Ancient Protein Sequenced

first_imgPaleontologists would love to use DNA to study the evolution of long-extinct animals, but genetic material is much too fragile to last very long. Now, scientists have tapped a related, sturdier source of molecular information by studying proteins in fossilized bone. Two bison bones more than 55,000 years old have yielded the first complete amino acid sequences from a fossil, and researchers think the same technique could work for much older specimens.Biochemist Christina Nielsen-Marsh of the University of Newcastle, U.K., and her colleagues borrowed a technique used to analyze modern genetic material and applied it to bison bones recovered from the permafrost of Siberia and Alaska. In the December issue of Geology, the team members report that they isolated a protein called osteocalcin from the bones and recovered the first intact amino acid sequences from an ancient specimen. Because the protein sequence is directly related to the DNA code, the team says that comparing protein sequences–like comparing DNA sequences–is an approach that can be used to determine degrees of relatedness between species and to decipher how ancient animals evolved.In addition, proteins have distinct advantages over DNA, says Nielsen-Marsh. Osteocalcin is bound tightly to minerals in the bone, which makes them very stable. Although DNA can survive only up to 100,000 years and is rarely found in useful quantities in specimens even half that old, the team has found measurable amounts of osteocalcin in 120,000-year-old bones. Nielsen-Marsh estimates that the proteins might survive as long as 10 million years. Their stability makes osteocalcin more likely to endure warmer, harsher environments as well. Contamination–one of the biggest concerns with ancient DNA analyses–is also less likely to be a problem with osteocalcin, because it is found only in vertebrate bones.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)”It’s a very promising preliminary result,” says evolutionary biologist Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. By providing an alternative to DNA, osteocalcin could expand the range of specimens that can be used to test evolutionary hypotheses, he says.Related siteFossil Fuels and Environmental Geochemistry, University of Newcastlelast_img read more

Bush Science Advisers Offer Regrets, Advice

first_imgIt’s not often that White House science advisers suggest how the next Administration might want to do things differently. But that’s what the outgoing President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has done in a candid self-assessment.Released last month, the report acknowledges what was perhaps an open secret: that PCAST, a presidentially appointed advisory group, concentrated on the second half of its name. That bias was tailored to the Bush Administration’s interest in using technology to stimulate economic development, says venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme, its co-chair, adding that the decision was a no-brainer. “If you look at the big issues of the last two decades, especially the concern over energy,” Kvamme tells ScienceInsider, “the role of information technology in our lives, and the promise of nanotechnology, I think you’d have to agree that the solutions will come not from science itself but from its application. And that’s what technology is.”Although Kvamme asserts that the council’s various reports were influential, he sees considerable room for improvement by Harold Varmus and Eric Lander, whom President-elect Barack Obama named to be co-chairs of PCAST along with the next science adviser, John Holdren. Suggested changes range from the size and composition of the council to its interactions with the White House, other federal agencies, and Congress.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)One problem is that PCAST grew too big for its own good, expanding from 22 to 35 members over the Bush presidency. “The current size of PCAST is no longer optimal,” the report notes, suggesting that it could be more productive with 20 to 25 members. As the council grew, it also accumulated too much dead weight. “About a quarter of our members, over time, became inactive,” the report acknowledges. Some of the worse offenders, Kvamme notes, had lobbied the hardest to join the council. “Maybe they didn’t realize how much work they would be asked to do,” he says.Kvamme says PCAST also could have done more after it issued a report. “Maybe it’s not our role, but I think that we should have worked harder to make sure that the Hill understood why we felt so strongly” about certain issues, says Kvamme. He also faults himself for a steady decline over the years in the number of meetings between PCAST and senior White House and agency officials on timely issues. “In the early days, we were briefed regularly on what to look for,” he says. “But once we understood how the process worked, we stopped having those meetings. Maybe we should have continued them.”Having a few more working scientists as members might also have helped PCAST do a better job, Kvamme says. “Charlie [Arntzen, a much-decorated plant geneticist at Arizona State University] was very helpful on many issues. But maybe we should have had a few more like him.” At the same time, Kvamme says that members never discussed whether PCAST should include the rising generation of scientists—Arntzen is 65—and that younger scientists were tabbed for expert panels convened to help write specific reports.Finally, Kvamme says he’s “surprised” that Obama has named two outside co-chairs, both of whom have spent their careers in the life sciences. “There are so many other important issues, like education, energy, information technology,” he says. “And it never crossed my mind to have two co-chairs.”last_img read more

