Dec 26, 2014 Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times

Astronomers searching the sky with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an odd little dwarf galaxy in our very own backyard — a mere 7 million light years away.

The findings, described in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, add a new member to the more than 50 galaxies in our Local Group (part of the Laniakea supercluster), which includes Andromeda and our own Milky Way.

While only just recently discovered using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, the galaxy known as KKs3 has been around a long while. Astronomers led by Igor Karachentsev of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia, showed that some 74 percent of KKs3’s star mass was formed in the universe’s early years, at least 12 billion years ago. Most of the tiny galaxy’s stars are old and dim, making it a fascinating fossil that could help astronomers understand what ancient galactic environments looked like.

Carrying just 23 million solar masses’ worth of star-stuff, KKs3 holds just one ten-thousandth of the stellar mass of the Milky Way. As a dwarf spheroidal galaxy, it lacks any distinctive spiral arms.

The dwarf spheroidal galaxies that are found near massive galaxies are typically poor in gas and dust, because they’ve been stripped out by the gravitational pull of their much more massive neighbors (such as the Andromeda galaxy).

But KKs3 is far away from the thieving gravitational tug of a neighboring galaxy — and yet, for some reason, it also seems to be missing hydrogen gas. KKs3, in that way, is a much rarer breed, called an isolated dwarf spheroidal galaxy.

These isolated dwarf spheroidal galaxies are really hard to find, in part because they’re missing those telltale nebulae full of hydrogen gas that could have helped feed star formation. In fact, the only other one found in the Local Group, KKR 25, was found by the same research group way back in 1999.

KKs3 seems to have an interesting life history that could shed light on the strange processes that formed it. Though most of its stars are 12 billion years old or older, there appear to have been two smaller periods of star-formation around 5 billion years ago and even more recently, around 2 billion years ago or less.

Given that these isolated dwarf spheroidal galaxies are so hard to find, there could be many more of these fascinating galactic fossils just hanging out in the darkness of our own intergalactic neighborhood, just waiting to be found, the authors wrote.

"Since the detection of such objects is difficult, the number of them within (32.6 million light years) may be considerable," the study authors wrote.

Future space telescopes, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope set for launch in 2018, could help hunt down more of these mysterious objects in the heavens.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 December 31

2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Scent Recognition of Infected Status in Humans.

“Introduction. There is a body of experimental evidence that mice and rats use chemical signals to avoid sexual contact with infected conspecifics. In contrast to animals, body scent of sick humans is employed only in medical diagnostics. A modification of human body odor, due to an infection, has not been studied as a potential signal for choice of a sexual partner. It might, however, be especially important for sexually transmitted infections (STI) because many such infections have no obvious external manifestations. Aim. In this study, we have investigated odor pleasantness of young men infected with gonorrhea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Methods. We collected armpit sweat and saliva from young men (17-25 years old) belonging to three groups: healthy persons (N = 16), young men infected with gonorrhea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N = 13), and persons recovered due to specific therapy (N = 5). The sweat samples odor was then assessed by healthy young women (17-20 years old). Concentrations of cortisol, testosterone, immunoglobulin A (IgA), and immunoglobulin G (IgG) were measured in saliva by means of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Main Outcome Measures. Subjective rates of odor pleasantness, association of scent of armpit sweat with odor descriptors, stepwise regression of odor pleasantness and salivary cortisol, testosterone, IgA, and IgG. Results. The odor from infected individuals was reported as less pleasant in comparison with the odor of healthy and recovered young men. The scent of infected men was more frequently associated by raters with the descriptor “putrid.” Odor pleasantness of the male sweat correlated negatively with concentration of the nonspecific salivary IgA and IgG, which was measured as an indicator of current immunoenhancement. Conclusion. Perhaps, the immune-dependent reduction of the scent pleasantness in the acute phase of STI is part of an evolutionary mechanism ensuring, unconsciously, avoidance of a risky romantic partner.”

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 December 14

Researchers discover mutation that spreads breast cancer


Sean D. Hamill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A team of Pittsburgh researchers has discovered a genetic mutation that aided the spread of breast cancer in a patient, an exciting discovery that may provide guidance for how to treat women with the disease in the future, according to a study announced Wednesday at a breast cancer symposium in San Antonio.

The team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the Magee-Womens Research Institute used tumor tissue samples collected over the last two decades that allowed researchers to track the spread of the disease in six patients.

All six patients had surgery to remove the initial tumor, and were determined to be disease free, only to have the cancer recur and ultimately kill them. Recurrence of breast cancer after surgery occurs in about 30 percent of patients.

While the main finding revealed Wednesday revolved around the one genetic mutation, research continues with the results of the tissue studies from the other five patients, which are also expected to provide insights into how breast cancer operates.

And though the study only involved six patients, that is five more patients than any prior study had ever been able to track by analyzing the genetic mutations of tumors over the course of the disease.

"This research represents the most comprehensive analysis to date of genomic changes that occur in breast cancer progression," the team announced in a press release.

The study’s findings are expected to spur other research facilities to use similar techniques to track mutations in patients.

"We always look at cancer as some evil thing looking to subvert our therapies, when really they’re random," Ryan Hartmaier, the lead author of the study and a research instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, said in an interview.

It is finding how common such a random mutation is that Hartmaier hopes to continue to explore in his own research, and he hopes that other research facilities will now pursue.

If this specific mutation is found to be more common, it could lead to the creation of drug therapies that address the mutation.

(c)2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at http://www.post-gazette.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 December 11

Eggnog


Eggnog

Prep: 15 min
Yield: 6 cups
Level: Easy

Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 ounces bourbon
1 1/4 ounces dark rum
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites

Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until the yolks lighten in color and the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, rum, and nutmeg and stir to combine.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

CONTAINS RAW EGGS: The Food Network Kitchen suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.


Nov 28, 2014 Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times

A gruesome series of killings has left porpoises stranded on the shores along the North Sea, and scientists now think they have a culprit: gray seals.

Turns out those adorable gray seals aren’t so cuddly after all. The findings, described in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reveal a disturbing trend that could potentially alter the ecology of harbor porpoises.

Harbor porpoises, formally known as Phocoena phocoena, have been washing up along the coasts of the southern North Sea in Europe, with deadly wounds whose origins were a mystery. Were the porpoises slashed by boat propellers? Were they bycatch victims, trapped by fishing nets and cut up by fishermen? Were the wounds the result of scavengers preying on dead or dying animals?

A disturbing explanation came to light when DNA from gray seals (known as Halichoerus grypus) was discovered in bite wounds on three mutilated harbor porpoises. But it wasn’t clear whether this was an anomaly, or a common way for the poor porpoises to meet their demise.

For the study, a team of researchers from the Netherlands analyzed photographs of 1,081 dead harbor porpoises stranded between 2003 and 2013. Of those, 271 of the animals’ corpses were fresh enough that the scientists could clearly see gray seal-related wounds on their bodies. A quarter of those showed bite and claw marks that matched the marks found on the porpoises whose wounds held gray seal DNA.

"If dead stranded and autopsied harbor porpoises are representative of porpoise deaths in the region, then gray seal attacks (more than 17 percent) together with fisheries bycatch (approximately 20 percent), infectious disease (approximately 18 percent) and emaciation (approximately 14 percent) are the most important causes of death for harbor porpoises in the southeastern North Sea," the study authors wrote.

And that’s a conservative estimate, given that many of the more far-gone porpoise corpses could potentially have been victims of an attack. On top of that, any victims whose bellies or chests had been ripped open would have sunken and decayed fast.

Given that the attacked animals tended to be young and healthy with a thick layer of blubber, the scientists think that the seals are killing the porpoises to get to those valuable, high-calorie stores of fat.

This isn’t the first time scientists have raised the alarms about this behavior. In 2012, a team of scientists in Belgium (which also sits along the southern North Sea) described this behavior — which appeared to be a relatively new development — in the journal Aquatic Mammals.

"The gray seal is an opportunistic predator, feeding on a variety of fish and cephalopods, and occasionally even on crustaceans and seabirds," the Belgian researchers wrote, "but predation on harbor porpoises, or any other marine mammal, had to our knowledge never been described."

Their findings revealed what the Belgian scientists called "a change in the feeding strategy of a top predator."

If it is indeed a new phenomenon, how did the seals start to target porpoises? That remains unclear, but the Dutch scientists who did the new study have a suggestion: It’s possible that fishermen played a part. The seals might have started off eating porpoises trapped in nets, and then decided to start hunting on their own, the authors wrote.

"It is tempting to speculate that harbor porpoises entangled in such nets may have triggered gray seals to turn from scavenging to attacking live animals," they wrote.

This kind of predation pressure from seals could have long-term effects on the porpoises. Since the victims are typically young, healthy porpoises approaching breeding age, it could be affecting how many offspring are produced — and future population levels.

It could also affect the porpoises’ behavior. They may stop building up fat reserves, so they can be leaner and more easily escape such attacks – but this would make these small whales more vulnerable to starvation. It could also mean they may change their diving behavior when seals are nearby or avoid feeding ground where the fish are plentiful, but where they may also be attacked.

Humans, beware: The authors end on a somewhat worrisome note.

"Many of the mutilated porpoises were found on Dutch shores used frequently by human bathers and surfers, and there would appear to be no a priori reason why humans may not be at risk from gray seal attacks," the study authors wrote.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 November 28

What Your Eyes Say About Your Brain BY CASSIE SHORTSLEEVE


Eyes are the window to the . . . brain? A breakthrough study in Psychological Science finds that the small vessels behind your eyes could reveal how healthy your noggin is.

The scientists found that people with wider veins scored worse on IQ tests in middle age. Other factors like smoking, diabetes, or socioeconomic status couldn’t be to blame for the scores, says Idan Shalev, Ph.D., the study’s lead author.

What gives? Your eyes’ vessels may reflect the condition of your brain’s vessels because they’re similar in size, structure, and function, says Shalev. “Eye vessels are developed from the same cells that brain vessels are developed from,” he adds.

Previous studies have linked the size of blood vessels in your eyes to risks for other diseases like dementia, cardiovascular disease, or stroke—but those studies were done in older people, says Shalev. This study found that the health of your eyes could indicate brain health at a much earlier age. The results were seen even in children.

So what does it mean for you? Pencil in the eye doctor. Even if you’re blessed with 20/20 vision, retinal imaging (a fancy term for the photo eye docs take of your eyes) does far more than test vision: It could be the easiest way yet to check in on your brain.  It’s also a good way to keep track of changes if you’re at high risk for a disease like cardiovascular disease, Shalev says. Being able to compare images over time could help ID changes in midlife that hint towards problems. Otherwise, these changes could go unnoticed as they may not show symptoms until much later, he says.



book-scorpion

Credit: Protasov AN/Shutterstock

Book scorpions are the best/worst thing to happen to books, because book scorpions

Properly known as pseudoscorpions, these tiny, tiny creatures have a fondness for old books, because old books also happen to contain delicious booklice and dust mites. And they’re really not book scorpions… at all because they can’t hurt us, and they’ve basically been performing a free pest control service since humans started stacking excessive numbers of dusty, bound-together piles of paper along our walls and nightstands. This arrangement works because old book-makers used to bind books using a starch-based glue that booklice and dust mites love, so without a healthy population of book scorpions patrolling your collection, those gross parasites are probably having a horrible, silent field-day chewing them all apart.

Of the 3,300 or so known species of pseudoscorpion, the most commonly encountered is Chelifer cancroides. Found all over the world and growing to no more than 4 millimetres in length, C. cancroides looks just like a scorpion, thanks to its enormous pair of long, pincer-like claws called pedipalps. C. cancroides’s pedipalps are twice as long as its legs, but it still manages to carry them right up in front of its head or out beside it like a nice warm thin, spiky and uncomfortable hug.

When they’re not patrolling old books or supporting oversized appendages with their tiny heads, book scorpions are having weird sex. Weird sex that involves a lot of dancing and rubbing. The process starts with a male cordoning off a ‘mating territory’ that’s around 1-2 centimetres in size. They do this by rubbing their abdomens in the centre of this space, which presumably deposits some kind of pheromone. Once a female has been lured into the arena, the male will begin his glorious courtship dance, vibrating his body rapidly and showing off his pedipalps by waving them around in what we can only assume to be a seductive manner, all in an effort to prove that he is worthy and capable of creating strong and healthy offspring with this fine lady in front of him. And oh great, she’s interested! Time to commence the forepl–

Nope. Nope. These are arachnids. And what’s the arachnid version of foreplay for our lucky male book scorpion?

He dumps a sac full of sperm on the ground.

And it gets worse, because then he pushes the female down into his sac full of sperm on the ground.

This whole process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a whole hour. The sac full of sperm will be taken in by the female’s genital orifice, and she’ll end up producing 20 to 40 eggs, which she’ll carry around in her abdomen, even after they’ve hatched. The larvae will remain inside for for some time, attached to her genital orifice and feeding on a milk-like substance produced by her ovaries until she’s become so emaciated, they just have to leave. And just like larger, actual scorpions, book scorpion mothers are cool with carrying their offspring on their backs until they’re old enough to disperse and conduct their own very important book patrols.

Also, guess what the respiratory organs of book scorpions are called. They’re calledbook lungs. And not because they belong to book scorpions. Real scorpions and spiders have them too. They’re called book lungs because they’re built with alternating stacks of air pockets and layers of tissue filled with insect blood –hemolymph – that look just like the warped pages of an old book.

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 November 13

Beauty And Bizarre Mushrooms from around the world


Bizarre Mushrooms 1

Bizarre Mushrooms 2

Bizarre Mushrooms 3

Bizarre Mushrooms 4

Bizarre Mushrooms 5

Bizarre Mushrooms 6

Bizarre Mushrooms 7

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Bizarre Mushrooms 9

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Bizarre Mushrooms 11

Bizarre Mushrooms 12

Bizarre Mushrooms 13

Bizarre Mushrooms 14

Bizarre Mushrooms 15

Bizarre Mushrooms 16

Bizarre Mushrooms 17

Bizarre Mushrooms 18

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 October 24

Rage (emotion)


Rage (often called fury or frenzy) is a feeling of intense, violent, or growing anger. It is associated with the fight-or-flight response and often activated in response to an external cue, such as the murder of a loved one or some other kind of serious offense. The phrase, ‘thrown into a fit of rage,’ expresses the immediate nature of rage that occurs before deliberation. If left unchecked, rage may lead to violence. Depression and anxiety lead to an increased susceptibility to rage, and there are modern treatments for this emotional pattern.

Etymology

Old French raige, rage (French: rage), from Medieval Latin rabia, from Latin rabies ("anger fury"). akin to Sanskrit rabhas violence.. The Vulgar Latin spelling of the word possesses many cognates when translated into many of the modern Romance languages, such as Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Portuguese, and modern Italian: rabia, rabia, ràbia, raiva, and rabbia respectively.

Symptoms and effects

Rage can sometimes lead to a state of mind where the individual experiencing it believes, and often is capable of doing things that may normally seem physically impossible. Those experiencing rage usually feel the effects of high adrenaline levels in the body. This increase in adrenal output raises the physical strength and endurance levels of the person and sharpens their senses, while dulling the sensation of pain. Temporal perspective is also affected: people in a rage have described experiencing events in slow-motion. An explanation of this "time dilation" effect is that instead of actually slowing our perception of time, high levels of adrenaline increase our ability to recall specific minutiae of an event after it occurs. Since humans gauge time based on the amount of things they can remember, high-adrenaline events such as those experienced during periods of rage seem to unfold more slowly.

A person in a state of rage may also lose much of his or her capacity for rational thought and reasoning, and may act, usually violently, on his or her impulses to the point that they may attack until they themselves have been incapacitated or the source of their rage has been destroyed.

A person in rage may also experience tunnel vision, muffled hearing, increased heart rate, and hyperventilation. Their vision may also become "rose-tinted" (hence "seeing red"). They often focus only on the source of their anger. The large amounts of adrenaline and oxygen in the bloodstream may cause a person’s extremities to shake.

Psychiatrists consider rage to be at one end of the spectrum of anger, and annoyance to be at the other side.

Biochemical Neuroscience

Rage occurs when oxytocin, vasopressin, and corticotropin-releasing hormone are rapidly released from the hypothalamus. This results in the pituitary gland producing and releasing large amounts of the adrenocorticotropic hormone, which causes the adrenal cortex to release corticosteroids. This chain reaction occurs when faced with a threatening situation.

Health complications

Some research suggests that an individual is more susceptible to having feelings of depression and anxiety if he or she experiences rage on a frequent basis. Health complications become much worse if an individual represses feelings of rage. Dr. John E. Sarno believes that repressed rage in the subconscious leads to physical ailments. Cardiac stress and hypertension are other health complications that will occur when rage is experienced on a regular basis. Psycho-pathological conditions such as depression increase the chances of experiencing feelings of rage.

Treatment

Types of therapy

Evidence has shown that behavioral and cognitive therapy techniques have assisted individuals that have difficulties controlling their anger or rage. Role playing and personal study are the two main techniques used to aid individuals with managing rage. Role playing is utilized by angering an individual to the point of rage and then showing them how to control it. Multi-modal cognitive therapy is another treatment used to help individuals cope with anger. This therapy teaches individuals relaxation techniques, problem solving skills, and techniques on response disruption. This type of therapy has proven to be effective for individuals that are highly stressed and are prone to rage.

Meditation

fMRI scans of people who practice compassion meditation show that they have changed their brains in ways that make them more compassionate and less prone to negative emotions such as rage.

MBSR programs have also been scientifically demonstrated to produce more frequent and strong feelings of love and happiness and less feelings of rage, anger, stress, and depression. See Mindfulness (psychology) for more on this topic.

Psychology

According to psychologists, rage is a behavior that every person exhibits in some form. Rage is often used to denote hostile/affective/reactive aggression (as distinct from predatory/instrumental/proactive aggression, which by contrast is motivated by a desire to obtain some goal by use of aggression). It denotes aggression where there is anger present, that is motivated by causing some harm to others, and that is characterized by impulsive thinking and a lack of planning.

Some psychologists, however, such as Bushman and Anderson, argue that the hostile/predatory dichotomy that is commonly employed in psychology fails to define rage fully, since it is possible for anger to motivate aggression, provoking vengeful behavior, without incorporating the impulsive thinking that is characteristic of rage. They point to individuals or groups such as Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech massacre or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine High School massacre, all of whom clearly experienced intense anger and hate, but whose planning (sometimes over periods of years), forethought, and lack of impulsive behavior is readily observable.

Rage stems from anger, in that, in certain cases where there is anger present, the ultimate push will create an outrageous occurrence. Many of the effects that stem from anger and how a person reaches the point of expressing rage is a fine line associated with these behavioral tendencies. Much of the behavior experienced from anger has been studied extensively, but most do not know what causes the next step, rage, or why some people go the extra emotional mile. Rage is considered to be an emergency reaction, in which we as humans are pre-wired to possess. Rage tends to be expressed when a person faces a threat to their pride, position, status, or dignity.

