Jul 9
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Cold as ice: Wikinews interviews Marymegan Daly on unusual new sea anemone

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In late 2010 a geological expedition to Antarctica drilled through the Ross Ice Shelf so they could send an ROV under it. What they found was unexpected: Sea anemones. In their thousands they were doing what no other species of sea anemone is known to do — they were living in the ice itself.

Discovered by the ANDRILL [Antarctic Drilling] project, the team was so unprepared for biological discoveries they did not have suitable preservatives and the only chemicals available obliterated the creature’s DNA. Nonetheless Marymegan Daly of Ohio State University confirmed the animals were a new species. Named Edwardsiella andrillae after the drilling project that found it, the anemone was finally described in a PLOS ONE paper last month.

ANDRILL lowered their cylindrical camera ROV down a freshly-bored 270m (890ft) hole, enabling it to reach seawater below the ice. The device was merely being tested ahead of its planned mission retrieving data on ocean currents and the sub-ice environment. Instead it found what ANDRILL director Frank Rack of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a co-author of the paper describing the find, called the “total serendipity” of “a whole new ecosystem that no one had ever seen before”.

The discovery raises many questions. Burrowing sea anemones worm their way into substrates or use their tentacles to dig, but it’s unclear how E. andrillae enters the hard ice. With only their tentacles protruding into the water from the underneath of the ice shelf questions also revolve around how the animals avoid freezing, how they reproduce, and how they cope with the continuously melting nature of their home. Their diet is also a mystery.

What fascinates me about sea anemones is that they’re able to do things that seem impossible

E. andrillae is an opaque white, with an inner ring of eight tentacles and twelve-to-sixteen tentacles in an outer ring. The ROV’s lights produced an orange glow from the creatures, although this may be produced by their food. It measures 16–20mm (0.6–0.8in) but when fully relaxed can extend to triple that.

Genetic analysis being impossible, Daly turned to dissection of the specimens but could find nothing out of the ordinary. Scientists hope to send a biological mission to explore the area under the massive ice sheet, which is in excess of 600 miles (970km) wide. The cameras also observed worms, fish that swim inverted as if the icy roof was the sea floor, crustaceans and a cylindrical creature that used appendages on its ends to move and to grab hold of the anemones.

NASA is providing funding to aid further research, owing to possible similarities between this icy realm and Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Biological research is planned for 2015. An application for funding to the U.S. National Science Foundation, which funds ANDRILL, is also pending.

The ANDRILL team almost failed to get any samples at all. Designed to examine the seafloor, the ROV had to be inverted to examine the roof of ice. Weather conditions prevented biological sampling equipment being delivered from McMurdo Station, but the scientists retrieved 20–30 anemones by using hot water to stun them before sucking them from their burrows with an improvised device fashioned from a coffee filter and a spare ROV thruster. Preserved on-site in ethanol, they were taken to McMurdo station where some were further preserved with formaldehyde.

((Wikinews)) How did you come to be involved with this discovery?

Marymegan Daly: Frank Rack got in touch after they returned from Antarctica in hopes that I could help with an identification on the anemone.

((Wikinews)) What was your first reaction upon learning there was an undiscovered ecosystem under the ice in the Ross Sea?

MD I was amazed and really excited. I think to say it was unexpected is inaccurate, because it implies that there was a well-founded expectation of something. The technology that Frank and his colleagues are using to explore the ice is so important because, given our lack of data, we have no reasonable expectation of what it should be like, or what it shouldn’t be like.

((Wikinews)) There’s a return trip planned hopefully for 2015, with both biologists and ANDRILL geologists. Are you intending to go there yourself?

MD I would love to. But I am also happy to not go, as long as someone collects more animals on my behalf! What I want to do with the animals requires new material preserved in diverse ways, but it doesn’t require me to be there. Although I am sure that being there would enhance my understanding of the animals and the system in which they live, and would help me formulate more and better questions about the anemones, ship time is expensive, especially in Antarctica, and if there are biologists whose contribution is predicated on being there, they should have priority to be there.

((Wikinews)) These animals are shrouded in mystery. Some of the most intriguing questions are chemical; do they produce some kind of antifreeze, and is that orange glow in the ROV lights their own? Talk us through the difficulties encountered when trying to find answers with the specimens on hand.