Gordon Brown: U.K. Science Won’t Be an Economic Victim

first_imgChallenging the economic gloom that seems to hit the news everyday, Gordon Brown, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, today assured the scientific community that U.K. research will not be “a victim of the recession.” The pledge came at Oxford University in a lecture addressing science and science education policy in which Brown further promised to keep science funding flowing despite an overstretched government budget. “Some say that now is not the time to invest, but the bottom line is that the downturn is no time to slow down our investment in science,” he said.The prime minister’s speech, “Science and Our Economic Future,” was this year’s Romanes Lecture, an event hosted annually by the University of Oxford since 1892. Previous speakers include notable scientists, authors, and politicians such as Arthur Eddington, W. H. Bragg, Winston Churchill, Karl Popper, Iris Murdoch, and Shirley Tilghman. (Here’s a link to the speech delivered by the prime minister and also a link to an audio file of the speech.)Brown’s address highlighted his vision for science as a driver of the U.K.’s economic future, a desire that has triggered much debate within the scientific community. “The time has come to build a society that seeks high-value engineering, not financial engineering,” Brown remarked, saying that looking for the “the great scientists of tomorrow” should be a “national ambition.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The prime minister pledged the government’s commitment to make science education more accessible to students nationwide and to increase the number of schools offering science courses when students are preparing for A-level exams during the last year of middle school. Brown also said that the new push for science in schools could open opportunities for graduates with scientific and IT backgrounds; he encouraged them to retrain as teachers.Scientists, science policy experts, and educators generally welcomed Brown’s attention to their world, but that didn’t stop several from airing a few complaints about the government’s record on research funding or the lack of specifics on new money in the speech.Physicist Brian Cox of the University of Manchester embraced Brown’s commitments to science but told the Science Media Centre one way the U.K. leader could back up the rhetoric: “What better way for the Prime Minister to signal his intent than to personally sort out the mess that Science and Technology Facilities Council has been in since its botched formation in 2007 and help both organisations [STFC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council] with their small but damaging funding problems,” he asked.Astronomer Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, particularly welcomed the speech’s focus on science education, saying in a statement that he was “delighted that the Prime Minister has thrown his support behind plans to address the lack of specialist teachers in science and maths” and reminded that “the school children of today should be the scientists of the future.”Nick Dusic, director of the Campaign for Science & Engineering in the U.K., was not impressed by Brown’s speech, however. “Just maintaining current spending commitments will mean that we are losing ground against countries, like the U.S., that are giving science a huge boost within their stimulus packages. The government has got the U.K. back in the race to be a world leader in science, but unless it keeps pace we will lose talent and investment to other countries that are following up fine words with hard cash,” he said to the SMC.last_img read more