Expression of rage can be very intense, often distinguished by distorted facial expressions and by threat (or execution) of physical attack. Rage is associated with individuals who experience psycho-pathological issues. This can lead to physical violence resulting in serious injury or death.

Self-esteem is another factor of one feeling rage; evidence has shown that individuals that suffer from low self-esteem may compensate by inflicting physical harm onto others. Some psychologists have seen rage as being internally focused, constituting an attack on one’s self rather than on others. They believe this leads to rage being more intense, less focused, and longer-lasting. They also believe this ‘self-inflicted’ rage is a narcissistic response to one’s past injuries. Rage, under this set of theories, is caused from built-up anger from past traumas.

Rage can also be released in the wake of a traumatic event. In people who witness the killing of a loved one, many will often enter or "go into a rage", attempting to kill the perpetrator. This can sometimes be the most violent and reluctant type of rage and will usually end only after the killer or they themselves have been killed.

The Cannon–Bard theory

Whether or not actions arise from the emotional state of rage is the subject of controversy in cognitive study. Cannon–Bard holds that a stimulus causes both the reaction and the emotion at once. Thus, a person would not first become enraged and then act, but do both simultaneously.

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 October 22

The History of coffee


 

The Caffeinated History of Coffee

Tori Avey | April 8, 2013

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

History of Coffee

Second only to oil, coffee is the most valuable legally traded commodity in the world. We love it, we rely on it, and we drink it in massive quantities. It is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide. New Yorkers are said to drink 7 times the amount of any other U.S. city, which is why it may seem like there is a Starbucks on every corner of Manhattan. Famed French writer and philosopher Voltaire was rumored to have drunk 40 – 50 cups per day. Coffee is a daily ritual in the lives of millions of humans around the globe. Where exactly did this caffeinated phenomenon begin?

As with most foods that have been around for centuries, coffee’s beginnings are enveloped in mystery and lore. There is a popular Ethiopian legend wherein coffee is discovered by a goat herder named Kaldi, who found his goats frolicking and full of energy after eating the red berries of the coffee shrub. Kaldi tried the berries for himself and had a similar reaction. After witnessing their strange behavior, a monk took some of the berries back to his fellow monks; they too spent the night awake and alert. Of course, they would have been reacting to coffee’s high dose of caffeine. This natural stimulant also serves as an inborn plant pesticide, protecting the coffee berries from insects.

Ripe Coffee Berries

Before coffee became our morning beverage of choice, it appeared in a variety of different preparations. In its most basic, unprocessed form, coffee is a cherry-like fruit, which becomes red when ripe; the coffee bean is found at the center of the red coffee berry. Early on, the berries were mixed with animal fat to create a protein rich snack bar. At one point, the fermented pulp was used to make a wine-like concoction; incidentally, a similar beverage was made from the cacao fruit, before the advent of chocolate, which goes to show that humans are especially adept at finding new ways to imbibe. Another drink that appeared around 1000 A.D. was made from the whole coffee fruit, including the beans and the hull. It wasn’t until the 13th century that people began to roast coffee beans, the first step in the process of making coffee as we know it today.

The word “coffee” has roots in several languages. In Yemen it earned the name qahwah, which was originally a romantic term for wine. It later became the Turkish kahveh, then Dutch koffie and finally coffee in English.

Roasting Coffee Beans

The modern version of roasted coffee originated in Arabia. During the 13th century, coffee was extremely popular with the Muslim community for its stimulant powers, which proved useful during long prayer sessions. By parching and boiling the coffee beans, rendering them infertile, the Arabs were able to corner the market on coffee crops. In fact, tradition says that not a single coffee plant existed outside of Arabia or Africa until the 1600s, when Baba Budan, an Indian pilgrim, left Mecca with fertile beans fastened to a strap across his abdomen. Baba’s beans resulted in a new and competitive European coffee trade.

In 1616, the Dutch founded the first European-owned coffee estate in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, then Java in 1696. The French began growing coffee in the Caribbean, followed by the Spanish in Central America and the Portuguese in Brazil. European coffee houses sprang up in Italy and later France, where they reached a new level of popularity. Now, it is de rigueur for Parisians to indulge in a cup of coffee and a baguette or croissant at the numerous coffee cafes throughout Paris.

Coffee and Coffee Beans

Coffee plants reached the New World during the early 18th century, though the drink wasn’t really popular in America until the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when making the switch from tea to coffee became something of a patriotic duty. The Civil War and other conflicts that followed also helped to increase coffee consumption, as soldiers relied on the caffeine for a boost of energy. It may have started a bit later here, but Americans love coffee just as much as the rest of the world. Teddy Roosevelt himself is counted among America’s great coffee drinkers due to his rumored consumption of a gallon of coffee daily! Roosevelt is also said to have coined Maxwell House’s famous “Good to the Last Drop” slogan after being served the coffee at Andrew Jackson’s historical home, the Hermitage, in Tennessee.

By the late 1800s, coffee had become a worldwide commodity, and entrepreneurs began looking for new ways to profit from the popular beverage. In 1864, John and Charles Arbuckle, brothers from Pittsburgh, purchased Jabez Burns’ newly invented self-emptying coffee bean roaster. The Arbuckle brothers began selling pre-roasted coffee in paper bags by the pound. They named their coffee “Ariosa,” and found great success selling it to the cowboys of the American West. It wasn’t long before James Folger followed suit and began selling coffee to the gold miners of California. This blazed the trail for several other big name coffee producers, including Maxwell House and Hills Brothers.

Vintage Coffee Grinder

In the 1960s, a certain awareness for specialty coffee started to grow, inspiring the opening of the first Starbucks in Seattle in 1971. Today, the grass-roots coffee movement continues to grow with the increase of small independently-owned cafes boasting sustainable, locally roasted, fair trade beans. Coffee has become an artistic trade that is valued for its complexity of flavors and terroir, much like wine.

From a simple cup of black coffee to a complex, multi-adjective Starbucks order, each coffee drinker has their own favorite way of indulging in this caffeinated wonder-drink. Here are six coffee-inspired recipes that will give you some new ways to enjoy this ancient beverage.

Recipe Ideas

Mexican Coffee

PBS Food: Mexican Coffee


Coffee Cake Cupcakes

The Shiksa in the Kitchen: Coffee Cake Cupcakes


Perfect Iced Coffee

The Pioneer Woman: Perfect Iced Coffee


Walnut Mocha Torte

Simply Recipes: Walnut Mocha Torte


Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles

A Spicy Perspective: Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles


Grilled Coffee Balsamic Flank Steak

Cooking on the Weekends: Grilled Coffee Balsamic Flank Steak

Research Sources

“Coffee.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

Davidson, Alan (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press, UK.

The History of Coffee Culture in America. Dir. Devin Hahn. Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Media, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

“Maxwell House Coffee – “Good to the Last Drop!” Myths, Legend or True Trivia on Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt Association, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

Ponte, Stefano (2002). “The ‘Latte Revolution’? Regulation, Markets and Consumption in the Global Coffee Chain.” World Development (Elsevier Science Ltd.), n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

Smith, Andrew F. (2007). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press, NY.

You can uncover more fascinating food history on Tori’s website: The History Kitchen.

Meet the Author

Tori Avey is a food writer, recipe developer, and the creator of ToriAvey.com. She explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Tori’s food writing and photography have appeared on the websites of CNN, Bon Appetit, Zabar’s, Williams-Sonoma, Yahoo Shine, LA Weekly and The Huffington Post. Follow Tori on Facebook: Tori Avey, Twitter: @toriavey, or Google+.


A remote eruption in Iceland continues to send forth copious amounts of lava, monitored closely by the scientific community.

 

By Devin Powell

for National Geographic

A tremendous gush of lava in Iceland that began six weeks ago shows no signs of slowing. The eruption, on a plain of old lava called Holuhraun in the Bárðarbunga volcanic system, has spewed out enough molten rock so far to fill 740 Empire State buildings and has buried, on average, an area the size of an NFL football field every 5.5 minutes.

 

At this rate, the lava flow will soon be larger than any seen for more than two centuries in the volcanically active island nation. And there’s no telling when it will stop—months, maybe, or years.

"It’s amazing that it has gone on at this rate for so long," says volcanologist John Stevenson of the University of Edinburgh. (See "Icelandic Volcano Rumbles Raise Eruption Fears.")

No one lives near the growing lava flow. But continuing earthquakes associated with the eruption suggest that a separate eruption is possible. If new lava emerges under the nearby ice cap, the meeting of fire and ice could unleash massive floods and belch out a cloud of steam-driven ash similar to the plume that disrupted air travel during the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. (See "Q&A: Why Iceland’s Volcanoes Have Vexed Humans for Centuries.")

Despite its remoteness, the Holuhraun eruption is one of the best monitored in history, thanks to new instruments deployed by the European Commission-funded FUTUREVOLC project and other international teams. (Go behind the scenes of filming the volcano in "The Logistical Nightmare of Visiting a Volcano.")

Scientists hope lessons learned at Holuhraun will also help them understand the formation of ocean floors, which, like Iceland’s eruptions, takes place at geological seams where tectonic plates tear apart from each other.

"We have a lot, a lot of data, so much data that we can really see how the eruption is evolving," says FUTUREVOLC member Stéphanie Dumont, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences. A network of seismometers, for instance, helped scientists track the rock-splitting movements of the subterranean magma now feeding the eruption.

At first a shallow underground chamber was thought to be the source of the magma beneath this Bárðarbunga eruption. But the longer the lava continues to flow, the more likely a deeper reservoir is involved, says volcanologist Agust Gudmundsson of Royal Holloway, University of London. "We do not know of any volcano in the world where you can tap a shallow chamber and it keeps open this long."

There’s no telling when the spigot to the depths will turn off, so there may be a lot more lava to come and a lot more sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas released by the eruption that can drift long distances. (See "Iceland Volcano Spews Giant Ash Clouds.")

With no end in sight—eruptions that produce large amounts of lava often last months or even years—the eruption may soon have new mythical name worthy of its legendary proportions. Inspired by strands in the flow that are whimsically said to resemble a witch’s hair, University of Iceland volcanologist Thor Thordarson has suggested calling it Nornahraun, meaning "witch’s lava."

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 October 17

14 Men Open Up About The Devastation Of Divorce


SAD MAN

 

There is a common misconception that women are more heartbroken after divorce than men are — picture the cliché divorcee trying to put her life back together after being left.

The truth is, divorce is just as hard on men; they too made vows, lost their best friend and saw their futures disappear before their eyes. Thanks to a recent Reddit thread that asked men how divorce compares to a breakup, we got to hear from the guys. Here’s what they had to say:

1. "Regular breakups suck. Separation or divorce is weeks of crying yourself to sleep into a pillow in a rented room."

2. "It’s just awful. The betrayal of someone rolling you over and taking all your stuff and realizing that all those promises you made at a fancy ceremony surrounded by your family and friends mean nothing if she falls out of love with you."

3. "All your dreams die. Think about how that feels. You stand in an empty home that was supposed to be filled with laughter, good times, children, a future — and now it’s just an empty home … Everyone puts on the brave face. But you know deep down that you are broken on a very fundamental level. Its pretty scary. Its very lonely, it changes you."

4. "Emotionally it was devastating. I was with her for 24 years, 18 of those married. In my heart and my head I was committed forever. We have kids who were hurt very badly and are still struggling nearly seven years later. It is a brutal thing — I didn’t give a shit about the financial aspects, that lasts a few years and then you move forward. It is the destruction of the family that is the real disaster."

5. "The biggest thing I noticed during the divorce was how I was seen. I was a resource, not a person. I paid bills: lawyers, child [support] and spousal support, anyone that wanted money started threatening me, because I had the paycheck. It’s lonely, and you really start to question why you try so hard when no one gives a shit about you. You start to think a lot more about what’s important to you versus what’s just an obligation you’ve carried out of familiarity."

6. "It hurt more deeply than other breakups. All of the legal stuff was a pain in the ass of course, but giving up altogether was extremely difficult for me. When you’re just dating someone, it’s sort of understood that it’s possible to decide things aren’t solid enough to put a ring on and go your separate ways. Once you sign that contract and swear those vows, it just feels like a more binding commitment."

7. "No matter how much you want to be friends and be amicable, it always turns messy. You have to divorce half of your stuff, half your money, and in some cases a good chunk of your future money. But by the time you are done you might not even care, because you just want the nightmare to end so badly. If you have kids… it never ends."

8. "It was far and away the most depressing few months. I lost my moral compass and started doing all sorts of terrible things to good people. I was taking it out on everyone while pushing everyone away. I hope to never go through something like this again. I was broken by the divorce for a long time."

9. "It’s a living hell."

10. "Emotionally it was horrible. I lost not only my wife, I lost my lover, my best friend, my teammate, and my ‘family.’ To me, divorce just was never an option, until it happened. I felt lost. I had lost the one person who I felt I was allowed to confide in."

11. "It’s a lot like a breakup except the emotional repercussions are worse because the person that you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with is suddenly not in your life anymore."

12. "For the most part it’s the difference between falling off a bicycle and getting run over by a truck."

13. "I think the difference is in a marriage, you’ve relaxed into it completely because it’s supposed to be for life. You’ve let the commitment completely envelop you. And then the rug, and the earth beneath it, get yanked from under you."

14. "It sucks. We are brought up in society to believe that marriage is good and divorce is bad. We’re taught that we should try and try and try and try again to make our marriages work. When we can’t make it work, all this societal pressure to remain married makes you feel like a total failure, even if you absolutely know you’re doing the right thing. Divorce is a GOOD thing. It allows unhappy people the chance to become happy again."

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 August 24

8 Vegetables You Can Buy Once, Then Regrow Forever!


Don’t you just hate having to buy vegetables in bulk, watch them turn bad and have to buy them all over again?! Nothing is worse than watching your fresh greens go brown when you can’t use them right away.

With these simple tricks, you can easily save time and money by creating your own personal vegetable garden in the comfort of your own home. Whether you have a huge farm or a tiny studio apartment, you can easily grow these vegetables with very little effort and a bag of soil.

Even if it is easier to go to the grocery store, there is something very special about cooking with your own veggies and it’s great to have them on hand when you need them. Check out these 8 vegetables that you probably didn’t know you could regrow and then try it out for yourself. You NEVER need to buy these greens again!

Please SHARE this post with all of your friends, so they can get in on the secret, too!

 

#1 – Romaine Lettuce

#1 - Romaine Lettuce

Before you throw away the rest of that head of lettuce, try this handy trick! Add the lettuce stumps to 1/2 inch of water and then transfer the plant into soil once new leaves begin to appear. Sometimes leaves even grow twice their size the second time around. Cabbages work the same way!

 

#2 – Celery

#2 - Celery

Don’t you hate having to buy a giant bag of celery when you only need a couple of pieces? Use your leftovers to grow your own by cutting off the base and place in it in a shallow bowl of water in the sun. Once leaves start to appear after about 3 days, transfer the plant to soil.

 

#3 – Basil

#3 - Basil

There’s something fantastic about cooking with basil you’ve grown yourself! Use old basil clippings to grow a fresh plant by placing stems of 3-4 inches in a glass of water in direct sunlight. When roots grow to about 2 inches, transfer them to a pot of soil and watch them grow. Be sure to change the water constantly, though, to avoid slime!

 

#4 – Scallions

#4 - Scallions

Use discarded scallion roots to grow a new plant by placing them in a glass of water. Make sure plants are in a well-lit room or get sunlight for optimal results!

 

#5 – Cilantro

#5 - Cilantro

Buying a whole bag of cilantro can be such a waste when you only need a couple of pieces. Place old stems in a glass of water and watch their roots grow. Transfer to a pot with soil once roots are long enough and place them in a lighted room. A few months later, you should have a full plant!

 

#6 – Bok Choy

#6 - Bok Choy

Place Bok Choy stumps in a couple of inches of water for about 1-2 weeks. Once you see them begin to sprout, transplant them into a pot with soil and watch them grow a new head!

 

#7 – Carrots

#7 - Carrots

Did you know you can regrow carrot greens from chopped off carrot tops?! Place them in a dish with about 1/2 inch of water in a well-lit room or indirect sunlight. Although carrot greens are bitter, they are delicious chopped up with garlic and sweetened with vinegar for salads.

 

#8 – Garlic

#8 - Garlic

Never buy garlic again! Once garlic sprouts appear, place them in a glass with a bit of water and watch them transform before your eyes.

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 July 12

Awesome Steampunk Zombie Cosplay Wows And Terrifies Us


Josef Rarach, Zombie Walk Prague 2014

Josef Rarach, Zombie Walk Prague 2014

Zombies and apocalyptic stories are bigger now than ever, and it probably has something to do with the whole "end of the world" deal everybody keeps saying is right around the corner. Well, I haven’t seen any seas boiling or animals eating themselves or anything fun like that, but there HAS been a rise in zombie sightings. And one of the coolest I’ve seen in a long time was spotted at Zombie Walk Prague last May. Zombie Walk, a worldwide combination of convention, parade and street fair, is one of the biggest celebrations of brain-munching awesomeness in existence – and it’s a prime place to display outstanding talent in cosplay and makeup.

Take epic makeup artist and cosplayer Josef Rarach for example. His masterful talent for turning himself into a living (or maybe undead?) walking work of steampunk zombie art is both impressive, morbidly beautiful, and more than a little scary.

Imagine this guy coming toward you in a dark alley. Just imagine it for a second.

Or if you don’t feel like wetting your pants, you can check out the rest of the images with the lights on!

Is it weird if I'm really attracted right now?

It's weird, isn't it? But look at that detail!

I'd give him a light. I'm just saying.

  Zombies are hot, gorgeous works of art are hotter!

Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 July 12

8 Science-Backed Reasons Why Dads Deserve More Credit


DADS CREDIT

  • Yes, dads are more involved in their childrens’ lives than ever. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still the butt of almost every parenting joke.

    Just think about the 2012 Huggies ad claiming that the brand’s diapers were the ultimate "Dad Test" — a joke that landed flat, as a backlash prompted the diaper company to pull the campaign from Facebook. Then, of course, there was that 2007 Verizon ad, which was banned for depicting another hapless "Everybody Loves Raymond"-type of father. Shows like Lifetime’s "Deadbeat Dads" and Fox’s "Bad Dads" have also raised more than a few eyebrows. Sensing a theme here?

    With an ever-increasing number of dual-earner families and households in which the woman is the main breadwinner, the roles of fathers are shifting, even if public perception hasn’t yet, Matthew Weinshenker, assistant professor of sociology at Fordham University, told The Huffington Post. (That’s to say nothing of how growing numbers of same-sex couples are redefining what it means to be a "mother" or a "father." Such couples are pushing past traditional gender roles and broadening the range of relationships that children can have with their parents — and their kids are turning out just fine, research shows.)

    Fortunately, a growing body of scientific research is there to back up these poor, patronized dads. Here are eight things science has taught us about the father-child relationship that might convince you to move beyond the "bumbling dad" stereotype.

    Playtime is important, and dads have it covered.

    Studies have consistently found that the most common way for fathers to interact with their children is in the context of play. Mothers, on the other hand, tend to take on more of the planning and organization that go into caregiving.