MD The samples we have are small in terms of numbers and they are all preserved in formalin (a kind of formaldehyde solution). The formalin is great for preserving structures, but for anemones, it prevents study of DNA or of the chemistry of the body. This means we can’t look at the issue you raise with these animals. What we could do, however, was to study anatomy and figure out what it is, so that when we have samples preserved for studying e.g., the genome, transcriptome, or metabolome, or conduct tests of the fluid in the burrows or in the animals themselves, we can make precise comparisons, and figure out what these animals have or do (metabolically or chemically) that lets them live where they live.
Just knowing a whole lot about a single species isn’t very useful, even if that animal is as special as these clearly are — we need to know what about them is different and thus related to living in this strange way. The only way to get at what’s different is to make comparisons with close relatives. We can start that side of the work now, anticipating having more beasts in the future.
In terms of their glow, I suspect that it’s not theirs — although luminescence is common in anemone relatives, they don’t usually make light themselves. They do make a host of florescent proteins, and these may interact with the light of the ROV to give that gorgeous glow.

((Wikinews)) What analysis did you perform on the specimens and what equipment was used?

MD I used a dissecting scope to look at the animal’s external anatomy and overall body organization (magnification of 60X). I embedded a few of the animals in wax and then cut them into very thin slices using a microtome, mounted the slices on microscope slides, stained the slices to enhance contrast, and then looked at those slides under a compound microscope (that’s how I got the pictures of the muscles etc in the paper). I used that same compound scope to look at squashed bits of tissue to see the stinging capsules (=nematocysts).
I compared the things I saw under the ‘scopes to what had been published on other species in this group. This step seems trivial, but it is really the most important part! By comparing my observations to what my colleagues and predecessors had found, I figured out what group it belongs to, and was able to determine that within that group, it was a new species.

((Wikinews)) It was three years between recovery of specimens and final publication, why did it take so long?

MD You mean, how did we manage to make it all happen so quickly, right? 🙂 It was about two years from when Frank sent me specimens to when we got the paper out. Some of that time was just lost time — I had other projects in the queue that I needed to finish. Once we figured out what it was, we played a lot of manuscript email tag, which can be challenging and time consuming given the differing schedules that folks keep in terms of travel, field work, etc. Manuscript review and processing took about four months.

((Wikinews)) What sort of difficulties were posed by the unorthodox preservatives used, and what additional work might be possible on a specimen with intact DNA?

MD The preservation was not unorthodox — they followed best practices for anatomical preservation. Having DNA-suitable material will let us see whether there are new genes, or genes turned on in different ways and at different times that help explain how these animals burrow into hard ice and then survive in the cold. I am curious about the population structure of the “fields” of anemones — the group to which Edwardsiella andrillae belongs includes many species that reproduce asexually, and it’s possible that the fields are “clones” produced asexually rather than the result of sexual reproduction. DNA is the only way to test this.

((Wikinews)) Do you have any theories about the strategies employed to cope with the harsh environment of burrowing inside an ice shelf?

MD I think there must be some kind of antifreeze produced — the cells in contact with ice would otherwise freeze.

((Wikinews)) How has such an apparently large population of clearly unusual sea anemones, not to mention the other creatures caught on camera, gone undetected for so long?

MD I think this reflects how difficult it is to get under the ice and to collect specimens. That being said, since the paper came out, I have been pointed towards two other reports that are probably records of these species: one from Japanese scientists who looked at footage from cameras attached to seals and one from Americans who dove under ice. In both of these cases, the anemone (if that’s what they saw) was seen at a distance, and no specimens were collected. Without the animals in hand, or the capability of a ROV to get close up for pictures, it is hard to know what has been seen, and lacking a definitive ID, hard to have the finding appropriately indexed or contextualized.

((Wikinews)) Would it be fair to say this suggests there may be other undiscovered species of sea anemone that burrow into hard substrates such as ice?

MD I hope so! What fascinates me about sea anemones is that they’re able to do things that seem impossible given their seemingly limited toolkit. This finding certainly expands the realm of possible.

