek gods believed to bestow immortality. In a similar manner, the company claims to combat aging by injecting old people with young blood collected from teenagers or young adults for the sum of $8,000.

According to the company’s CEO, Jesse Karmazin, the inspiration for this idea came from studies which showed that old mice that were sewn with younger price in a process known as parabiosis, leads to some reverse aging effects. Other studies performed on mice also showed an increase in neuron growth or improved memory after 10 transfusions of young blood from other mice.

By December 15, 2016, Ambrosia completed trial tests on 25 participants infusing them with young blood. The company claims that the participants saw improvements in the state, as they felt healthier and younger, which are questionable results as they have not been under proper scientific review and their reported states may be caused by the placebo effect.

Now, the company seeks to enroll up to 600 more participants for a clinical trial. The study will consist in the administration of a one-time transfusion of young blood. More specifically a two-liter bag of plasma, which has had the blood cells removed. The blood was collected from people with ages between 16 to 25 years old.

Scientists have expressed their doubts and strong skepticism about the company’s claims as they have warned would-be participants about the lack of scientific evidence about how young blood can combat aging.

Image sourcePixabay