    The way dads interact with children encourages them to take risks.

    Play has been shown to help teach children how to control their bodies as well as their emotions, encouraging them to take risks and be more ambitious in the long term. Even the way fathers hold their children makes a difference. Melanie Horn Mallers, an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton, told The Huffington Post that dads tend to hold their kids out to the world, while mothers tend to hold their children in, facing them. This subtle difference is actually a way in which fathers encourage their kids to take risks, Mallers said, which can benefit them later on in life in terms of their ability to engage with their environment, feel confident, solve problems and cope with stress.

    According to Mallers, mothers are more likely to give their children a sense that they are safe and protected from the world. While dads may also convey this sense, they are far more likely to communicate that, as Mallers puts it, "Yes, the world is safe, so now go and explore it."

    dad holding kid

    Playtime with dads can actually help kids form strong relationships later in life.

    The bond between father and child can influence the child’s ability to form close relationships with other people later in life. A study published in 2002 found that "adolescents’ attachment representations were predicted by fathers’ play sensitivity," meaning a father’s ability to know when to challenge a child and when to back off during playtime. Essentially, this rough-and-tumble play is quality time between a father and child, and it shouldn’t be undervalued.

    A father’s rejection could hurt a child even more than a mother’s rejection.

    Ronald Rohner has been studying father-child relationships since the 1960s. "Like most Americans, I started out 50 years ago thinking, ‘OK, sure, fathers are there and they’re important in some ways, but the really important one is Mom,’" Rohner, executive director of the Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection, told The Huffington Post.

    In the course of his research, Rohner made the startling discovery that a father’s love often contributes to a child’s personality development more than that of a mother. Specifically, a father’s rejection can cause a child to develop behavioral problems, and the resulting feelings of insecurity, anxiety and hostility can lead, eventually, to drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. Rejection by a father can also hinder a child’s long-term ability to form trusting relationships.

    Rohner notes that there are always exceptions, and that in some of the cases he looked at, the influence of both parents was about equal, or a mother’s love was the factor more indicative of a child’s development. But the overwhelming trend he found was that dads tend to wield the most influence when it comes to rejection.

    Bad father-child relationships can make children more stressed in the long run.

    Rohner isn’t the only one who’s found that a father’s perceived love (or lack thereof) packs a developmental punch. In a 2012 study of 912 men and women, Mallers found that sons who reported good relationships with their fathers were better at handling stress than sons who didn’t perceive their childhood relationship with their father to be strong. Mallers says this also ties back to playtime with fathers, which helps children develop problem-solving skills and keep calm when difficulties arise.

    father

    Basically, time spent with fathers matters.

    Though different studies have reached different conclusions, the results all point to a key takeaway: Spending time with Dad can improve a child’s ability to connect with others in a positive way. Richard Koestner, a psychologist at McGill University, studied the results of longitudinal research conducted at Yale University in the 1950s and concluded that the less time a father spent with a child, the less the child was able to feel empathy.

    "We were amazed to find that how affectionate parents were with their children made no difference in empathy," Koestner told The New York Times in 1990. "And we were astounded at how strong the father’s influence was after 25 years."

    It’s worth noting, however, that Rohner didn’t find that to be true in his research. He says it’s quality of time, not simply quantity, that counts when it comes to kids perceiving their fathers as loving or not. But however you slice it, children benefit from face-to-face time with dads.

    Dads bond with their children thanks to the "love hormone."

    A mother’s hormone surge and subsequent attachment bonding at the birth of a new baby is a well-known concept. But dads release plenty of hormones, too.

    Studies have suggested that new fathers have increased levels of oxytocin, aka the "love hormone," during a newborn’s first weeks. Oxytocin allows new dads to bond with their babies, making it more likely that they’ll engage in that all-important playtime. In fact, the surge of lovey-dovey hormones in fathers is thought to be sparked by parenting itself — "tossing the baby in the air, pulling the little one up to sit, or encouraging exploration and laughter," according to a Live Science report of a 2010 study conducted by psychologist Ruth Feldman at Bar-Ilan University.

    487703351

    In fact, new dads experience all sorts of important hormonal fluctuations.

    Fathers exhibit about a 30 percent dip in testosterone during their infant’s first three weeks, allowing the dads to unleash their inner nurturer and squash any aggressive behavior. Additionally, while waiting for their babies to be born, fathers experience a spike in cortisol, the "stress hormone" that also prompts attachment, and prolactin, the same hormone that causes mothers to produce milk.

    Since men aren’t producing hormones to help create a baby, Mallers hypothesizes that the stress of a new child causes many new dads to experience these fluctuations.

    In short, don’t underestimate the importance of fathers.

    Amid the social and cultural shifts of the past few decades, many dads have altered the ways in which they relate to their children. As Weinshenker put it: "I don’t think we’re going back to the 1950s, where a man came home after a long day at work and smoked his pipe and maybe kicked the ball around with his children."

    And as women continue to thrive in the workforce, dads will be more and more encouraged to step up to the parenting plate and form strong, nurturing bonds with their kids. They’re just waiting for advertisers and reality TV producers to catch up with what researchers have already found.

    Rebecca Adams Become a fan Rebecca.Adams@huffingtonpost.com

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 July 7

    Some Of The Most Awful Parasites In The World


    June 30, 2014 | by Justine Alford

    photo credit: Andy Heyward, via Flickr. Cymothoa exigua parasite.
     

    It turns out that there are some SERIOUSLY messed up parasites in our world. You all know how much we love disgusting things, so we thought we’d share a few examples of the vilest parasites we could think of. I suggest you don’t read this if you’re thinking of eating any time soon.

    Tongue Eating Parasite

    Don’t worry- before you throw up over yourself thinking about something eating your tongue, this is a parasite of fish not humans. Cymothoa exigua is a parasitic isopod that starts off its life as a male but can switch sex later on (organisms such as this are known as protandric hermaphrodites). The parasites enter a host fish through the gills and set up camp here to mature. A female then crawls out from the gills and secures herself onto the tongue of the fish. Here’s the part where it gets seriously messed up.

    She pierces the tongue and starts sucking blood from it as a source of nutrition, gradually increasing in size until she takes up a large proportion of the mouth. Although she doesn’t drain enough to kill the fish, she drinks so much that the tongue wastes away and falls off, leaving the parasite in its place as a pseudo-tongue. Incredibly, the fish is still alive and kicking, and the cheeky gatecrasher even pinches the food that the host is trying to eat.

    Now, you might not think there’s much room for any funny business in here, but they find a way. A male will crawl up from the gills and mate with the female inside the fish’s mouth- ew. She then releases her babies which will go on to continue the cycle again. Grim.

    Cymothoa exigua taking up almost the entire mouth of a poor fish. Image credit: Marco Vinci, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Guinea-Worm Disease

    This horrifying disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dracununculus medinensis. Larvae of the guinea worm are ingested by water fleas which can then be consumed by thirsty humans if they drink untreated water. The stomach acid then dissolves the fleas, releasing the larvae that then burrow their way through the intestinal wall. The worms will then mature in the body- the female can reach up to a whopping 80 cm’s in length. If infected with both, male and female will worm around the both and find each other to mate, resulting in the female carrying 3 million embryos. That’s all the male is good for, so he dies, poor little fella.

    The female then slithers through subcutaneous tissues, causing immense pain, until she arrives at the foot. Here, she pierces the skin and leaves the victim with a painful blister. Because it burns so bad, the human dunks the foot in water to try and ease the pain, which is exactly what the worm wants. The female then pokes her head out and vomits embryos from her mouth into the water so that they can wriggle away and get chowed on again by some poor unsuspecting fleas. The poor human then needs to spend weeks slowly extracting the worm to avoid breaking it which could cause a serious immune reaction. Shudder.

    Guinea worm emerging from an infected person’s foot. Image credit: Otis Historical Archives of “National Museum of Health & Medicine,”​ via Wikimedia Commons.

    Mind-Manipulating Fungi

    So you’re a fungus that lives in a tropical forest that experiences fluctuating humidity and temperature, but you can only thrive within a specific range of these variables. What do you do? Parasitize an ant, turn it into a zombie and make it seek out your perfect environment, of course. Oh, and then kill it and grow a big fungal pole out of its head, just for good measure.

    The fungal parasite Ophiocordyceps is a spectacular example of host manipulation. Numerous different species have been described which differ in their host choice and death location. O. unilateralis, for example, infects carpenter (Camponotus) ants. The fungus then manipulates the host so that it abandons its usual habitat and heads for the sheltered underside of a leaf with ideal conditions for the fungus to grow. Here, the ant bites down on the leaf, usually on a vein, performing what is known as a “death grip.” The ant then dies and the hyphae (tubular fungal structures) grow inside the host, eventually tearing through the back of the head, looking like something out of Game of Thrones. Spores are then released from the fungus into a small area below the leaf referred to as an “infectious killing field,” ready to start the process over again. Lovely.

    O. unilateralis infected ant with hyphae growing out of the head. Image credit: David Hughes, Maj-Britt Pontoppidan, PLoS ONE​, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Suicidal Crickets

    Horsehair worms, obviously named because of their resemblance to horse hair, are endoparasites of various arthropods including crabs and crickets. The larvae live in marine or freshwater environments and are often eaten by insects such as mosquitoes. Infected insects may then get gobbled up by hungry, unsuspecting crickets and the horrifying process starts.

    They burrow through the gut and then settle into a nice cozy body cavity, growing to around a foot in length on average. Then something weird happens- the worm needs to get back in the water to complete its life cycle, so it makes the cricket go kamikaze. Normally crickets stay the heck away from water for fear of death, but infected hosts seek out water and cannonball into it, causing them to die. The worms then wriggle out in search of a mate, job’s a good’un.

    Although it is not known how precisely these worms alter the behavior of the cricket, studies have shown that the worms produce large quantities of neurotransmitters when inside the host and also cause the host to produce more neurotransmitters. Somewhere along the line this causes the cricket to behave in an abnormal and suicidal manner, waving goodbye to terrestrial life in favor of an early watery grave.

    Parasitoid Wasps

    The majority of wasp species are actually parasitoids, meaning that they steal the body of another organism and use it as a nursery for their hungry offspring that chomp through the poor host while it is still alive. As if wasps could get any worse?! Evil winged devils.

    There are a few truly disgusting examples of parasitoid wasps, starting with Glypatapanteles wasps. Members of this genus lay up to 80 eggs into a live caterpillar that then hatch and snack on the poor unsuspecting host’s body. The larvae eat their way through the caterpillar’s skin and attach themselves to a nearby piece of foliage and form a cocoon. Then, in a bizarre twist, the caterpillar turns bodyguard. It ignores its daily leaf chomping duties entirely and stands guard over the pupae, violently swinging its head at incoming predators, knocking them away. How the parasites cause the caterpillars to turn into faithful guardians is unknown, but unparasitized caterpillars don’t perform this behavior.

    The emerald cockroach wasp, or jewel wasp, also turns its host into a submissive zombie by injecting venom directly into its brain with a powerful sting aimed right at the head. It then drags the confused and paralyzed cockroach into a chamber and lays an egg on it. The larva eventually hatches and bores inside the host, eating its insides while it is initially still alive. After gobbling much of its organs the cockroach dies, which we’re not too sad about because they are also disgusting. But what a way to go.

    Emerald cockroach wasp. Image credit: Sharadpunita, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Filarial Worms

    Last, but certainly not least, the worm that can turn you into a real sight for sore eyes. Filarial nematodes get into human hosts via mosquitoes which eat microscopic early stage worms the size of a red blood cell. These then migrate to the lymphatic system, mature, and of course mate.

    Here, they can cause inflammation of the lymph nodes (lymphadenitis) and lymphedema, or tissue swelling caused by lymph fluid retention. Those with repeat, chronic infection are threatened with experiencing the rather unpleasant and disfiguring manifestation of elephantiasis which involves dramatic and often debilitating swelling of a body part. Unfortunately for the men infected with these worms, their scrotum can also swell up. Seriously unlucky.

    Ouch. Elephantiasis caused by filariasis. Image credit: CDC, via Wikimedia Commons.


    Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/some-most-awful-parasites-world#VtFi5Bu2PVLsEuvu.99

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 June 18

    8 Beers That You Should Stop Drinking Immediately


     

    http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/villageee.jpg

    Here are the 8 beers that are commonly found in bars in United States that you should stop drinking immediately.

    Many of us choose what we eat very carefully, or at least dedicate our minimum attention to it. But when it comes to drinks, especially alcoholic beverages, we do little to make the best decisions for our health. Which is a HUGE mistake. All the work for your body can be ruined in a weekend out. While foods and non alcoholic beverages are required to list their ingredients and are monitored by the FDA, beer does not belong in either. Alcohol industry had lobbied for years to avoid labeling its ingredients. Some to protect its recipes, but most – to hide harmful ingredients.

    Here’s some harmful ingredients that are commonly found in beer:

    • GMO Corn Syrup
    • GMO Corn
    • High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Fish Bladder
    • Propylene Glycol
    • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    • Natural Flavors
    • GMO Sugars
    • Caramel Coloring
    • Insect-Based Dyes
    • Carrageenan
    • BPA
    • & lots more!

    1. Newcastle Brown Ale

    newcastle gmo beer

    The Newcastle beer has been found to contain caramel coloring. Class 3 and 4 caramel coloring is made from ammonia, which is classified as a carcinogen. While alcohol is a carcinogen itself, drinking it in moderation may decrease your chances at developing cancer. However, more added carcinogens will have the opposite effect. “The one and only” beer with extra cancer causing qualities.

    2. Budweiser

    budweiser gmo beer

    One of the most popular beers, or most advertised is Budweiser. Budweiser contains genetically modified (GMO) corn. In 2007, Greenpeace discovered experimental GMO rice in Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) beer.

    3. Corona Extra

    corona-gmo-beer

    I used to love Corona’s commercials. They were so peaceful and relaxing. That is until I found out that the beer contains GMO Corn Syrup and Propylene Glycol. Propylene Glycol is controversial, and is said to may be potentially harmful to your health.

    4. Miller Lite

    Miller-Lite-GMO

    This is another very popular beer in America that contains GMOs. Miller Lite contains GMO corn and corn syrup. It’s “GMO time”.

    5. Michelob Ultra

    michelob-ultra-gmoLess popular but still readily available Michelob beer, should be eliminated from your choices. This beer has been found to contain a genetically modified sweetener (GMO dextrose).

    6. Guinness

    guinness-gmo-beer

    Guinness is often praised for it’s smoothness.  However, several investigations proved that Guinness ingredients are quite disturbing. The beer contains isinglass, an ingredient which comes from fish bladder and high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup has been long banned from many stores and drinks.

    Update: Good news! We’ve contacted Guinness and they have stated that they no longer use high fructose corn syrup in any of their beers.

    7. Coors Light

    Coors-Light-GMO

    Coors light is a drink that is very popular at bars and among college students.  Mostly because its cheap. The beer contains GMO corn syrup.

    8. Pabst Blue Ribbon

    Pabst-Blue-Ribbon-GMO

    Pabst Blue Ribbon contains GMO corn and GMO corn syrup.

    Healthy Beer Alternatives

    So when it comes to beer you have to be very careful. Your best option is to find a microbrewery that you can trust. As with everything, try to avoid cheap, low-quality products. Bars may offer Coors Light, Miller Lite or Budweiser specials, but they are cheap for a reason. The rest of the world is banning GMOs everywhere, while USA is lagging years behind, and only several states offer GMO labeling laws. Try to stay away from any American beers. Choose organic beer. Beers that contain 100% organic labels, have to have ingredients that are all 100% organic. While an “organic” label just means 95% of it will be organic.  European beer is most likely to be safe from GMO ingredients but unfortunately, most other beer contains GMO artificial ingredients, stabilizers, grains and preservatives, plus, HFCS.

    GMO Free Beers:

    Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

    • Wolaver’s – all beers
    • Lamar Street – Whole Foods label (brewed by Goose Island)
    • Bison – all beers
    • Dogfish Head (organic when ingredients available)
    • Fish Brewery Company – Fish Tale Ales
    • Lakefront Brewery – Organic ESB
    • Brooklyn – (organic when ingredients are available)
    • Pinkus – all beers
    • Samuel Smiths – Samuel Smiths Organic Ale
    • Wychwood – Scarecrow Ale

    Non-Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

    • Sierra Nevada – all choices
    • Duck Rabbit – Brown Ale, Porter, Amber Ale, Milk Stout
    • Dogfish Head- 60 Minute IPA, Shelter Pale Ale, Chicory Stout
    • Shipyard – Summer Brew
    • Victory Brewery – Whirlwind
    • North Coast – Blue Star
    • Bridgeport – IPA (Bottle conditioned)
    • Ayinger – all choices
    • Royal Oak – Pale Ale
    • Fraziskaner – Hefeweisse and Dunkel Weisse
    • Weihenstephaner – Hefe Weissbier
    • Maisel’s – Weisse
    • Hoegaarden – Belgian Wit

    Other

    • Heineken
    • Steamwhistle
    • Amstel Light
    • Duchy Original Ale Organic
    • Mill Street Brewery
    • Fuller’s Organic
    • Nelson Organic Ale
    • Natureland Organic

    Share This with Fellow Beer Drinkers

    It’s important to expose companies that use harmful ingredients in our products. This information is hidden from the public with millions of dollars of false advertising, laws, etc. You can always vote with your money. As this information about GMO beers spreads, we will see a decrease in production of these beers and the companies may eliminate the harmful ingredients altogether. Most importantly, when you hang out with your friends, you will be able to share beer that’s more delicious and healthier.

    If you have any additional information about GMO or non-gmo beers, or want to correct some of the information, simply e-mail us or leave a comment with evidence bellow.

    Sources:

    atsdr.cdc.gov

    foodbabe.com

    greenpeace.org

    Credits:

    This article first appeared on organics.org via whydontyoutrythis.com

    Featured image courtesy of: Villagegreennetwork.com


    Annalee Newitz

    10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing

    Many ideas have left the world of science and made their way into everyday language — and unfortunately, they are almost always used incorrectly. We asked a group of scientists to tell us which scientific terms they believe are the most widely misunderstood. Here are ten of them.

     

    1. Proof

    Physicist Sean Carroll says:

    I would say that "proof" is the most widely misunderstood concept in all of science. It has a technical definition (a logical demonstration that certain conclusions follow from certain assumptions) that is strongly at odds with how it is used in casual conversation, which is closer to simply "strong evidence for something." There is a mismatch between how scientists talk and what people hear because scientists tend to have the stronger definition in mind. And by that definition, science never proves anything! So when we are asked "What is your proof that we evolved from other species?" or "Can you really prove that climate change is caused by human activity?" we tend to hem and haw rather than simply saying "Of course we can." The fact that science never really proves anything, but simply creates more and more reliable and comprehensive theories of the world that nevertheless are always subject to update and improvement, is one of the key aspects of why science is so successful.