Jul 9
Altered HIV a potential cancer treatment?
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Altered HIV a potential cancer treatment?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

At UCLA, a team of researchers has developed a harmless version of HIV that is designed to seek out, and potentially destroy, cancer cells.

In a laboratory-mouse experiment, the treated cells headed directly for melonoma and lung cancer cells, clustering around them with a surprising level of intuitiveness. Gene therapy for cancer has been at an impasse for the last 20 years, said the team, but now an effective carrier has been found in the most unlikely of sources. Essentially, one of the world’s largest health threats is now being considered to fight another.

Says Dr. Irvin Chen, from UCLA’s AIDS Institute, “The disarmed AIDS virus acts like a Trojan horse, transporting therapeutic agents to a targeted part of the body, such as the lungs, where tumors often spread.”

First the virus’s coating is removed and the virus is reprogrammed so that it recognizes and attaches to the p-lipoproteins of a cancer cell, one of cancer’s primary defenses. The retro-virus was also altered with a fluorescent protein for easy tracking within the lab mice. The next step will be to graft a cancer-killing gene onto the modified AIDS virus’s genetic structure.

Currently, a case of melanoma skin cancer spreading to the lungs is a confirmed death sentence. Should this method of treatment improve into a workable treatment, both life-threatening cancers and the AIDS retro-virus could be effectively neutered. But the team cautions that the treatment is in the very early stages and will take several more years to develop.

Jul 8
UK government plans to replace House of Lords with elected chamber
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UK government plans to replace House of Lords with elected chamber

Monday, March 15, 2010

The UK government plans to replace the House of Lords, the upper house of British Parliament, with a duly elected one to make it “legitimate.” Ministers working on this proposal plan to style this new chamber loosely on the United States Senate.

Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis said on a BBC show, “The time has now come to make it legitimate in the only way that a legislative assembly can be legitimate in the modern world, which is to be elected.” He assured that there would be “firm proposals” for an elected House of Lords in the Labour Party’s manifesto for the general election in May. He added “We can do it in this country as most democracies do it: We’d have two chambers, both of which are elected but with the government accountable to the first chamber.”

The Sunday Telegraph has leaked a plan which reveals that the 704 seats would be reduced to 300 seats and its members elected under a system of “proportional representation”. This new chamber would no longer be known as the House of Lords and citizens will have the privilege to remove incompetent members through a “recall ballot”. The paper reported that each member would serve up to fifteen years and one-third of the chamber would be elected during the usual general elections. The salary is reported to be around £65,000 per annum. All members should be UK residents and fully domiciled for tax purposes.

The Lords scrutinise and revise government legislation and are seen by the public as an undemocratic house or a place for the aristocrats and political appointees. The chamber currently has around 740 members. 92 hold hereditary seats, and 26 are Church of England clergy. The rest are appointed for life.

Former prime minister Tony Blair, with the 1999 House of Lords act, had expelled hereditary peers from the upper house, apart from the 92 permitted to remain in the House on an interim basis. Another ten inheritors were created life peers to be able to remain in the House. Lord Adonis commented that this expulsion had “fundamentally transformed” the chamber into a “workmanlike assembly”.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party (which is the opposition party) alleged that Labour was playing politics with the electoral system by introducing such proposals before the General election despite having thirteen years to reform the Lords. “We will work to build a consensus for a mainly elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords,” he added.

For centuries, the House of Lords had included several hundred members who inherited their seats; the 1999 Act removed such a right. The Act decreased the membership of the House from 1,330 to 669. The Labour Government is expected to present a bill to remove the remaining 92 hereditary peers from the House. It also introduced in 2009 the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill, which would end by-elections to replace hereditaries, removing them by steady reduction instead of removing all of them outright.

Jul 8
British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’
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British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rico Daniels is a British TV presenter living in France who is known for his two television series — The Salvager — whilst he still lived in the UK and then Le Salvager after he moved to France. Rico has been in a variety of jobs but his passion is now his profession – he turns unwanted ‘junk’ into unusual pieces of furniture. Rico’s creations and the methods used to fabricate them are the subject of the Salvager shows.

Rico spoke to Wikinews in January about his inspiration and early life, future plans, other hobbies and more. Read on for the full exclusive interview, published for the first time:

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Jul 3
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Jul 3
Things To Know For Throwing A Baby Shower

Things To Know for Throwing a Baby Shower

by

Melody Thomas

One of the most important days in a person\’s life is the day that their child is born. In most cases, they are going to want to share that special day with you by having a baby shower in advance. Even if they do not schedule a shower, it would be a good idea for somebody within their family or close circle of friends to have one for them. Of course, I\’m sure that you are as interested as possible in making sure that the shower goes off perfectly. Here are some tips to help you to throw a perfect shower that will be remembered for many years to come.

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One of the first and perhaps most important things that needs to be done is to set up a time line. You need to establish that timeline early because you want to make sure that everything falls into place in the time that is necessary. Keep in mind, some children are going to want to show up a little bit early, so don’t schedule the shower at the last minute. You should also ensure that everybody is aware of the shower well ahead of time so that you will have a turnout that will be impressive. The type of gifts that are given at the shower is also going to be something that needs to be considered. Provided it is not a surprise shower, it is a good idea to have the mother register at a local store. Some mothers even register at multiple stores to give more choices to those that are going to be attending the shower. It is also possible for you to purchase other items, such as hooded towels or custom baby bibs that will be appreciated by the new family. It is a good idea to have some games available for the shower. The types of games are going to depend upon the personality of the guests that are visiting. Of course, you would want to avoid any type of embarrassing games or those that would be awkward for the new parents. In addition, you would want to give a choice of many different games to give the opportunity for more people to get involved. It is just one more thing that you can do which will help to make the shower a perfect one. If this is the first child, it may be a good idea for you to give some assistance in setting up the home for the child to arrive. This can be done above and beyond the shower that is given. Make sure that you give attention to the child\’s room, getting it painted and putting everything in place before the child arrives. This not only helps everything to be less stressful but it also is a healthier choice. After all, the fumes from painting can last for quite some time, and you would not want to expose the newborn child to those fumes. Helping the new family with these necessary chores is going to be an act of kindness that will not be forgotten.

The author of this article talks about how to throw a baby shower. She is a mom with expertise in everything from

baby bibs

to

tubbies

from Burps, Bibs and Beyond.

Article Source:

ArticleRich.com

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Jul 3
Iconic London mural could be restored
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Iconic London mural could be restored

Monday, September 20, 2010

One of London’s most well known murals could be restored after years of neglect if plans by a group of community activists gain public support. The Fitzrovia Mural at Whitfield Gardens on London’s Tottenham Court Road was created by two mural artists and commissioned by Camden Council in 1980, but the mural has since decayed and been vandalised.

Plans will be presented at a public meeting this Tuesday, to include details of the restoration and promote local public space in contrast to potential commercial developments and the focus of the London 2012 Olympics. If enough funds are raised from charitable trusts and public donations the mural could be restored during the summer of 2011.

Plans to be put forward by the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, and the London Mural Preservation Society, will present ways to fund not only the restoration work but also projects to raise awareness of conservation, heritage, and the residential and working community. The heritage and mural project hopes to involve many local people who could learn new conservation skills. Also planned are workshops with local children to involve them in their heritage, an exhibition by local artists, guided tours and a celebratory event at the end of the restoration project. In addition to this, a booklet would be produced containing collected oral histories of the people involved and a preservation trust to protect the mural in future years.

The playful painting was created on a Camden Council-owned building in 1980 by artists Mick Jones, (son of the late Jack Jones, trade union leader) and Simon Barber and is a mash up of scenes depicting problems faced by the neighbourhood over the preceding decade.

There is also a caricature of poet Dylan Thomas, who lived in Fitzrovia, and a mocking portrayal of then leader of the Greater London Council, Conservative politician Horace Cutler, who is pictured as a bat-like creature. Other characters include an anonymous greedy developer and a property speculator counting piles of cash.

Peter Whyatt of the neighbourhood association is jointly leading the project to restore the mural. Yesterday he told Wikinews he had a number of concerns about the possible success of the project.

“There are a great number of problems with getting this project off the ground and we also need to act pretty quickly for a number of reasons,” said Mr Whyatt.