    2. Theory

    Astrophysicist Dave Goldberg has a theory about the word theory:

    Members of the general public (along with people with an ideological axe to grind) hear the word "theory" and equate it with "idea" or "supposition." We know better. Scientific theories are entire systems of testable ideas which are potentially refutable either by the evidence at hand or an experiment that somebody could perform. The best theories (in which I include special relativity, quantum mechanics, and evolution) have withstood a hundred years or more of challenges, either from people who want to prove themselves smarter than Einstein, or from people who don’t like metaphysical challenges to their world view. Finally, theories are malleable, but not infinitely so. Theories can be found to be incomplete or wrong in some particular detail without the entire edifice being torn down. Evolution has, itself, adapted a lot over the years, but not so much that it wouldn’t still be recognize it. The problem with the phrase "just a theory," is that it implies a real scientific theory is a small thing, and it isn’t.

    10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing

    3. Quantum Uncertainty and Quantum Weirdness

    Goldberg adds that there’s another idea that has been misinterpreted even more perniciously than "theory." It’s when people appropriate concepts from physics for new agey or spiritual purposes:

    This misconception is an exploitation of quantum mechanics by a certain breed spiritualists and self-helpers, and epitomized by the abomination, [the movie] What the Bleep Do We Know? Quantum mechanics, famously, has measurement at its core. An observer measuring position or momentum or energy causes the "wavefunction to collapse," non-deterministically. (Indeed, I did one of my first columns on "How smart do you need to collapse a wavefunction?") But just because the universe isn’t deterministic doesn’t mean that you are the one controlling it. It is remarkable (and frankly, alarming) the degree to which quantum uncertainty and quantum weirdness get inextricably bound up in certain circles with the idea of a soul, or humans controlling the universe, or some other pseudoscience. In the end, we are made of quantum particles (protons, neutrons, electrons) and are part of the quantum universe. That is cool, of course, but only in the sense that all of physics is cool.

    4. Learned vs. Innate

    Evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk says:

    One of my favorite [misuses] is the idea of behavior being "learned vs. innate" or any of the other nature-nurture versions of this. The first question I often get when I talk about a behavior is whether it’s "genetic" or not, which is a misunderstanding because ALL traits, all the time, are the result of input from the genes and input from the environment. Only a difference between traits, and not the trait itself, can be genetic or learned — like if you have identical twins reared in different environments and they do something different (like speak different languages), then that difference is learned. But speaking French or Italian or whatever isn’t totally learned in and of itself, because obviously one has to have a certain genetic background to be able to speak at all.

    10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing

    5. Natural

    Synthetic biologist Terry Johnson is really, really tired of people misunderstanding what this word means:

    "Natural" is a word that has been used in so many contexts with so many different meanings that it’s become almost impossible to parse. Its most basic usage, to distinguish phenomena that exist only because of humankind from phenomena that don’t, presumes that humans are somehow separate from nature, and our works are un- or non-natural when compared to, say, beavers or honeybees.

    When speaking of food, "natural" is even slipperier. It has different meanings in different countries, and in the US, the FDA has given up on a meaningful definition of natural food (largely in favor of "organic", another nebulous term). In Canada, I could market corn as "natural" if I avoid adding or subtracting various things before selling it, but the corn itself is the result of thousands of years of selection by humans, from a plant that wouldn’t exist without human intervention.

    6. Gene

    Johnson has an even bigger concern about how the word gene gets used, however:

    It took 25 scientists two contentious days to come up with: "a locatable region of genomic sequence, corresponding to a unit of inheritance, which is associated with regulatory regions, transcribed regions and/or other functional sequence regions." Meaning that a gene is a discrete bit of DNA that we can point to and say, "that makes something, or regulates the making of something". The definition has a lot of wiggle room by design; it wasn’t long ago that we thought that most of our DNA didn’t do anything at all. We called it "junk DNA", but we’re discovering that much of that junk has purposes that weren’t immediately obvious.

    Typically "gene" is misused most when followed by "for". There’s two problems with this. We all have genes for hemoglobin, but we don’t all have sickle cell anemia. Different people have different versions of the hemoglobin gene, called alleles. There are hemoglobin alleles which are associated with sickle cell diseases, and others that aren’t. So, a gene refers to a family of alleles, and only a few members of that family, if any, are associated with diseases or disorders. The gene isn’t bad – trust me, you won’t live long without hemoglobin – though the particular version of hemoglobin that you have could be problematic.

    I worry most about the popularization of the idea that when a genetic variation is correlated with something, it is the "gene for" that something. The language suggests that "this gene causes heart disease", when the reality is usually, "people that have this allele seem to have a slightly higher incidence of heart disease, but we don’t know why, and maybe there are compensating advantages to this allele that we didn’t notice because we weren’t looking for them".

    7. Statistically Significant

    Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg wants to set the record straight about this idea:

    "Statistically significant" is one of those phrases scientists would love to have a chance to take back and rename. "Significant" suggests importance; but the test of statistical significance, developed by the British statistician R.A. Fisher, doesn’t measure the importance or size of an effect; only whether we are able to distinguish it, using our keenest statistical tools, from zero. "Statistically noticeable" or "Statistically discernable" would be much better.

    10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing

    8. Survival of the Fittest

    Paleoecologist Jacquelyn Gill says that people misunderstand some of the basic tenets of evolutionary theory:

    Topping my list would be "survival of the fittest." First, these are not actually Darwin’s own words, and secondly, people have a misconception about what "fittest" means. Relatedly, there’s major confusion about evolution in general, including the persistent idea that evolution is progressive and directional (or even deliberate on the part of organisms; people don’t get the idea of natural selection), or that all traits must be adaptive (sexual selection is a thing! And so are random mutations!).

    Fittest does not mean strongest, or smartest. It simply means an organism that fits best into its environment, which could mean anything from "smallest" or "squishiest" to "most poisonous" or "best able to live without water for weeks at a time." Plus, creatures don’t always evolve in a way that we can explain as adaptations. Their evolutionary path may have more to do with random mutations, or traits that other members of their species find attractive.

    9. Geologic Timescales

    Gill, whose work centers on Pleistocene environments that existed over 15,000 years ago, says that she’s also dismayed by how little people seem to understand the Earth’s timescales:

    One issue I often run into is that the public lacks an understanding of geologic timescales. Anything prehistoric gets compressed in peoples’s minds, and folks think that 20,000 years ago we had drastically different species (nope), or even dinosaurs (nope nope nope). It doesn’t help that those little tubes of plastic toy dinosaurs often include cave people or mammoths.

    10. Organic

    Entomologist Gwen Pearson says that there’s a constellation of terms that "travel together" with the word "organic," such as "chemical-free," and "natural." And she’s tired of seeing how profoundly people misunderstand them:

    I’m less upset about the way that they are technically incorrect [though of course all] food is all organic, because it contains carbon,etc. [My concern is] the way they are used to dismiss and minimize real differences in food and product production.

    Things can be natural and "organic", but still quite dangerous.

    Things can be "synthetic" and manufactured, but safe. And sometimes better choices. If you are taking insulin, odds are it’s from GMO bacteria. And it’s saving lives.


     

    BY STEVEN BANCARZJUNE 14, 2014SELF HELP, SPIRITUALITY

    dating

    Elite Daily| What is the dating game, you ask? Well, you probably know it all too well. It’s the game of “let’s see who can try to act like they care less in order to get someone else to care more and then take turns.”

    It’s the blurred line between how casual you are and what title you decide to designate to your romantic encounters. It’s so confusing that I often lose track and I’m sure you do, too.

    What is the reason for not being able to be simple and honest? Like, “Hey, I think you’re really cute and I would like to get some coffee and giggle awkwardly at our small talk, so I can spend some extra time looking at your cute face.”

    The reason it isn’t so easy is because we all play the game. Here are a few ways to put down your cards and really look at the faces that surround you without wearing your own poker face:

    1. If you like someone, don’t pretend you don’t.

    If the person then runs for the hills, ask yourself what the point was for investing any further emotion, anyway?


    2. GO ON DATES.

    They aren’t an extinct practice. Going to the movies with someone doesn’t mean you’re signing a marriage license. It’s for fun, you guys.


    3. Don’t use your past relationships as a crutch that enables you to fear commitment.

    We have all had relationships that failed. If you use those problems to justify your twisted actions in every future romantic encounter, you will waste many potentially successful relationships.


    4. Don’t alter what you want.

    If you want a relationship and someone else doesn’t, don’t settle for his or her sake. That would be like playing a board game without getting to roll your own dice.


    5. Stop caring about what people will think.

    The connotations that surround dating and relationships are so blurred and disfigured at this point that you will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how to please everyone.


    6. Quit using people.

    Don’t use others for the way they make you look to other people. Don’t use them for physical reasons. Don’t use them because you’re lonely. Just don’t use them.

    You use a mop to clean the floor. You use a match to start a fire. You don’t use human beings to satisfy your own needs.


    7. Find out who people actually are.

    Go ahead; ask about their little sisters and whether they’re more afraid of spiders or snakes. There’s nothing wrong with learning more about people than the fact that they like Fireball whiskey and study engineering.


    8. Have chivalry and respect in every way.

    As the age-old saying goes, always treat others as you wish to be treated. No one deserves anything less than your utmost respect.


    9. Stop playing with other people’s emotions.

    If you know that you are dragging someone along for selfish reasons, put yourself in his or her shoes and do the decent thing. Just be honest.


    10. Stop settling.

    If you want that girl with the curly blonde hair and 4.0 who you hardly know, go for it. You aren’t beneath anyone or anything; you can have a dream and you are the largest obstacle standing in the way of it actually happening.

    Stop feeling like you are limited to certain people; you’ll only grow to be unsatisfied with that limited group.


    11. Don’t be afraid to be corny.

    Just be you. If simple things like a “good morning” text or an impromptu smoothie date is how you want to show interest in someone, go for it. Be dorky and stop worrying about satisfying the status quo.


    12. Take all of the physical aspects of your relationship slowly.

    I know this one is difficult to grasp, but let’s be completely honest about the fact that intimacy complicates things. Why add one more complication before you can trust someone?


    13. Don’t try to make someone jealous.

    It will never lead the person to like you more. I’ll never understand why we seem to think that it’s a viable option in any situation.


    14. Let go of any preconceived expectations you have for someone.

    Trust me, you really have no idea what you want and dismissing people based upon your specific criteria could lead you to really miss out.


    15. Realize that you are young and dating is about learning.

    It’s not about the best “hookup” or even necessarily about handpicking your perfect life partner. We are young. Dating is for learning about others and about yourself in a way that is fun and will bring you happiness.

    Treat others with respect and let them make you awkwardly giggle as your heart flutters. Meet new people and their friends. Visit new places and understand unique ideas and perspectives.

    Stop trying to navigate through it like a game that you can manipulate to achieve the best outcome without much risk. Be simple. Be kind. Be happy.

    We are responsible for making this more complicated than it needs to be. It isn’t a game; it’s just other people. Stop counting cards and start counting smiles.

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 June 9

    16 Reasons To Have Daily Sex


     

    The Mind Unleashed

    http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/16-reasonnss.jpg

    Stressed, burdened with life’s difficult problems and fear that your health is declining? Then sex is the answer to happiness, longevity and a healthy body. You don’t agree?

    1. De-stress
    Sex helps you reduce stress. When deep breathing exercises fail to de-stress you, sex will do the needful.

    During sex your body produces dopamine, a substance that fights stress hormones, endorphins, aka “happiness hormones” and oxytocin, a desire-enhancing hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.

    In a study, published in the Public Library of Science journal, three neuroscience researchers conducted a test on male rats and found that the sexually active rats were less anxious than rats with no sexual activity.

    2. Great Form of Exercise
    Making love is a form of physical activity. During intercourse, the physiological changes in your body are consistent with a workout. You must have noticed that the respiratory rate rises, which means you get tired. Hence, you burn calories. If you have sex three times a week for 15 minutes (but we know you can do better than that) you’ll burn about 7.500 calories in a year. That’s the equivalent of jogging 75 miles! Heavy breathing raises the amount of oxygen in your cells, and the testosterone produced during sex keeps your bones and muscles strong.

    3. Lowers high blood pressure
    Hugs and sex can improve your blood pressure. Sex reduces diastolic blood pressure, that is, the bottom number while reading blood pressure.

    Researchers with the University of Paisley conducted an experiment on the same. They concluded that sex improves blood pressure.

    4. Builds your immunity
    Trying to fight the sniffles? Sex is the answer to fight cold and other health problems; sex can boost your immunity.

    Immunoglobulin A, an antigen that fights the flu increases when the frequency of sex increases.

    5. Makes You Look Younger
    Making love three times a week can make you look 10 years younger, claims a Scottish researcher. “It’s good for you to have good sex,” says David Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, whose study on the effects of sex on aging appears in his book, Secrets of the Superyoung.

    6. Healthy heart
    Sex helps you burn calories but it can also improve your heart. Sex will take care of stroke and heart attacks, you just have to enjoy the moment.

    Scientists with New England Research Institute examined the effect of sex on the heart. The study concluded that men are 45 percent less likely to experience cardiovascular diseases. But the study fails to study the effect of sex on a woman’s heart.

    7. Pain relief
    Pleasure is the measure to beat out the pain. Do you experience migraines and body pain? Well sex is the answer. But if you experience back pain, it is best to consult a doctor.

    Dr. George E. Erlich, an arthritis specialist from Philadelphia conducted a study on the link between arthritis and sex. He narrows down that patients who engaged in sex experienced less pain.

    8. Builds trust and intimacy
    The act of sex spikes the hormone oxytocin; this hormone is responsible for your happiness and love. If your feel your relationship is falling out, there is trust or you’re worried that your partner will stray away, then sex will dispel these doubts. The hormone oxytocin builds trust and brings couples closer, and cupid too.

    9. Less chances of cancer
    Regular ejaculation reduces your chances of developing prostate cancer. In an Australian study men who ejaculated 21 times a month were least likely to develop cancer. It is further supported by other researches that sexual intercourse reduces the risk of prostrate cancer.

    10. Stronger pelvic muscles
    Sex involves the use of several muscles; hence regular sexual intercourse can help you develop stronger pelvic muscles. Further, since the act of sex involves a range of muscles, it also helps strengthen these muscles – for ex: quads, your core, and the upper back. Through regular sex, you can also maintain a strong bladder and bowel function.

    Strong muscles, calorie burner, improves heart health – sex seems to take care of you.

    11. Prostate Protection
    Most of the fluid you ejaculate is secreted by the prostate gland. If you stop ejaculating, the fluid stays in the gland, which tends to swell, causing lots of problems. Regular ejaculation will wash those fluids out and ensure the well being of your prostate until old age. Problems may also occur when you suddenly change the frequency of ejaculations.

    12. Induces sleep
    After that great, lovely workout you are bound to get good sleep. But guess what? Sex works the same way as exercise. The increased heart rate leads to increased post-coital relaxation. Sex could be the next thing for insomniacs! So what really happens:
    – Sex can relax you, hence if you are already tired, the act of sex will induce sleep.
    – When men ejaculate they become lethargic, this can make them sleepy.

    13. Regular periods
    Apparently sex can improve your menstrual cycle. Sex regulates hormones, which in turn regulate the menstrual cycle. Sex reduces stress, which is one of the reasons women miss their periods. Sex seems like a better option than pills.

    14. Prevents Erectile Dysfunctions
    Fifty per cent of men older than 40 suffer from erectile dysfunctions and all young men fear the moment when they won’t be able to get it up any more. The best medicine against impotence is…sex. An erection keeps the blood flowing through your penile arteries, so the tissue stays healthy. Plus, doctors compare an erection to an athletic reflex: the more you train the more capable you are to perform.

    15. Live longer
    A healthy heart, stronger muscles, increased circulation of oxygen and happiness are some of the factors that add life to the years and as a result – years to your life.

    A study published in the British Medical Journal reveals that men who engaged in sex often live twice as those who rarely had any action.

    16. Healthier semen
    If you’re trying to conceive, you increase the volume of semen if you have sex regularly. Regular sex replaces old sperms from the testicles. If there is a natural build of sperms it can lead to DNA damage.

    Credits: PreventDisease

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 June 9

    10 Words That You’ve Probably Been Misusing


    Tyler Vendetti

    There are so many words in the English language that it’s not surprising that the definitions for some of them have gotten mixed up over the years. It’s possible that you’ve gone your entire life without realizing your mistakes. I’m sure people have noticed. One day, you were probably walking down the street, casually chatting with an old friend, and one of these words slipped out of your mouth. Before you can move on to your story about how Mufasa would actually make a very attractive human, your friend stops to correct your error, and suddenly, your whole life starts to feel like one giant lie. How long have you been using that word incorrectly, you wonder? How many angry Facebook rants have you ruined with your improper grammar? While I can’t give you an answer to those questions, I can at least provide you with a list of other tricky words so that you may never have to suffer from this embarrassment ever again:

    1) Travesty

    What you may think it means: a tragedy, an unfortunate event

    What it actually means: a mockery; a parody

    This one, I’ll admit, is my own personal error. For the longest time, I equated travesty with tragedy, mostly because in passing, they sound like the same word. It’s stupid, I know, but if you knew how many times I confused fetal position with beetle position, you wouldn’t be laughing. It’s a serious problem.

    2) Ironic

    What you may think it means: a funny coincidence

    What it actually means: contrary to what you might expect

    It’s not ironic that you bumped into a talking turtle in a sweater vest right after you told your friend how cool it would be to bump into a talking turtle in a sweater vest. It’s a coincidence, and believe it or not, those two words are not related. Also, you should probably lay off the drugs because I’m pretty sure animals shouldn’t be talking.

    3) Peruse

    What you may think it means: to skim or glance over something

    What it actually means: to review something carefully/in-depth

    How this definition got completely turned on its head, I’ll never know, but I’ll be sure never to say “I’m going to go peruse my math textbook” ever again, just in case someone overhears and tries to hold me to it under the real meaning.

    4) Bemused

    What you may think it means: amused

    What it actually means: confused

    Again, with the whole “words sounding alike” issue. I’m starting to think I just need hearing aids. This is getting out of hand.

    5) Compelled

    What you may think it means: to willingly do something, to feel like you need to do something

    What it actually means: to be forced to do something (willingly or unwillingly)

    The word you’re looking for is “impelled.” I agree, it doesn’t get enough attention.

    6) Nauseous

    What you may think it means: to feel sick

    What it actually means: to cause nausea

    When you eat too much ice cream and declare to your mom or the nearest adult, “I feel nauseous,” what you’re actually saying is that you are causing people around you to feel sick. Thanks, jerk. (For the record, “I’m nauseated” is the way to go.)

    7) Conversate

    What you may think it means: to hold a conversation

    What it actually means: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

    This word is a mix of conversation and converse, and doesn’t actually exist, like unicorns or YOUR DREAMS. (I’m kidding. Unicorns are totally real.)

    8) Redundant

    What you may think it means: repetitive

    What it actually means: superfluous, able to be cut out

    “Including this sentence is redundant because you already mentioned your love of Santa Claus in the previous paragraph.” This has always been my exposure to the word redundant, so it only makes sense that I would think repetitive was correct. I can’t be the only one? Right? RIGHT?

    9) Enormity

    What you may think it means: enormousness

    What it actually means: extreme evil

    I don’t know where the “extreme evil” thing came from (probably the Devil) but enormity makes more sense as enormousness in my mind.

    10) Terrific

    What you may think it means: awesome, fantastic

    What it actually means: causing terror

    Okay, so “causing terror” is more of an outdated definition but I still thought it was interesting. Maybe keep this fun fact in the back of your mind the next time you call your favorite camper, “Terrific Tommy,” because technically, a few decades ago, that might have been an insult. Unless instead of a camper, he’s a serial killer. In that case, go for it.

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 June 1

    10 Best Plants to Grow Indoors for Air Purification


    http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ten-best.jpg

    Most are naturally drawn to the outdoors for a period of quiet contemplation and/or a restful area to relax in. But often snowy weather, lack of time, or location can inhibit one’s time in the wilderness.

    Thankfully, it is easier than ever to introduce flora into one’s home. Plants grown indoors have a variety of benefits. Not only are they the ultimate in functional decorating, but some well-placed greenery can brighten a space, purify the air, and also create a more relaxing, restful ambiance. Studies have also proven that bringing lush greenery indoors can help reduce stress levels, relieve tension, and even help one heal faster.

    Reap the benefits nature can offer by adopting one (or more!) of the following plants into your home.

    1. Aloe Plantaloe1

    Not only is the aloe plant readily available to soothe sunburns, stings, or cuts, it can also detoxify the body and is great for purifying the air. Aloe can help clear the air of pollutants found in chemical cleaning products. An intriguing aspect, when the amount of harmful chemicals in the air become excessive, the plant’s leaves will display brown spots.

    2. English Ivy

    According to NASA, English Ivy is the number one houseplant to grow indoors due to its incredible air filtering abilities. It is the most effective plant when it comes to absorbing formaldehyde, and is even easy to grow. An adaptable plant, it can be hung and perched on the floor and prefers moderate temperatures and medium sunlight.

    3. Rubber Tree

    If your green thumb is less developed, the rubber tree may be for you. It easily grows in dim lighting and cooler climates. Plus, the low-maintenance plant is a powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier.

    4. Snake Plant

    A wonderful corner plant, the snake plant can thrive without much light or water. It’s also efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night (while most plants do during the day), therefore one in the bedroom may help you in experience better sleep.

    5. Peace Lily

    This beautiful flower is a wonderful low-maintenance plant to keep in the home. Peace lilies do well in shade and cooler temperatures, and they can reduce the levels of a number of toxins in the air.

    6. Philodendron

    The heart-shaped philodendron is a popular plant choice for indoor areas, as they’re easy to care for and can grow decorative vines. Similar to the English Ivy, they are particularly good at absorbing formaldehyde.

    If properly cared for, they can last for many years and grow with your family. The philodendron prefers moderate water and some sunlight.

    7. Bamboo Palm

    An attractive and soothing plant, the bamboo palm also made NASA’s list of top-ten clean air plants with a purifying score of 8.4. The palm is also quite effective at clearing out benzene and trichloroethylene. Well watered and placed in shade or indirect sunlight, they’ll flourish and intensify the peace in your home.

    8. Spider Plant

    Source: EmeraldTowers.blogspot.com

    Photo: Spider Plant:
    Source: Flickr

    Spider plants are easy to grow and are a popular house plant for many. Not only are they decorative, but they’re also on NASA’s list of the best air-purifying plants. Effective at fighting off pollutants (including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene), they’re a beautiful addition to any home seeking cleaner air.

    9. Golden Pothos

    The pothos is a simple -yet beautiful – plant which also made NASA’s list. It grows best in cool temperatures and in low levels of sunlight. Able to clear formaldehyde from the air, it’s a beneficial plant to have in your living room or as a hanging plant, as the leaves will grow down in cascading vines.

    10. Red-Edged Dracaena

    This vibrant plant can grow to be ceiling height (15 foot dracaenas are common), making it a great plant for decorating and filling up space. It’s beneficial for removing toxins, such as xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air. It flourishes in sunlight and will be a welcome addition in your home.

    Plants offer many amazing benefits; grown indoors, they’ll easily allow you to experience better health, create lush living quarters, and be content in a healthier atmosphere.

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 May 30

    What Element Are You?


    Created By Ariel Banks

    on May 1, 2014

    Fire

    Your element is FIRE. You are passionate, strong and bold. Your determination and vision iare who you are to the core and you won’t let anyone influence you otherwise. You’re independent and responsive when need be. You are a bit brash, and sharp tongued. You could stand to be a little less selfish when dealing with others and trying to find the more calm or peaceful approach to things rather than what gives the most ‘drama’. Aside from that you are seen as a respectable source. You are often misunderstood and few seem to be willing to get to know you past your flame. But you are fiercely loyal to those whom you deem fit to your morals

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 May 29

    Doctor: ADHD Does Not Exist


    Dr. Richard Saul

    March 14, 2014

    Adderall Getty Images

    Over the course of my career, I have found more than 20 conditions that can lead to symptoms of ADHD, each of which requires its own approach to treatment. Raising a generation of children — and now adults — who can’t live without stimulants is no solution

    This Wednesday, an article in the New York Times reported that from 2008 to 2012 the number of adults taking medications for ADHD increased by 53% and that among young American adults, it nearly doubled. While this is a staggering statistic and points to younger generations becoming frequently reliant on stimulants, frankly, I’m not too surprised. Over my 50-year career in behavioral neurology and treating patients with ADHD, it has been in the past decade that I have seen these diagnoses truly skyrocket. Every day my colleagues and I see more and more people coming in claiming they have trouble paying attention at school or work and diagnosing themselves with ADHD.

    If someone finds it difficult to pay attention or feels somewhat hyperactive, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has those symptoms right there in its name. It’s an easy catchall phrase that saves time for doctors to boot. But can we really lump all these people together? What if there are other things causing people to feel distracted? I don’t deny that we, as a population, are more distracted today than we ever were before. And I don’t deny that some of these patients who are distracted and impulsive need help. What I do deny is the generally accepted definition of ADHD, which is long overdue for an update. In short, I’ve come to believe based on decades of treating patients that ADHD — as currently defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and as understood in the public imagination — does not exist.

    Allow me to explain what I mean.

    Ever since 1937, when Dr. Charles Bradley discovered that children who displayed symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity responded well to Benzedrine, a stimulant, we have been thinking about this “disorder” in almost the same way. Soon after Bradley’s discovery, the medical community began labeling children with these symptoms as having minimal brain dysfunction, or MBD, and treating them with the stimulants Ritalin and Cylert. In the intervening years, the DSM changed the label numerous times, from hyperkinetic reaction of childhood (it wasn’t until 1980 that the DSM-III introduced a classification for adults with the condition) to the current label, ADHD. But regardless of the label, we have been giving patients different variants of stimulant medication to cover up the symptoms. You’d think that after decades of advancements in neuroscience, we would shift our thinking.

    Today, the fifth edition of the DSM only requires one to exhibit five of 18 possible symptoms to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. If you haven’t seen the list, look it up. It will probably bother you. How many of us can claim that we have difficulty with organization or a tendency to lose things; that we are frequently forgetful or distracted or fail to pay close attention to details? Under these subjective criteria, the entire U.S. population could potentially qualify. We’ve all had these moments, and in moderate amounts they’re a normal part of the human condition.

    However, there are some instances in which attention symptoms are severe enough that patients truly need help. Over the course of my career, I have found more than 20 conditions that can lead to symptoms of ADHD, each of which requires its own approach to treatment. Among these are sleep disorders, undiagnosed vision and hearing problems, substance abuse (marijuana and alcohol in particular), iron deficiency, allergies (especially airborne and gluten intolerance), bipolar and major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even learning disabilities like dyslexia, to name a few. Anyone with these issues will fit the ADHD criteria outlined by the DSM, but stimulants are not the way to treat them.

    What’s so bad about stimulants? you might wonder. They seem to help a lot of people, don’t they? The article in the Times mentions that the “drugs can temper hallmark symptoms like severe inattention and hyperactivity but also carry risks like sleep deprivation, appetite suppression and, more rarely, addiction and hallucinations.” But this is only part of the picture.

    First, addiction to stimulant medication is not rare; it is common. The drugs’ addictive qualities are obvious. We only need to observe the many patients who are forced to periodically increase their dosage if they want to concentrate. This is because the body stops producing the appropriate levels of neurotransmitters that ADHD meds replace — a trademark of addictive substances. I worry that a generation of Americans won’t be able to concentrate without this medication; Big Pharma is understandably not as concerned.

    Second, there are many side effects to ADHD medication that most people are not aware of: increased anxiety, irritable or depressed mood, severe weight loss due to appetite suppression, and even potential for suicide. But there are also consequences that are even less well known. For example, many patients on stimulants report having erectile dysfunction when they are on the medication.

    Third, stimulants work for many people in the short term, but for those with an underlying condition causing them to feel distracted, the drugs serve as Band-Aids at best, masking and sometimes exacerbating the source of the problem.

    In my view, there are two types of people who are diagnosed with ADHD: those who exhibit a normal level of distraction and impulsiveness, and those who have another condition or disorder that requires individual treatment.

    For my patients who are in the first category, I recommend that they eat right, exercise more often, get eight hours of quality sleep a night, minimize caffeine intake in the afternoon, monitor their cell-phone use while they’re working and, most important, do something they’re passionate about. Like many children who act out because they are not challenged enough in the classroom, adults whose jobs or class work are not personally fulfilling or who don’t engage in a meaningful hobby will understandably become bored, depressed and distracted. In addition, today’s rising standards are pressuring children and adults to perform better and longer at school and at work. I too often see patients who hope to excel on four hours of sleep a night with help from stimulants, but this is a dangerous, unhealthy and unsustainable way of living over the long term.

    For my second group of patients with severe attention issues, I require a full evaluation to find the source of the problem. Usually, once the original condition is found and treated, the ADHD symptoms go away.

    It’s time to rethink our understanding of this condition, offer more thorough diagnostic work and help people get the right treatment for attention deficit and hyperactivity.

    Dr. Richard Saul is a behavioral neurologist practicing in the Chicago area. His book, ADHD Does Not Exist, is published by HarperCollins.

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 May 9

    10 Foods You Should Never Keep In The Fridge


     

    The Huffington Post  | by  Alison Spiegel

    Posted: 05/08/2014 7:00 am EDT Updated: 05/08/2014 12:59 pm EDT

    When it comes to storing food properly, there are many conventions that some people swear by and others will argue ’til the end of time. Do you store bread in the fridge, freezer or in a bread box? Should you store tomatoes in the fridge or on your countertop?

    One of the most-discussed foods in the food storage domain is butter. People have long debated whether or not and how long to keep butter out of the refrigerator. Butter straight from the fridge is too hard to spread, and what good is that? As with many culinary debates, there’s not really a cut-and-dried answer. According to the USDA, you should store butter in its wrapper in the fridge and keep butter out only for 10 to 15 minutes before using, but some cooks will use butter after leaving it out for a week. Because butter is made from pasteurized milk, the chances of contamination are low, says cooking blog The Kitchn. There’s always a risk, however. Salted butter, because of its salt content and water dispersion, runs a lower risk of spoiling and its salt helps keep bacteria away. Anything unsalted, whipped or "light" has a greater risk of contamination. In sum, while we can’t recommend you keep butter out all week, you likely don’t have to worry if you’ve left it out for a couple hours, so long as it’s salted.

    While there may not be a definitively right or wrong way to store butter, there are certain foods that are much more straightforward. Some foods never belong in your refrigerator. Storing these foods in the fridge when you shouldn’t can zap or alter their flavor, or make them go moldy fast. Why risk losing flavor when all you need to do is store your food correctly?

    Chances are you’ve mistakenly been storing some of these foods in your fridge, when you should really being keeping them out on your counter or in your pantry. Here are 10 foods you shouldn’t store in your fridge:

    • 1

      Tomatoes

      Sam Edwards via Getty Images

      Tomatoes will lose all their flavor in the fridge. What’s a bigger crime than that? The cold air in the fridge stops the ripening process, and ripening is what gives tomatoes more flavor. The fridge will also alter the texture of the tomato. According to Harold McGee’s ‘On Food and Cooking,’ the cold temperature breaks down the membranesinside the fruit walls, turning it mealy. Keep tomatoes out in a bowl or basket on the counter.

    • 2

      Basil

      Tom Merton via Getty Images

      Basil will wilt faster if left in the fridge, and it will also absorb all the smells of the food around it. It’s better to keep it out, sitting in a cup of fresh water, like cut flowers. If you want to store basil for a long time, Martha Stewart recommendsblanching it and then freezing it.

    • 3

      Potatoes

      Brian Summers via Getty Images

      Keeping a potato in the cold temperature of your refrigerator will turn its starch into sugar more quickly, so that you’ll be left with a sweet, gritty potato. Instead of putting potatoes in the fridge, store them in a paper bag in a cool — not cold — place. Assuming you don’t have a root cellar — the ideal place for potatoes — store them in a dark place, like inside your pantry. Paper bags work better than plastic because they’re more breathable and the potato won’t rot as fast. Martha Stewart suggestsyou store potatoes at a temperature as close to 45 degrees as possible. All this goes for sweet potatoes too!

    • 4

      Onions

      Jon Boyes via Getty Images

      If you put onions in the fridge, the moisture will eventually turn them soft and moldy. Keep them in a cool, dry place. (You can store scallions and chives in the refrigerator, however, because of their higher water content.) Just keep your onions separate from your potatoes; when stored together, both deteriorate faster.

    • 5

      Avocados

      Thomas J Peterson via Getty Images

      If you want avocados to ripen, definitely don’t put them in the refrigerator. However, if you’ve bought an already-ripe avocado that you don’t want to use right away, that can go in the fridge.

    • 6

      Garlic

      Robert Daly via Getty Images

      Eventually, garlic will start to sprout in the fridge, and it may also get rubbery and moldy. You should instead keep garlic in a cool, dry place.

    • 7

      Bread

      Por Cristi López via Getty Images

      You refrigerator will dry out your bread quickly. Unless it’s sliced sandwich bread that you intend to use within a few days, keep bread out on the counter or in the freezer. You should keep bread that you will eat within four days out, to be sliced when you’re ready to eat it, and you should freeze the rest to thaw and eat later. Bread in the freezer should be wrapped so it retains its moisture, and when you remove it from the freezer, you should let it thaw slowly and completely before eating or toasting.

    • 8

      Olive Oil

      Lilyana Vinogradova via Getty Images

      You should store olive oil in a cool, dark place, but not in the fridge, where it will condense and turn to a harder, almost butter-like consistency.

    • 9

      Coffee

      Adam Gault via Getty Images

      If you leave coffee in the refrigerator, it will lose its flavor and actually take on some of the odors in the fridge. You should store coffee in a cool, dark place, where it will retain its flavor and freshness. You can store larger quantities of coffee in the freezer, however.

    • 10

      Honey

      Ray Kachatorian via Getty Images

      There’s no need to store honey in the fridge — it will stay good basically forever if you simply keep it tightly sealed. Keeping honey in the refrigerator can cause it to crystalize.


    May 1, 2014 Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times

    Want the potential mental and physical health benefits of meditation without the work of chasing away all those intrusive thoughts and feelings? Try laughing, a new study suggests.

    Laughter — the real kind associated with genuine joy and mirth — sets off brain wave patterns quite similar to those generated when experienced meditators ply their mindfulness skills, a new study finds.

    Researchers know that when hooked up to an electroencephalograph, which measures electrical activity among neurons in the brain, those practiced in the art of meditation are able to achieve a brain state of what is called gamma brain wave activity: In it, virtually all of the brain’s higher cortical regions begin to operate on a common frequency, somewhere in the 30- to 40-hertz bandwidth.

    Unlike the dreamless sleep in which alpha brain waves sweep across the brain, or the cacophony of alert mental activity associated with beta brain waves, gamma waves tend to be synchronous throughout the brain. It’s the brain wave pattern associated with cognitive "flow," with being "in the zone," with the highest state of cognitive processing.

    And the gamma brain wave state is as pleasurable as it is powerful: The neurochemical dopamine, the fuel of the brain’s reward circuitry, flows freely when gamma waves prevail. That makes gamma, once experienced, a state we want to return to again and again.

    The research was presented in San Diego this week by Dr. Lee Berk, a psychosomatic medicine specialist at Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine. Berk told the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s 2014 meeting that, for 31 university students whose scalps were rigged up with listening electrodes while they watched videos either distressing or comical, unfettered laughter was the thing that brought their brain waves most consistently into a mock-meditative state.

    And fast too. "It took off like a rocket," Berk said. After subjects were settled in front of a humor video they had pre-rated as really tickling their funny bone, the laughing out loud began. And in short order, cortical regions from front to back and ear to ear were humming on a single frequency: gamma.

    The contrast was stark between that electrical brain state and that induced when subjects watched a one-minute video they found distressing. In those cases, Berk said, the brain’s electrical activity varied across regions, but it stayed on average at low frequencies.

    "It was flat-linish," Berk aid, "a sort of shutting-down reaction."

    For the brain-wave-reading sessions, subjects were offered a range of comic and slapstick videos from sources such as YouTube and "America’s Funniest Home Videos." Much of the comedy offered was presented before an audience, heightening, for some, the sense of infectious hilarity. Dark or derogatory humor was not among the choices.

    Among the distressing videos were snippets of horror stories. Among the most commonly cited as most distressing was the raw opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan," in which the Allies’ landing in Normandy, where thousands of soldiers charged to their death, was depicted.

    Meditation, with its well-established benefits, may not be for everyone, Berk said. But humor is certainly within reach for all of us, and in the interest of our health, he said, we should dose ourselves regularly.

    "I’m serious about laughter," Berk said in an interview. It’s medicine, he said. "We need to tune into it and reap the reward."

    (c)2014 Los Angeles Times

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 May 6

    How a Few Species Are Hacking Climate Change


     

    Animals can be surprisingly adaptable—but can they change quickly enough?

    Photo of a snail.

    European larger banded snails (Cepaea nemoralis), such as this one in Italy, with light colored shells are becoming more prevalent over time in the Netherlands.

    PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANCESCO TOMASINELLI, VISUALS UNLIMITED/CORBIS

    Emma Marris

    for National Geographic

    PUBLISHED MAY 6, 2014

    As the Earth heats up, animals and plants are not necessarily helpless. They can move to cooler climes; they can stay put and adapt as individuals to their warmer environment, and they can even adapt as a species, by evolving.

    The big question is, will they be able to do any of that quickly enough? Most researchers believe that climate change is happening too fast for many species to keep up. (Related: "Rain Forest Plants Race to Outrun Global Warming.")

    But in recent weeks, the general gloom has been pierced by two rays of hope: Reports have come in of unexpected adaptive ability in endangered butterflies in California and in corals in the Pacific.

    Two isolated reports don’t, of course, diminish the gravity of the global threat. But they do highlight how little we still know about nature’s ability to cope with climate change.