“Firstly the mural is in a terrible state and deteriorating quickly. There is more graffiti being daubed on the site every month because one bit of graffiti attracts another bit. We really need to start the work in the next 12 months because going through another winter with the condition of the wall will causes more problems and inevitably more expense. We want to keep as much original artwork on the site as possible to keep the costs down. This is a big mural and it will be expensive to restore,” he continued.

“And that brings me to my second concern: cost. If we don’t get other community organisations on board to bid for money for this with us and to involve their beneficiaries and volunteers, it will be very difficult to secure the money needed. Money is very tight at the moment because to the current financial climate. We need to get support at this meeting on Tuesday and some firm commitments from people and organisations to get involved.

“Lastly there is a danger of a commercial development on the site. A public-private partnership to create a new art feature. Because of the existing mural’s subject matter – it mocks property speculators, and land developers, etc – a commercial scheme probably backed by a property developer would not want to restore the mural’s original message. They’d want some “good news” scheme, some greenwash idea that paints them in a positive light.

“However, despite these problems, Camden Council have offered to do a condition survey on the mural. This will save us a lot of money. But having said that there are five council departments to deal with to get permission for this restoration work, and they don’t always talk to each other.

“But if the public and local voluntary organisations show their support, we can make it happen,” Mr Whyatt concluded.

The mural restoration will be just one part of a year long project of heritage and conservation awareness-raising. “The project is not just about the mural but also wider plans to promote awareness of heritage and conservation in an area of London under threat from commercial development. In fact the bulk of the project is about the heritage and conservation and the mural is just one part of it, and the most visible because of its situation,” Mr Whyatt later added.

There will be a public meeting about the heritage and mural project at 7.30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), at the Neighbourhood Centre, 39 Tottenham Street. The public can also comment about the proposals on the Fitzrovia Heritage and Mural website.

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Jul 3
Controversial melatonin supplements confirmed as sleep aid
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Controversial melatonin supplements confirmed as sleep aid

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA —An analysis of melatonin studies has upheld the controversial supplement’s effectiveness as a sleep aid.

The analysis, which included 17 peer-reviewed scientific papers, was aimed at determining whether supplements of the hormone can improve sleep among insomniacs, older adults and others.

“A meta-analysis essentially tells ‘yes’ or ‘no’—that a treatment does or does not have a significant effect,” says Richard Wurtman of MIT, the study’s principal investigator. “When a meta-analysis says ‘yes,’ there should no longer be any controversy about whether the treatment works.”

Previous studies by Wurtman and colleagues showed that small doses of melatonin, about 0.3 milligrams, are necessary for restful effects. The researchers found, however, that commercially available melatonin pills can contain 10 times the effective amount.

At that dose, says Wurtman, the hormone’s effects end after a few days because melatonin receptors in the brain become unresponsive when exposed to too much of the hormone.

Such inadvertent overdosing, say the researchers, has contributed to controversy over melatonin’s efficacy.

But the new meta-analysis shows that melatonin does indeed have positive effects on sleep—even though some of the analyzed studies also involved high doses of the hormone.

The research is reported in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews.

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Jul 3
Deadly flash flooding hits northwestern Turkey
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Deadly flash flooding hits northwestern Turkey

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heavy overnight rains flooded Istanbul, Turkey, stranding motorists and flooding arterial roads. The floods led to the death of at least 31 people and the cost of damage has been estimated as being in excess of $70 million in northwestern parts of the country.

The flood devastated businesses, swept away cars and swamped houses, roads, and farming land. Fueled by the worst rain in 80 years, waters rose up to six feet (2 meters) high in the city’s ?kitelli district, cutting off the route to Istanbul’s main airport and the highway to Greece and Bulgaria on the European side of the sprawling city.

“We are saddened by the loss of lives. There are still some people missing and we are searching for them,” said Mustafa Demir, the Turkish Procurement Minister, as quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Over 1000 people have been rescued by emergency services, including military helicopters, since the floods began on Tuesday.

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Jul 2
Category:June 1, 2010
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Category:June 1, 2010
? May 31, 2010
June 2, 2010 ?
June 1

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