    "Most of the models that ecologists are putting out are assuming that there’s no adaptive capacity. And that’s silly," says Ary Hoffmann, a geneticist at the University of Melbourne in Australia and the co-author of an influential review of climate change-related evolution. "Organisms are not static."

    Nature on the Move

    That species are on the move is becoming obvious not just to scientists but also to gardeners and nature-lovers everywhere. Butterflies are living higher up on mountains; trees are moving north in North America and Europe. In North Carolina, residents are still agog at encountering nine-banded armadillos, which have invaded the state from the south.

    A 2011 review of data on hundreds of moving species found a median shift to higher altitudes of 36 feet (11 meters) per decade and a median shift to higher latitudes of about 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) per decade.

    There’s also a clear warming-related trend in the timing of natural events. One study suggests that spring shifted 1.7 days earlier between 1954 and 2007. Insects are emerging earlier; birds are nesting earlier; plants are flowering and leafing out earlier. The latest of such natural events studies, out last month, shows that climate change has stretched out the wildflower bloom season in Colorado by 35 days.

    The report last month from a butterfly conference in England was a bit different, however. It concerned the endangered quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), well known for being threatened by climate change. Many experts believed the species was doomed unless humans collected the butterflies and moved them north; their path to higher ground seemed to be blocked by the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

    But at the conference, according to an account in the Guardian, Camille Parmesan of the Marine Sciences Institute at Plymouth University in the U.K., who has studied the quino checkerspot for years, reported that it had miraculously shifted its range to higher altitudes. Furthermore, it had somehow learned to lay its eggs on a new host plant.

    "Every butterfly biologist who knew anything about the quino in the mid-1990s thought it would be extinct by now, including me," Parmesan told the Guardian. (Parmesan confirmed the account for National Geographic, but declined to elaborate until she could publish her own research paper on the subject.)

    Resilience in Corals

    Another uplifting tale of unexpected resilience appeared in Science on April 24. While surveying the waters of the future National Park of American Samoa off Ofu Island, researcher Peter Craig noticed isolated coral pools that were considerably warmer than the rest. High water temperatures can cause corals to "bleach": They spit out the photosynthesizing algae that live inside them, thereby losing both their color and their means of collecting energy. Yet these particular corals didn’t seem to be suffering too much from the heat.

    Marine ecologist Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University in California tested the heat tolerance of some of the Acropora hyacinthus coralsfrom unusually hot pools. He plopped them into a container, then cranked up the heat inside to 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) for three hours. Just 20 percent of the individual coral animals spit out their algae, whereas 55 percent of coral from an otherwise similar but much cooler pool spit out their algae during the test.

    The more revealing test came next. Palumbi took corals from the cool pool and put them in the hot pool. One year later, he measured their heat tolerance—and found it had greatly improved. The heat stress test caused only 32.5 percent of the transplanted corals to spit out their algae, instead of 55 percent.

    Palumbi’s experiment helped teased out the two different mechanisms by which organisms can adapt. Individual transplanted corals were able to adapt to the hotter water, without any change in their genes. Biologists call that phenotypic plasticity.

    But the transplanted corals were still not as good at taking the heat as corals that were native to the hot pools; 32.5 percent of them bleached during the stress test, compared with just 20 percent of the hot-pool natives. That gap might reflect the operation of another mechanism of adaptation: genetic evolution. Over many generations, natural selection may have changed the genes of corals in the hot pools by allowing the most heat-tolerant ones to survive and produce more offspring.

    For the Samoan corals in a warming ocean, the combination of plastic adaptation and genetic evolution could be "the difference between dead and more or less unfazed," Palumbi says. The results suggest to him thatprevious predictions of extinction for all coral might be a bit too pessimistic.

    More generally, such individual stories of adaptive ability suggest that the quality of resilience has been left out of our models and predictions about how the natural world will respond to climate change. "I do think there is more hidden adaptability out there," says Palumbi.

    Snails, Salmon, Owls, and Thyme

    So far, evidence of adaptability is available for only a few species. Juha Merilä of the University of Helsinki in Finland, who edited a special issue of the journal Evolutionary Applications in January rounding up the evidence for such changes, guesses that there are perhaps 20 studies robustly linking adaptation through phenotypic plasticity to climate change, and another 20 or so clearly linking climate change with genetic evolution. But, he says, it’s likely that this is a tiny fraction of the species in which adaptation is occurring.

    There are better data on shifts in ranges and the timing of events, thanks in part to citizen science efforts like Project Budburst and the Great Backyard Bird Count. But these studies don’t prove whether the shifts are due to plasticity or genes, or even that climate change is the underlying cause—they’re just highly suggestive correlations between rising temperatures and the location and behavior of species.

    Among the most solid examples of actual evolution in response to climate change is a shift in the proportion of European larger banded snails (Cepaea nemoralis) with light colored shells. Shell color is genetic, and the genes responsible are known. It has been shown that, in a given environment, snails with light colored shells have a lower body temperature than those with dark colored shells. And light colored shells are becoming more prevalent over time in the Netherlands, even in wooded, shady environments where you might expect dark shells to dominate.

    A few other studies have caught species actually evolving in response to climate change. Pink salmon in Auke Creek, Alaska, which is heating up .03 degrees Celsius (.054 degrees Fahrenheit) per year, are now migrating out of the creek earlier, and scientists have shown that that change is genetic.

    Wild thyme (Thymus vulgaris) in France has evolved in response to fewer extreme cold events since the 1970s, producing more pungent oils to deter herbivores (at the cost of becoming less cold-hardy).

    Tawny owls (Strix aluco) can be light gray or brown, depending on the genes they inherit from their parents. As snow cover in Finland has declined since the late 1970s, the light gray owls, best camouflaged during snow, no longer have much of an advantage, and scientists have shown that brown owls are now much more common.

    Such studies require patience. "It is really hard to get the evidence because you need long-term studies and it is very hard to make science over these kinds of periods," says Merilä. The snails have been studied for at least 45 years, the owls for 36, and the salmon for 32.

    And such studies also leave unresolved how one ought to feel about these subtle transformations. When we see spring springing earlier or snails changing color, should we mourn the changes as sad, human-caused degradation, or embrace them as evidence of plucky nature fighting back? "A bit of both," says Hoffmann. "We have to accept that things will change."

    "I think we should feel impressed by the impact that we have, that we can change the course of evolution around us by the way we change the environment," says Menno Schilthuizen, who studies how invertebrates adapt to climate change at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands. "Our impact is much further and deeper than we tend to think."

    Some Will Die

    Researchers on this topic are quick to point out that evolution and individual plasticity won’t save all species. Climate change is happening too fast, they say, for some species to survive.

    Hypotheses abound on which species are likely to keep up with climate change. Species with short lives, like fruit flies, have more generations in which to evolve, compared with long-lived species that don’t begin to breed for decades. And some species, like some conifer trees, simply have more gene variants to work with in their populations.

    Conversely, long-lived species with low genetic variability—including many rare mammals—will have less adaptive ability. "In general, you might expect that weedy, short-lived species and ones that are able to disperse widely might be favored," says Steven Franks, who studies how plants adapt to climate change at Fordham University in New York.

    There’s also a widespread but still poorly tested hypothesis that tropical species may have a harder time evolving than temperate species do. Having evolved in a region with less climate variability over both the years and the millennia, tropical species may harbor a less diverse set of genes related to heat tolerance and similar traits. "The tropics are hot, but they are not particularly variable," Hoffmann says. "It is not like they are being challenged all the time."

    Predicting which species will survive on their own can help researchers zero in on which species might benefit most from human help. A key goal of such an intervention would be to bring back genetic diversity to small, isolated populations so that evolution has something to work with. "Where we have a fragmented landscape, we should connect it up again, restore the flow," says Hoffmann. "We are restoring a process, and that process is really powerful."

    Where it’s not possible to connect fragmented populations with contiguous habitat, "restoring the flow" could mean moving seeds or individuals from population to population. In dire cases, Hoffmann says, conservationists might want to create hybrids of two related species or subspecies, if each one is insufficiently able to adapt on its own. "People think ‘genetic pollution!’" he says. "But you could achieve a lot in terms of saving these populations."

    Palumbi, meanwhile, thinks the adaptability he found in Samoan corals won’t save them as much as provide a grace period; eventually, he says, human-made climate change could outstrip the corals’—and many other species’—ability to adapt.

    "That delay of a couple of decades is the good news here," he says. "Let’s use the decades to solve the problem." And when he says "the problem," he means the root of the problem: carbon emissions


    Brian Feldman

    Image AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

    Two studies published on Sunday assert that the blood of young mice “reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains.” Vampirism and immortality are one step closer to being actually, scientifically linked. It’s like a horror film but way worse, because isn’t real life actually the scariest horror show of all?

    The experiments focused on how effective stem cells are over time. When cells die, stem cells produce new ones to replace them. As organisms get older, scientists determine that stem cells do not die off in aging creatures, but the instructions they get sent are what fail.

    To test this a decade ago, researchers performed a procedure called parabiosis, stitching two mice—a younger one and an older one—together in order to share blood. The older mice grew new cells at a rate akin to more youthful mice, and the younger mice aged prematurely.

    The most recent studies focused on a protein known as GDF11, the levels of which decrease in mice as they age. In one study, the authors hypothesized that the protein would increase blood flow within the brains of mice, allowing new neural tissue to grow. They were proven correct, and the mice, whose senses of smell had deteriorated, regained that sense.

    In the other study:

    When they surgically conjoined old and young mice so that they shared blood, the satellite cells in the old mice exhibited “restored genomic integrity.” Their satellite cell DNA was indistinguishable from the DNA in young mice, the authors wrote.

    This is pretty cool, but as a reminder: these experiments were performed on mice. Not humans. Do not consume human blood in the hopes that it will make you younger.

    It is very weird that I feel the need to write that but I will do it again, just in case: Do. Not. Consume. Human Blood.

    Yet.


    New York City’s water is undeniably delicious, but you’ll never guess what little bugs are swimming around in your everyday drinking tap.

    These delicious invisible shrimp—and filled with tiny crustaceans called copepods.

    shrimp2

    shrimp3

    Don’t let the headline scare you. Copepods are completely harmless (and really tiny), and are actually doing your water good.

    A distant relative of the lobster- copepods are the not-so-natural-born killers that are being used to fight mosquitoes, keeping water sources clear.

    Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, so copepods are being released into places where standing water collects — in tires, containers in backyards and junkyards, at construction sites and in road-side ditches.

    Think of them as invisible shrimp who make NYC tap water taste fantastic. Like fantastic, quenching shrimp juice.


    New York City is one of the largest cities in the world with rich culture and history. This can also make New York very strange at times.  Below are 41 random facts about that Big Apple that will blow your mind.

    1. Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Bryant Park used to be cemeteries.

    sqpark[Photo via]

    2. There are 20,000 bodies buried in Washington Square Park alone.

    3. It can cost over $289,000 for a one-year hot dog stand permit in Central Park.

    4. The city of New York will pay for a one-way plane ticket for any homeless person if they have a guaranteed place to stay.

    5. On Nov. 28, 2012, not a single murder, shooting, stabbing, or other incident of violent crime in NYC was reported for an entire day. The first time in basically ever.

    6. In New York City there are more than 26,000 people living in each square mile.

    7. It takes 75,000 trees to print a Sunday edition of the New York Times.

    8. New York City has more people than 39 of the 50 states in the U.S.

    9. There is a birth in New York City every 4.4 minutes.

    10. There is a death in New York City every 9.1 minutes.

    11 .New York City’s subway musicians actually go through a rigorous selection process. Many of the musicians have even performed at famous venues such as Carnegie Hall before moving to the subways.

    subwayband[Photo via]

    12. There’s a man who mines sidewalk cracks for gold. He can make over $600 a week.

    13. About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.

    14. The borough of Brooklyn on its own would be the fourth largest city in the United States. Queens would also rank fourth nationally.

    15. New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia.

    16. New York has the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world.

    17. More than 47 percent of New York City’s residents over the age of 5 speak another language other than English at home.

    18. New York’s Central Park is larger than the principality of Monaco.

    19. Women may go topless in public, providing it is not being used as a business.

    20. Manhattan’s daytime population swells to 3.94 million, with commuters adding a net 1.34 million people

    21. New York City served as the capital of the United States in the 1780s before it was moved to Philadelphia and then Washington D.C.

    22. There was one homicide on 9/11, and it remains unsolved.

    23. Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are stored in a safe deposit box in the city.

    24. New York City’s Chinatown is the largest Chinese enclave in the Western Hemisphere.

    25. Phantom of the Opera is currently the longest running show in Broadway history, with over 9100 performances.

    26. The Federal Reserve Bank on New York’s Wall Street contains vaults that are located 80 feet beneath the bank and hold about 25 percent of the world’s gold bullion.

    goldbars_thumb [Photo via]

    27. Central Park was the first public landscaped park in all of the United States.

    28. The Jewish population in NYC is the largest in the world outside of Israel.

    29. New York City’s 520-mile coastline is longer than those of Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco combined.

    30. Cleopatra’s Needle, a 3,000-year-old Egyptian ruin, can actually be found in New York’s Central Park. In 1879 it was given to the city as a gift by the Khedive of Egypt. The 220-ton, 66-foot-high monument took a decade to be fully transported.

    31. Sixty percent of cigarettes sold in NYC are illegally smuggled from other states.

    32. There are tiny shrimp called copepods in NYC’s drinking water.

    33. 100 million Chinese food cartons are used annually in New York City.

    34. There is a secret train platform in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

    35. From 1904 to 1948 there was an 18th Street station on the 4/5/6 line. It’s abandoned now, but you can still see it on local 6 trains.

    hiddentrain

    36. Annual location shoots on the streets of New York number 40,000 — including commercials, feature films, television shows and series, music videos and documentaries.

    37. The Big Apple is a term coined by musicians meaning to play the big time.

    38. New York City taxi cabs are yellow because according to car salesman John Hertz (1907), yellow is the easiest color to spot at a distance.

    39. On a clear day, the Empire State Building offers 80 miles of visibility, which encompasses parts of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

    40. The Manhattan grid pattern produces an effect known as “Manhattanhenge” (like Stonehenge) as, on two days – around May 28th and around July 12th – sunset is directly aligned with the street grid pattern.

    This means the sun can be seen setting exactly over the centerline of every Manhattan street. A similar effect occurs during sunrise on two winter days, understandably less popular.

    41. The scary nitrogen gas tanks you see on the corners of streets are used to keep underground telephone wires dry.

    tanks


     

    Apr 25, 2014 William D’Urso, The Orange County Register

    A robotic space plane is speeding in low Earth orbit at this very moment. Some say it’s a weapon; others, a data-gathering mission. There’s one fact most agree on as the plane hits 500 days in space: Its real purpose is a mystery.

    The Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Space Vehicle, constructed in California, is one-fourth the size of the Endeavour Space Shuttle.

    The Air Force craft, purely a test vehicle that will never reach production, in part aims to explore reusable space-vehicle technologies. That means the robotic vehicle can land, but no one will say when.

    What could it be?

    "That question implies that it has a single, rational mission. And I don’t think it does," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org. "I think it was basically just intended to bewilder the Chinese."

    Others speculate the craft could be some sort of intelligence-gathering tool. The Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit based in Broomfield, Colo., published a 2010 report on the craft. It speculated the space plane’s most likely purpose was for intelligence gathering and said the vessel had a low probability of other uses, such as satellite repair.

    Whatever its real purpose, the X-37B has very real capabilities. It travels low in orbit, staying around 110 to 500 miles above the Earth at a cruising speed of about 17,500 mph. It’s equipped with special heat-shield tiles for re-entry, which are billed by Boeing as tougher than Endeavour’s.

    And this isn’t the first time the craft has launched, either.

    On April 22, 2010, the X-37B rode a rocket into the sky before landing Dec. 3. It took off again Dec. 11, 2012, and the plane has now been circling the planet for 500 days.

    The Air Force launched a second craft of the same model May 5, 2011. It landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012.

    To Pike, the craft’s purpose is all about keeping the United States the most technologically advanced nation in the world.

    "There are two things we can do to keep it that way. One, do things that keep us ahead of them (technologically), and another way is to do things that bewilder them and cause them to waste money," Pike said. "The program has been around for a long time and at one time or another has gotten funding from just about everyone in Washington."

    But the government’s treatment of the project poses questions. Though it’s advertised as a secret project, Boeing releases pictures and more than two pages of details on the X-37B. In contrast, the secret, super-fast Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was not declassified until decades after it had been used in the Vietnam War.

    Steven Aftergood, a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists and an expert on secrecy, said the publicity of the craft raises many questions and provides few answers.

    "It’s a puzzle," he said. "Generally speaking, there are a couple of ways that the secrecy of the program could be justified: if disclosure enabled adversaries to defeat the program, or to diminish its effectiveness, or if it made it possible for others to replicate the technology."

    It’s not clear when that puzzle will be solved or when the true purpose of the somewhat secret project will be unveiled.

    "It’s a wilderness of mirrors," Pike said.

    (c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

    Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at http://www.ocregister.com

    Distributed by MCT Information Services

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 April 22

    Scientists have found a potential cure for Ebola


    Tuesday, 22 April 2014

    Working in a secretive quarantined lab, scientists in the US have discovered a small molecule that saves monkeys and rodents from one of the world’s most terrifying viruses.

    Giovanni_Cancemi_Ebola_shutterstock

    Image: Giovanni Cancemi/Shutterstock

    Ebola and related viruses cause hemorrhagic fever and death through organ failure, and can have a mortality rate of up to 90%, among the highest of any known human disease.

    But researchers working in a high-contaminant biological laboratory maintained by USAMRIID at Fort Detrick in Maryland, US, may have found a potential cure, they’ve reported in Nature.

    The scientists have discovered a molecule, named BCX4430, which looks a lot like the "A" that makes up DNA: adenosine. Adenosine is one of four base pairs in DNA, and is also used in the genomes of RNA-based viruses, such as Ebola.

    But because BCX4430 looks so much like Adenosine, the scientists found that members of the Filoviridae virus family, such as Ebola, can accidentally use it as a building block when trying to grow inside our cells.

    This is a deadly mistake, writes RealClearScience, as BCX4430 blocks virus growth and reproduction and stops the virus in its tracks.

    In the study, the team gave Macaque monkeys effected with the deadly Marburg virus (a close relative to Ebola) two doses for BCX4430 a day for 14 days.

    The monkeys who weren’t given any of the treatment were dead by day 12, whereas all but one monkey who was given BCX4430 survived, even if they only received treatment 48 hours after they were infected.

    Luckily, only virus cells appear to be tricked into using BCX4430, and human and monkey cells do just fine with the molecule around.

    In vitro experiments also suggest that BCX4430 could potentially be used against a wide range of viruses, including SARS, influenza, measles and dengue.

    It’s too early to get excited just yet, with no human trials yet conducted. But the newly discovered molecule holds the greatest potential we’ve ever seen for curing these terrifying diseases.

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 April 19

    Garlic Day


     

    Garlic Day

    Dates
    • 19th Apr, 2014

    For one day only, put aside your concerns about bad breath and indulge in twenty-four hours of delicious, garlicky goodness – it is Garlic Day, a day to recognise this pungent little clove. The origins of this obscure holiday might not be entirely clear, but its purpose is obvious: take to the kitchen and celebrate the many uses of garlic by cooking up a feast of festivity!

    Try your hand at whipping up a much loved classic – perhaps toasty garlic bread, or tender roasted garlic – or get creative and go for a more outlandish recipe (garlic-infused ice cream anyone?). True fans will also relish the opportunity to promote garlic’s health benefits, as this wonderful bulb has been proven to aid the management of high blood pressure and cholesterol. So what are you waiting for – why not join in the celebrations and pop a clove or two into your meal today?

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 April 18

    Review: With Galaxy S5, Samsung proves less can be more


    Apr 16, 2014 Salvador Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

    Samsung Electronics Co. has produced the most formidable rival yet to the iPhone 5S: the Galaxy S5.

    The device, released over the weekend, is the fifth edition of the company’s successful line of Galaxy S smartphones. Its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, sold more than 10 million units worldwide just one month after being launched last year.

    The Galaxy S5 may be more of an incremental step forward from its predecessor and will face more competition from capable, lower-cost devices. But the new Galaxy is expected to be one of the highest-selling phones in the U.S. this year.

    "At the end of the day, it’s the Galaxy brand, and with the push it will have in marketing, I’m sure the phone will sell well," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at consumer research firm Kantar World Panel. "Is it going to do more than the S4? I think the market is tougher this time around."

    With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is showing that less can be more.

    A year ago, Samsung tried to blow away consumers — as well as its chief rival, Apple Inc.’s iPhone — by packing seemingly every feature known to man into one device. The Galaxy S4 was a success, but consumers struggled to grasp the full capabilities of the device.

    To improve user experience, Samsung has gone the opposite way with the Galaxy S5.

    It consolidated many features into more understandable groups and eliminated other features altogether. The deleted features are still available to users through downloads so that customers can add features one by one, introducing themselves to each element over time.

    This makes the Galaxy S5 a smartphone that is a lot easier to get to know than its predecessor.

    Rather than trying to explain hundreds of features, Samsung instead focused on a few that make this device stand out from its peers. The phone has a top-notch screen, great durability, an improved camera, a long-lasting battery and useful health tracking capabilities.

    With the Galaxy S5’s 5.1-inch 1080p HD screen, Samsung knocks it out of the park in screen quality, delivering a display with sharp colors that are perfect for viewing videos and photographs.

    The Galaxy S5’s screen is slightly larger than the GS4’s 5-inch screen, so the phone is a little longer. But it’s easier to hold thanks to a grippable back cover with faux leather.

    But when it comes to design, Samsung is still outflanked by Apple and HTC, which just released the highly stylish One (M8). If looks are important, buy an attractive case or pick another smartphone.

    What the Galaxy S5 lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in durability.

    The phone is now rated for Ingress Protection 67, which means it is dust- and water-resistant. Samsung says the phone can be kept under as much as 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. In practical terms, IP 67 ensures that the phone won’t be damaged by rain or an accidental drop in a toilet.

    I tested the feature by rinsing it under a faucet and dipping it in a glass of water. It kept working just fine.

    Samsung also improved the phone’s camera, upping the rear lens to 16 megapixels from 13. The device takes some of the best photos of any camera phone, delivering images with vibrant colors.

    Its Phase Detection Autofocus software enables the camera to focus three times faster than other smartphones, according to Samsung. I’m not sure whether it lives up to those stats, but the Galaxy S5 did focus pretty quickly.

    The phone also can shoot photos in burst mode using high-dynamic range, or HDR, imaging, which combines multiple images into one with high-quality lighting throughout. Previously, users could shoot photos in HDR mode, but not in rapid sequence.

    The camera also includes a new Shot & More mode, which lets customers use one of five nifty effects. On the Galaxy S4, one effect had to be picked before taking a photo. The process is now reversed so customers can shoot first and pick the effect later.

    The battery on the Galaxy S5 lasts longer than its predecessor. And a new Ultra Power Saving Mode helps extend each charge by shutting off nearly everything on the phone except messages, calls and the ability to surf the Web.

    The new power-saving feature also conserves energy with a black-and-white mode that uses only some pixels on the screen. That provides about 24 hours of battery life even after the phone has fallen to the last 10 percent of its charge.

    Samsung has given the Galaxy S5 a healthy dose of fitness help. Like the Galaxy S4, the phone includes a pedometer and the S Health fitness app, which enables users to input what they eat. The Galaxy S5 also includes a heart-rate monitor so users can check their heart rate by launching the app and placing an index finger on the monitor.

    The new smartphone also has caught up with the iPhone 5S by adding fingerprint technology that lets users unlock their phones by scanning a finger over the home button.

    The nation’s four major cellphone carriers are offering the Galaxy S5 for $200 to $250 with two-year contracts or up to $660 to buy the phone without a contract.

    (Salvador Rodriguez: salvador.rodriguez@latimes.com)

    (c)2014 Los Angeles Times

    Visit the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com

    Distributed by MCT Information Services


    Ukrainian photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko documented the everyday lives of snails in their delicate worlds using macro photography. You can see more of Mischenko’s stunning images of insects, reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures on his website and on Facebook.

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Vyacheslav Mishchenko

    Credit: demilked.com

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 April 16

    France lost 2,300 tubes of a deadly virus


     

    Test tubes at the infectious diseases unit at the Tourcoing Hospital, in  northern France on May 14, 2013 .  (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Test tubes at the infectious diseases unit at France’s Tourcoing Hospital on May 14. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

    In the world of European medical research, few names carry more clout and prestige than the Institut Pasteur. In 1983, the French non-profit discovered HIV, and three years later found another strain of the disease. It has posted groundbreaking research in the study of diseases from yellow fever to tetanus to diphtheria. In all, its scientists have netted numerous Nobel Prizes, one of which came in 2008.

    Now it’s in the news for something equally remarkable — but for a very different reason.

    Days ago, the Paris institute announced that it lost more than 2,300 vials of SARS, a disease that killed more than 770 people and infected 8,000 more a decade ago, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

    A routine inventory turned up the disappearance of the tubes. The institute suspects they’ve been missing since January, and as of Wednesday morning, no one knows what happened to them.

    When scientists realized the vials had gone missing, they called France’s drug and health safety agency to see if it would have any more luck. It didn’t, reports the Local. Last week, the agency looked for the 2,300 missing vials in what the Institute calls an “in-depth” investigation at an unnamed lab.

    But don’t worry, Pasteur says. “The tubes concerned have no infectious potential,” its statement said. “Independent experts referred by health authorities have qualified the risk as ‘nil.’”

    Scientists dismissed the possibility that someone could put the virus to nefarious use.

    “We knew from the beginning that the samples were not infectious, as the independent experts confirmed,” said Christian Brechot, Pasteur’s president, in an interview. He added that a malfunctioning freezer door would have killed the virus.

    “[But] losing the samples is an unacceptable mistake,” he said. “We took a decision to inform the public. We want to be perfectly transparent. It is the first time that the institute has lost samples in this manner.”

    Nonetheless, the disappearance of a deadly respiratory virus isn’t the sort of thing one shrugs off. The disease ripped through China in 2003 and hopped to Taiwan and Singapore, where dozens more died before it was stamped out.

    It’s anyone’s guess what happened to the missing vials. ”The theory of human error is the most probable, but we are not ruling anything out,” Bréchot said.


     

    Zak Cheney-Rice's avatar image By Zak Cheney-Rice April 10, 2014

    It’s no secret that interracial relationships are trending upward, and in a matter of years we’ll have Tindered, OKCupid-ed and otherwise sexed ourselves into one giant amalgamated mega-race.

    But what will we look like? National Geographic built its 125th anniversary issue around this very question last October, commissioning Martin Schoeller, a renowned photographer and portrait artist, to capture the lovely faces of our nation’s multiracial future.

    Here’s how the "average American" will look by the year 2050:

    Image Credit: National Geographic

    And like this:

    Image Credit: National Geographic

    And this:

    Image Credit: National Geographic

    Wow. These are obviously not Photoshopped projections, but real people, meaning tomorrow’s America lives among us now in every "Blackanese," "Filatino," "Chicanese" and "Korgentinian" you meet at the DMV, grocery store or wherever it is you hang out.

    Their numbers will only grow. The U.S. Census Bureau let respondents check more than one race for the first time in 2000, and 6.8 million people did so. By 2010 that figure had increased to nearly 9 million, a spike of about 32%.

    This is certainly encouraging, but there are obvious flaws with tracking racial population growth through a survey that lets people self-identify, especially since so many familial, cultural and even geographical factors influence your decision to claim one or multiple races. Complicating things further is the definition of race itself: It has no basis in biology, yet its constructions, functions and mythologies irrevocably shape the world as we know it.

    So is an end approaching? Will increased racial mixing finally and permanently redefine how we imagine our racial identities? The latest figures suggest we’re getting more comfortable with the idea, or perhaps that we simply give fewer shits than ever before. Either would be a step in the right direction.

    The Wall Street Journal reported a few years back that 15% of new marriages in 2010 were between individuals of different races. It’s unclear whether they’ve included same-sex unions in the count, but as currently stated, this number is more than double what it was 25 years ago. The proportion of intermarriages also varied by race, with "9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians [marrying] outside their ethnic or racial group." Interracial unions now account for 8.4% of all marriages in the U.S.

    Image Credit: Wall Street Journal

    In addition, more than 7% of the 3.5 million children born in 2009, the year before the 2010 census, were of two or more races.

    The future: As for how this looks moving forward, studies have repeatedly shown that young people, especially those under 30, are significantly more amenable to interracial relationships than older adults, while college grads are more likely to have positive attitudes toward them than those with only a high school diploma. What does this mean for Millennials? As a population composed largely of over-educated 20-somethings, our generation is primed and expected to play a major role in populating this projected future America. That goes double if you live in a Western state, where people intermarry at higher rates; Hawaii is winning at the moment, with 4 of 10 new marriages identifying as interracial.

    This doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine, rainbows and butterflies, however. Stark segregation still plagues many parts of the country. Poverty remains a barrier to social mobility and its consequent opportunities to interact with a diverse range of people. Sadly, the inequalities that shape American society as a whole are equally present in interracial relationship patterns. Time will tell if this holds for the long term.

    But in the meantime, let us applaud these growing rates of intermixing for what they are: An encouraging symbol of a rapidly changing America. 2050 remains decades away, but if these images are any preview, it’s definitely a year worth waiting for.

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 April 10

    Ten Fossil Creatures That Look Like Aliens


    Brian Switek

    Outdated (but still terrifying) reconstruction of Helicoprion

    Considering future scientific discoveries, the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane wrote “the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” But that statement applies as much to the past as the future. As paleontologists continue to chip away at the fossil record they are continuing to find organisms that no one ever could have ever expected. And if life on Earth can be so strange, what might these creatures mean for different evolutionary paths taken on other planets? As you go about inventing fauna for your own sci-fi worlds, here are some mind-bending critters to keep in mind.

    Opabinia

    Opabinia

    Opabinia by Nobu Tamura

    To borrow a line from Nigel Tufnel, “No one knows who they were, or what they were doing.” With five eyes perched on short stalks, wings of segmented exoskeleton, and a pincher-tipped schnozzle hanging out in front, Opabinia was among the oddest of Cambrian oddballs. The 505 million year old fossil is so strange, in fact, that paleontologists initially couldn’t figure out where it fit in the tree of life. Today it seems most likely that little Opabinia was most closely related to the forerunners of arthropods, even if it looks like it looks like it would be more at home in the seas of Titan.

    Uperocrinus

    Uperocrinus

    Uperocrinus marinus

    At first glance, a crinoid might look like a feathery plant with fuzzy arms radiating from an anchoring stalk. But they are actually animals—relatives of sea urchins and starfish—that are some of the greatest survivors of all time. Aside from the species that populate the world’s oceans, crinoids have been filtering food from the seas for over 480 million years. Some of the strangest of all lived in the distant past. Uperocrinus nashvillae, a species dating back to over 323 million years ago, looked like invertebrate impressions of a morning star—knobbly, club-like, and adorned with spikes to keep hungry snails away. Not a crinoid you’d want to cross.

    Thylacoleo

    Thylacoleo

    Thylacoleo by Nobu Tamura

    Thylacoleo was the closest thing to the Australian myth of the drop bear. Belonging to the same group of marsupials as kangaroos and koalas, this leopard-sized carnivore sheared through flesh rather than leaves—piercing prey with pointed incisors and slicing muscle with cheek teeth that resemble meat cleavers. And with strong forearms and retractable claws, this deadly mammal likely capable of climbing trees to get the jump of the unwary Ice Age mammals it lived alongside. For an otherworldly predator, you could do a lot worse than Thylacoleo.

    Therizinosaurus

    Therizinosaurus

    Therizinosaurus from DinoWiki

    Dinosaurs did weird pretty well, but there was hardly a species stranger than Therizinosaurus. Roughly the size of a Tyrannosaurus, this 70 million year old theropod was a long-necked, tubby, feather-covered herbivore equipped with insane, Freddy Krueger-style claws. What the dinosaur used those claws for is unclear—perhaps spearing fish, stripping bark, or slapping around tyrannosaurs that got too close. Regardless, out ideas about what a dinosaur is would surely have been shaped differently if Therizinosaurus and its kin had been discovered earlier in the history of paleontology.

    Pterodaustro

    Pterodaustro

    Pterodaustro by Nobu Tamura

    Avatar’s “Ikran” weren’t doing anything that pterosaurs hadn’t done better. The flying reptiles—not dinosaurs, but rather close cousins—soared through the Mesozoic skies on wings of skin supported by ridiculously-elongated fourth fingers. That made pterosaurs odd enough, but the 105 million year old Pterodaustro was especially strange. This pterosaur had a long, slightly-upturned mouth with bristly filaments sticking up from the lower jaw. Along with stomach stones that Pterodaustro used to grind food in its stomach, this suggests that the pterosaur fed by filtering tiny invertebrates out of freshwater lakes. Pterodaustro—the terror of plankton.

    Platyhystrix

    Platyhystrix

    Platyhystrix by Nobu Tamura

    How do you make an amphibian look flashy? Put a sail on it! After all, that technique worked for b-movie makers who wanted to turn lizard and alligators into faux-dinosaurs, but the 300 million year old amphibian Platyhystrix had the style down all the way in the Permian. The question is why the stumpy, 3-foot-long amphibian had evolved such impressive ornamentation. Regulating body temperature is the traditional hypothesis, but showing off for members of its own species can’t be ruled out, either.

    Kutchicetus

    Kutchicetus

    Kutchicetus by Wikimedia user Noles1984

    The evolutionary transition from land to water—repeated over and over again through time—does weird things to vertebrates. A prime example is Kutchicetus, a 47 million year old fossil whale that looked more like a long-snouted otter. The mammal probably swam like an otter, as well—undulating its spine up and down to propel itself after fish and other small prey. While not a direct ancestor of today’s cetaceans, Kutchicetus was nevertheless a sort of evolutionary experiment in whaleness as these mammals became ever-more suited to life in the water.

    Erbenochile

    Erbenochile

    Erbenochile from Paleontology Museum of Zurich

    Everyone loves trilobites. How could you not? The prolific arthropods had a good run during prehistory and have become fossil icons. And while they all adhered to the same basic body plan, some of these segmented invertebrates had some especially strange modifications. Erbenochile, a trilobite that crawled over the sea floor 385 million years ago, saw through dozens of lenses packed on tall, crescent-shaped towers that were its eyes. This arrangement was so effective that Erbenochile could see 360 degrees around, giving it a heads’ up on any predators that might swim by.

    Helicoprion

    Helicoprion

    Helicoprion by Dmitry Bogdanov

    For fishy weirdness, you can’t beat Helicoprion. For over a century paleontologists puzzled over whorls of teeth that seemed to belong to some kind of shark that swam seas all over the world over 250 million years ago, although where those spirals fit on the actual animal was hard to say. Researchers put them everywhere from the tail fin to the snout before experts arrived at the conclusion that the blade of teeth must have fit in the lower jaw. Finally, in 2013, paleontologists unveiled the true nature of Helicoprion—a snub-nosed ratfish that lacked teeth in the upper jaw and held that peculiar buzzsaw upright in the lower jaw. How Helicoprion used that peculiar weapon on the squishy cephalopods of its time is currently open to speculation.

    Atopodentatus

    Atopodentatus

    Atopodentatus by Nobu Tamura

    Atopodentatus had zipper jaws. A 245 million year old marine reptile, Atopodentatus had a split, downward-curved upper lip lined with tiny, needle-like teeth. There’s no animal alive today with such a jaw, so how this marine reptile fed is a mystery, but the paleontologists who described the animal think that Atopodentatus might have grubbed through muddy sea bottoms to filter out crunchy little crustaceans. And if a creature so odd as Atopodentatus could go undiscovered for so long, who knows what else the fossil record has in store for us?

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 April 10

    Fruits


    Fruit definition from the CRC Dictionary of Agricultural Sciences.

    Fruit. 1: the ripened ovary of a flower together with any accessory parts associated with it.
    2: a vernacular term applied to the fleshy, edible, ripened ovary of a woody plant or vine.
    3: to bear fruit
    4: crop, yield, harvest.
    5: the mature ovary of a plant or animal.
    6: the consequence or outcome of a behavior, labor, or activity.
    accessory fruit. a fruit in which tissue other than that of the ripened ovary forms
    a conspicuous portion. Apples, figs, and strawberries are examples in which the true fruits (the seeds) lie within, or are embedded within, soft edible tissue. aggregate fruit. a fused cluster of several fruits, each of which developed from a single ovary of a single flower, as in a blackberry or magnolia.

    These Everyday Foods Aren’t What You Think They Are

     

    FRUITS VEGETABLES

  • Everyone probably knows that a tomato is really a fruit, but does everybody know how many other foods that we call vegetables are actually fruits? Did you know, for example, that a bell pepper is a fruit?

    There are a number of seriously surprising foods that you probably think you think you know a lot about but in reality don’t fully understand. The terms we commonly use to classify our food — namely our fruits, vegetables, berries, grains and nuts — may be leading you astray.

    Of course there’s a whole genre of processed foods that have misleading names (ahem, bacon bits, which are made of soy protein, not bacon), but that’s a rabbit hole we’d rather not go down today. For the purposes of this post, we’re focusing on produce and grains. There are plenty of natural foods that throw us for a loop.

    Here are 14 foods that aren’t what you think:

    • 1

      A watermelon is a BERRY.

       

      A berry is "a fleshy fruit that has multiple seeds on the inside, embedded in the flesh of the ovary." So technically speaking, a watermelon is a berry!

    • 2

      An eggplant is also a berry.

       

      You read that right. An eggplant is also a berry.

    • 3

      So is a chili pepper.

       

      Chili peppers = berries = mind blown.

    • 4

      Bananas are berries too.

       

      Whoa.

    • 5

      Strawberries, on the other hand, are NOT berries.

       

      Stay with us here… A strawberry does not fall under the definition of a berry because it is not produced by a single ovary. It is an "enlarged stem end, or receptacle, in which are partially embedded the many true fruits… popularly called seeds."

    • 6

      Neither are blackberries.

       

      Blackberries are not berries. Blackberries are not berries. We keep saying it, but we keep not believing it.

    • 7

      And raspberries aren’t berries either.

       

      What is the world coming to?

    • 8

      An avocado is a fruit.

       

      Ok, we can deal with this one at least. A fruit is "the structure that bears the seeds of a plant." The CRC Dictionary of Agricultural Sciences defines it as "the ripened ovary of a flower together with any accessory parts associated with it."

    • 9

      Bell Peppers are also fruits.

       

      Not really into this.

    • 10

      Squash is also a fruit.

       

      When does this insanity end?

    • 11

      So are cucumbers.

       

      Which mean pickles are…

    • 12

      Corn is a grain.

       

      Sorry, grain-haters.

    • 13

      Quinoa is a seed.

       

      Grain-haters, meet quinoa. It’s not the "super-grain" you thought it was. It’s a super seed.

    • 14

      Peanuts are not nuts.

       

      They are legumes. And you can all go home now.

    And to take it one step further, ALL of these things could be considered vegetables. A vegetable is a culinary term — it is not a scientific term and is somewhat subject.

    Vegetable is a culinary term.

    Its definition has no scientific value and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective.

    All parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables.

    Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom, fungi, are also commonly considered vegetables.

    Since "vegetable" is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in referring to a plant part as a fruit while also being considered a vegetable.

    Given this general rule of thumb, vegetables can include leaves (lettuce), stems (asparagus), roots (carrots), flowers (broccoli), bulbs (garlic), seeds (peas and beans) and of course the botanical fruits like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and capsicums.

    Vegetables contain water soluble vitamins like vitamin B and vitamin C, fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A and vitamin D, and also contain carbohydrates and minerals.


    Mér var sagt að pabbi vildi ekki hitta mig – Ég veit betur í dag

     

     

    Þegar ég var barn átti ég fyrst um sinn mömmu og líka pabba. Mamma og pabbi bjuggu ásamt mér í lítilli íbúð í Reykjavík, það er ekki langt síðan þetta var, það er líklega ágætt að taka það fram að við bjuggum enn saman fyrir um 10 árum síðan. Ég og pabbi gerðum stundum skemmtilega hluti saman, ég man eftir því að við fórum í veiðiferðir, göngutúra og stundum tók hann mig með að horfa á fótboltaleik. Ég elskaði pabba og mömmu jafn mikið eins og flest börn gera.

    Ég varð stundum var við leiðindi milli mömmu og pabba og ég man eftir rifrildum en ég hélt að það væri bara eitthvað sem væri eðlilegt af og til. Eftir eitt rifrildið sagði mamma mér svo að pabbi væri fluttur frá okkur. Ég skildi ekki alveg af hverju og leið eins og hann væri að yfirgefa okkur. Daginn eftir, eftir að ég kom heim úr skólanum kom pabbi heim, mamma var að vinna svo við vorum bara tveir. Hann sagði mér að mamma og hann gætu ekki búið saman lengur en að það þýddi ekki að við myndum ekki hittast og að ég mætti koma til hans þegar ég vildi. Þetta róaði mig aðeins og mér leið ekki lengur eins og pabbi hefði yfirgefið okkur.

    Fyrst um sinn kom pabbi alltaf að sækja mig í skólann á föstudögum en ég fékk bara að vera hjá honum til mánudags. Ég fann það mjög fljótt að mömmu var ekki vel við að ég færi til pabba, ég heyrði hana oftar en ekki tala illa um hann við vinkonur sínar og ég fékk stundum að heyra um hvað pabbi minn væri mikill vesælingur. Þetta særði mig mikið og gerði það að verkum að ég þorði aldrei að segja mömmu frá neinu skemmtilegu sem ég gerði hjá pabba vegna þess að ég fékk alltaf slæm viðbrögð, eins og ég hefði sært hana og stundum fór hún að gráta og sagði mér hvað pabbi væri vondur. Ég sagði mömmu að ég vildi fá að vera lengur hjá pabba en aðra hverja helgi frá föstudegi til mánudags. Ég vildi fá að vera jafn mikið hjá þeim báðum en hún sagði að það væri ekki hægt og sagði að það væri betra fyrir mig að vera hjá henni.

    Þegar ég fór til pabba á föstudögum fékk ég aldrei að fara í fötunum sem ég var vanalega í, ég þurft að fara í gömlum og jafnvel rifnum fötum og skóm sem ég notaði ekki lengur. Svona gekk þetta í nokkra mánuði þar til allt í einu mér var sagt að ég gæti ekki farið til pabba lengur og ég og mamma fluttum í annað bæjarfélag. Mamma sagði mér að pabbi væri kominn með nýja konu og vildi ekki hitta mig lengur. Hún sagði mér að hún hefði alltaf þurft að pína pabba til að hitta mig þau skipti sem við hittumst en nú segði hann bara nei. Ég vildi fá að hringja í pabba en fékk það ekki. Mér leið ömurlega, mér fannst eins og ein uppáhaldsmanneskjan í mínu lífi hefði hafnað mér. Pabbi vildi ekki hitta mig.

    Ég fékk reglulega að heyra ljóta hluti um pabba.. hvað hann væri sjálfselskur, að hann ynni of mikið, að hann væri aumingi, vesælingur og að ég væri heppinn að þurfa ekki að alast upp með honum. Þessir hlutir voru ekki endilega sagðir við mig beint, heldur voru þessir hlutir ræddir með mig viðstaddann. Þetta særði mig mikið en með tímanum fór ég að trúa þessu og varð reiður við pabba. Ég nefninlega vissi það ekki að meðan á þessu stóð var pabbi að berjast fyrir því að fá að hitta mig.

    Pabbi kom stundum á leikvöllinn þar sem ég lék mér og heilsaði upp á mig, hann hefur þá gert sér sérferð í bæinn sem ég bjó í til að hitta mig. Ég var varkár þegar ég hitti hann þar sem ég mundi allt sem mamma og fjölskyldan mín hafði sagt um pabba. Pabbi náði að hafa samband við mig af og til og sendi mér alltaf pakka á afmælum og jólum, það var alltaf eitthvað að því sem hann gaf mér skv. mömmu og það var aldrei nógu gott.

    Það komu helgar af og til þar sem ég fékk að hitta hann, þá oft hafði ég beðið um að fá að hitta hann. Þessar helgar voru góðar en ég var samt sem áður alltaf með þá hugsun að það væri eitthvað að pabba, sú hugsun hafði verið innprentuð í mig. Svo liðu mánuðir þar sem ég fékk ekki að hitta hann og allan tímann hélt ég að það væri vegna þess að hann vildi það ekki.

    Mamma var góð við mig, en í dag er ég reiður við hana fyrir þann tíma sem hún rændi af mér og pabba.

    Eftir að ég varð unglingur náði pabbi að hafa samband við mig þar sem allt var orðið auðveldara, Myspace og Facebook var komið til sögunnar sem auðveldaði okkur margt. Ég vildi í fyrstu ekkert mikið af honum vita þar sem það var enn innprentað í mig að hann væri slæmur maður en ég hafði samt alltaf þennan vilja til að eiga samskipti við pabba minn sem ég elskaði ennþá, þrátt fyrir alla ljótu hlutina sem um hann höfðu verið sagðir. Ég flutti til Reykjavíkur og þá breyttist allt. Ég var orðinn 18 ára og því sjálfráða og nú voru mér og pabba allar dyr opnar. Pabbi hafði mikið samband við mig og bauð mér að búa hjá sér og konunni sinni og tveimur systkinum mínum sem ég hafði aldrei almennilega fengið að kynnast. Ég þáði það og eftir það endurnýjuðum við okkar samband. Pabbi hefur aldrei talað illa um mömmu en það kom að því að ég spurði af hverju hann hefði ekki viljað hitta mig. Það var þá fyrst sem ég fékk að vita hvernig hlutirnir hefðu í raun og veru verið.

    Mamma og pabbi skildu eftir að hafa reynt að hanga saman í 1 ár eftir framhjáhald mömmu. Það gekk ekki upp og mamma endaði sambandið á endanum. Eftir að sambandið var á enda var alltaf erfitt fyrir pabba að fá að hitta mig en eftir að hann eignaðist konu varð allt brjálað og þá fyrst bannaði mamma pabba fyrir alvöru að hitta mig. Pabbi reyndi að sameiginlega umgengni en fékk það ekki eftir að mamma hafði flutt okkur til annars bæjarfélags og því var það ekki lengur hagkvæmt fyrir barn í skóla að fá að vera viku hjá pabba sínum og viku hjá mömmu sinni. Pabbi átti að fá að hafa mig aðra hverja helgi en það var svikið nánast alltaf. Mamma sagði honum að ég vildi ekki hitta sig og að ég hefði ekki gott af því að umgangast hann. Pabbi reyndi alltaf að fá að eiga samskipti við mig og þetta tók mikinn toll af hans fjölskyldu allri. Hann átti þá aðra konu og 2 börn en það vantaði alltaf mig, barnið sem hann fékk ekki að hitta.

    Í dag er ég nýlfuttur út frá pabba, hann hjálpaði mér að koma mér fyrir í leiguíbúð sem ég bý í hér í Reykjavík og við eigum í daglegum samskiptum. Ég elska mömmu líka en ég er enn í dag sár út í hana að hafa rænt mig þessum tíma með pabba. Mamma var ekki sátt við samskipti okkar pabba fyrst en í dag hefur hún sætt sig við þau og beðið mig afsökunar á hegðun sinni. Sú afsökunarbeiðni breytir samt ekki öllum særindunum í æsku og öllum þeim tíma sem ég missti af með pabba og systkinum mínum. Ég upplifði mikla höfnunartilfinningu sem barn vegna þess að ég hélt að pabbi vildi ekkert með mig hafa. Í dag veit ég betur.

    Mig langar bara að benda þeim foreldrum sem ekki eru saman á það að sá sem særist mest er barnið. Barninu þykir jafn vænt um báða foreldra og á rétt á því að umgangast báða foreldra. Kerfið í dag er mæðrum í hag en sem betur fer hef ég heyrt og séð að þetta er að breytast, réttindi feðra eru að aukast en þó vantar enn mikið upp á. Þessi atvik gerðust bara fyrir nokkrum árum, ég er fæddur 1992. Það skiptir engu máli þó særindi séu á milli fyrrverandi maka, það á ekki að bitna á barninu. Það eina sem þú uppskerð með því að beita umgengnisforeldri tálmum er gremja á seinni árum þegar barnið er orðið eldra og áttar sig á hlutunum. Það að tala illa um annað foreldrið er ekkert nema ofbeldi gegn barninu því að því þykir líka vænt um hitt foreldrið.

    Munum þetta fyrst og fremst: Barnið á rétt á að umgangast báða foreldra jafn mikið.


    Antarctic Frozen Moss Brought Back to Life after 1,500 Years, BAS

    Antarctic Frozen Moss Brought Back to Life after 1,500 Years, BAS (Photo : Esme Roads/ British Antarctic Survey)

    Scientists discovered what may be the oldest living plant ever after successfully reviving a frozen moss trapped beneath the Antarctic ice for over 1,500 years.

    Working in the remote environment of Antarctica, the British Antarctic Survey along with Reading University revived a frozen moss back to life after over 1,500 years and what is interesting is that it continues to grow.

    This is the first time that a crucial part of the ecosystem in both Polar regions has displayed an ability to survive the century to millennial scale ice ages. This finding offers novel insight into the survival of life on Earth.

    "This experiment shows that multi-cellular organisms, plants in this case, can survive over far longer timescales than previously thought. These mosses, a key part of the ecosystem, could survive century to millennial periods of ice advance, such as the Little Ice Age in Europe," explains co-author Professor Peter Convey from the British Antarctic Survey.

    The researchers identified regeneration occurring in the moss after 1, 530 years being frozen in the permafrost. This is one of the first studies to highlight the long-term survival in any plant, though similar timescales have been observed in bacteria earlier.

    It is known that mosses can survive  extreme environments short term, previous evidence show a 20-year survival timescale. These small plants are a vital of biology at the Polar regions. They dominate most of the areas and are known to be major stores of fixed carbon mainly in the north.

    "If they can survive in this way, then recolonisation following an ice age, once the ice retreats, would be a lot easier than migrating trans-oceanic distances from warmer regions. It also maintains diversity in an area that would otherwise be wiped clean of life by the ice advance. Although it would be a big jump from the current finding, this does raise the possibility of complex life forms surviving even longer periods once encased in permafrost or ice," explains Professor Convey.

    In this study, the team looked at cores of moss trapped in great depths in the Antarctic. Analyzing the frozen moss they suspect it was decades old when it was initially frozen. The cores was further sliced and placed in an incubator to avoid contamination and provide normal growth temperature and light.

    They noticed that after a few weeks the moss began growing. The team confirmed the moss to be 1,530 years old based on carbon dating.

    Professor Convey adds, "…Understanding what controls their growth and distribution, particularly in a fast-changing part of the world such as the Antarctic Peninsula region, is therefore of much wider significance."

    This discovery offers evidence of the slow decomposition rate that is recognized in mosses. Therefore, the growth of mosses should be encouraged worldwide to help curb the accelerating rate of global warming. It acts as a natural carbon sink.

    This study was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.


    Mark Mendelsohn, a biologist with the National Park Service, examines hundreds of California red-legged frog egg masses collected in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve on March 11, 2014. The egg masses are carefully placed in a temperature controlled cooler for transport to a wetlands 10 miles away. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

    Biologists move 500 red-legged frog eggs to mountain wetlands

    Mar 13, 2014 Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times

    LOS ANGELES–Federal biologists clad in waders and armed with long-handled nets this week moved hundreds of red-legged frog eggs from a San Fernando Valley stream to carefully selected wetlands 10 miles away in the first attempt to expand the threatened species’ range in Southern California.

    Five hundred eggs transported from the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve to the Santa Monica Mountains are expected to hatch any day. When they do, they will reintroduce red-legged frog tadpoles to historic haunts that are free of predatory fish, snails and crayfish that could tear them apart.

    About two years from now, if all goes according to plan, the mating calls of the largest native frog west of the Mississippi will rejoin the natural sounds in remote mountainous terrain where the species has not been seen in nearly half a century.

    The biologists were led by Katy Delaney of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. She waded into a deep rocky pool shortly after sunrise Tuesday and used her fingers to gently coax portions of two submerged egg masses attached to willow branches into plastic containers.

    "Ooh! They’re wily little things!" she said with a nervous laugh, while trying to retrieve a couple of eggs that had slipped through her fingers and were floating downstream. "You’re going to love your new home. Promise."

    The collaborative effort involving the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority aims to return the species, known to scientists as Rana draytonii, to some of the waterways where it thrived for hundreds of thousands of years.

    Since the 1960s, the frog has been decimated by fires, mudslides, pesticides, fungal infections and loss of habitat, as well as the appetites of raccoons and nonnative fish, bullfrogs and crayfish. Today, it exists in about 30 percent of its historic range.

    With skin as permeable as a sponge, the species is susceptible to a skin fungus that has wiped out amphibian populations around the world. The fungus swept through California in the 1960s and 1970s, killing millions of frogs and fragmenting survivors into isolated groups.

    "The few frog populations that survived — including these red-legged frogs — have somehow persisted with the disease," Adam Backlin, a USGS field biologist, said. "They seem to have figured out how to deal with it."

    "So if this translocation effort works, we’ll dispatch them to additional sites in Southern California," Backlin said.

    Moving frogs to conserve them in California has already re-established thriving populations in the Central Valley’s Pinnacles National Park and the Bay Area’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

    (c)2014 Los Angeles Times

    Visit the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com

    Distributed by MCT Information Services

    Posted by: Viktor Mar | 2014 March 8

    8 Things Guys Secretly Love


    Whether a guy is just starting to date a woman or is in a committed relationship with her, there are small things that she may do without thinking twice that guys secretly love.

    While there are many, here are eight to start.

    1) Laying your head on his chest.

    When laying on the couch watching TV or laying in bed after a long day, it’s one of the best feelings when a woman lays her head down on your chest and puts her arm over you.

    As men, we enjoy feeling as though we are being protective, and this signifies that she feels safe in our arms.

    2) When you text him first.

    There is a lot of pressure on guys to always initiate conversation. Sometimes he may not know if he’s being too pushy or texting too much — he might overthink it and not text you at all, which could leave you wondering.

    Guys like to feel affection too, and if he’s really into you, he will be thinking about you. Sending him a quick text will brighten his day and spark a good conversation.

    3) When you tell him you appreciate him.

    Some people are more affectionate than others, and there’s nothing wrong with however you are. Just remember, if a man puts in a lot of effort into your relationship (as he should), he will never complain about hearing how much you appreciate him.

    While he should be able to read your feelings from your actions, some guys need a more direct approach. It will make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    4) Play with his hair while he’s driving.

    I didn’t realize how great this one was until my girlfriend randomly did it one day. If you’re riding shotgun, reach over and lightly scratch the back of his head for awhile. Guaranteed to make him smile. (Don’t distract him too much though, he’s driving!)

    5) Brag about him on Facebook.

    Some girls go overboard with this. Way overboard. But, if your guy does something nice for you, it never hurts to talk about it or snap a photo of the impromptu dinner he had arranged when you got home from work.

    It will show him that you appreciate him and are willing to share your appreciation and love for him with the world.

    6) Really listen.

    Women know better than anyone that really listening isn’t just a passive activity. It’s actually an action and it takes effort. Sometimes a guy has something important going on in his life, is working towards a goal, or is just stressed out about work.

    When you really sit down, keep his eye contact and become genuinely engaged in a conversation about something important to him, it will let him know you care (even if he already does).

    7) Text him when you’re out with your friends.

    I’ve heard some really bad stories about guys who are insanely jealous or don’t "let" their girlfriend go out with friends, and especially with other guys. While I understand the apprehension, a man should be secure enough in his relationship (and trust his girlfriend enough) to not worry every second she is out without him.

    If you have a man who is mature enough to tell you to go have a good time, text him every now and then during the course of the night just saying hello. It will make him smile and let him know that you’re still thinking about him when you’re out.

    8) Be affectionate.

    You don’t have to jump on him in public, but small things like taking his hand while you’re walking, hugging him in line at the grocery store, or hooking your arm into his as you walk into a party, will make him feel close to you and that you’re proud to be with him.

    The little things go a long way.

    *****

    Men are relatively easy to please. When we say that, we mean it. We don’t require a lot to stay happy and we really do love doing things for our girlfriend to make her feel special.

    That being said, relationships are a two way street. The good news is, it doesn’t take grand romantic gestures to make a man happy, just slip a note in his pocket to find during the day, or kiss him on the cheek while you’re watching TV.

    These small things will make him (and you) smile.

    James Michael Sama is a writer, actor and public speaker who writes regularly on his website jamesmsama.wordpress.com.

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