First Pig Cases of H1N1–and Mixed Views on the Human Outbreak

first_imgThe first pigs infected with the H1N1 influenza sweeping the globe have been found—but they’re a long way from Mexico, the suspected origin of the virus. There’s also some optimism that the human outbreak of the virus is not as threatening as earlier feared.The H1N1 influenza strain that as of today has caused 898 cases in humans living in 18 countries has finally been isolated from pigs, Canadian officials announced last night. The virus had never been found in pigs until now. A farm in Alberta, Canada, became concerned about sick pigs on 24 April, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has since determined that the virus has infected 220 pigs out of a herd of 2200 animals. (An exclusive transcript of a press conference last night with Canadian health officials is after the jump.) The agency suspects that a farm worker who returned to Canada from Mexico on 12 April and went back to work 2 days later infected the pigs. Canadian researchers who did a genetic analysis of the virus in the pig found that it closely matches the H1N1 in humans. This type of transmission of a swine influenza may be a first, says Christopher Olsen, a swine influenza researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “I honestly can’t think of an instance where we saw a swine virus move to humans and move back in this fashion.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)There is much concern that pigs infected with this H1N1 might become infected with a dangerous influenza virus from fowl, like the H5N1 that causes avian influenza, leading to a dangerous superbug. But Olsen says this is unlikely on large hog farms. “Most modern swine production facilities are single species. The days of a small farmer having pigs and fowl and other animals all mixing together is really unusual in terms of modern commercial swine. My opinion is modern swine facilities have better biosecurity than old-time farms.”Olsen also stresses that this finding is more a curiosity than a game changer. “This is an interesting event from a scientific perspective, but I don’t think it changes the current public health priorities at all.”The Canadian finding also dominated a press conference held in Geneva this afternoon by the World Health Organization (WHO). “It is not a big surprise,” said Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food safety scientist. “We expected at some point since this virus has swine virus elements that we would find possible virus in pigs in the region where the virus is circulating,” said Embarek. Canada has quarantined the farm to prevent further spread. Embarek emphasized repeatedly that eating pork does not transmit the virus and that it only presents a danger to pig farmers and slaughterhouses. The farm worker has recovered, Embarek noted. “Also for the animal population, it doesn’t seem to be a very serious disease,” he said.WHO has not yet raised the threat level from phase 5 to phase 6, which would indicate that the H1N1 outbreak is a pandemic. For that to happen, a country in a region outside of the Americas would have to document sustained spread between humans in a community.The Mexican Health Minister, José Ángel Córdova, yesterday said that he believed the outbreak in his country was stabilizing. Mexico now has confirmed 506 cases and 19 deaths. But in a press conference held by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Anne Schuchat, the interim deputy director for science and public health, cautioned people to keep the champagne bottles corked. “I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet,” said Schuchat. Much is still unknown about the virus’s spread or severity, she stressed, adding that they cannot predict what it will do in the future. “We don’t know if the virus will return in the fall and come back harder than it is right now, and of course that’s one of the big concerns.”CDC now reports 226 confirmed U.S. cases and 30 hospitalizations, a dramatic increase from yesterday that she said reflects that health officials are catching up with the backlog of samples rather than an increase in the disease’s spread or its severity. In part this rise is because along with CDC, many state labs can now conduct confirmatory tests. “We know there are lots of probable cases out there,” said Schuchat. “I expect numbers to jump quite a bit in the next few days.”Transcript of News Conference – Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health  – May 2, 2009 – 6:00 p.m.TRANSCRIPTION/TRANSCRIPTIONEVENT/ÉVÉNEMENTDATE/DATE:      Saturday, May 2, 2009; 6:00 p.m., ESTLOCATION/ENDROIT:       Ottawa, ONPRINCIPAL(S)/PRINCIPAUX:        Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health CanadaDr. David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health OfficerDr. Danielle Grondin, Acting Assistant Deputy MinisterDr. Brian Evans, CFIA        Dr. Martine Dubuc, CFIAMr. Tim Vail, Director of Communications for Minister AglukkaqSUBJECT/SUJET:          Minister Aglukkaq holds a news conference/ teleconference regarding the H1N1 flu outbreakMinister Aglukkaq:      Thank you, and thank you all for once again for being here. First, 34 new cases of H1N1 flu virus were confirmed today. This brings the number of confirmed cases in Canada to 85. Thankfully all cases here in Canada remain mild.It is important that Canadians understand that we are taking a coordinated approach to dealing with this outbreak Our government is working together with our partners to respond to the situation at home and internationally. I also briefed the Prime Minister today and he continues to follow the situation.Late yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Harper spoke with Mexican President Calderone to discuss the H1N1 influenza outbreak. President Calderone expressed his deep appreciation for Canada’s assistance which said has been critical to Mexico’s capacity to respond to the situation. They agreed that Canada and Mexico would continue to work together closely to mitigate the outbreak. Canada continues to offer support to Mexico including testing at the National Microbiology Lab and sending two additional scientists from the Public Health Agency to Mexico. As the number of confirmed cases continue to grow, it is more important than ever that we have a clear and coordinated approach to our communication. As we have seen in the past week, Canada is well positioned to deal with this outbreak. We have a national plan and we are implementing it. I also want to thank everyone here today for helping to share the messages about infection prevention, hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with your arms are simple, effective measures that we can all take. Thank you and I would now like to turn to Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer.Dr. Butler-Jones:       Merci Madame la Ministre, et encore merci a tous de nous accorder votre attention.We continue to see mild cases and full recovery in Canada, but our vigilance and efforts need to continue and our heightened surveillance will lead to more and more confirmed cases. This is anticipated and we are prepared to deal with it.Part of our increased surveillance efforts include the sale of both prescription and off the shelf flu medications. Over 3,000 pharmacies across Canada are assisting in this effort. As we previously mentioned, tracking the first 100 cases of this virus, looking at who it affects and how is essential to our understanding of the H1N1 flu virus and to the process of developing a vaccine. Under the direction of Dr. Frank Plummer, scientist at the National Microbiology Laboratory have started full genome sequencing of the H1N1 flu virus. Les scientifiques du Laboratoire national de microbiologie on entrepris le décodage complet du génome. This research is very important. Many people are asking why the virus seems to be much more severe in Mexico while in Canada and in other parts of the world we continue to see mild cases. Genome sequencing of specimens from both Canada and Mexico will help us to understand if the virus has mutated which may help us to explain the increased severity of the cases in Mexico.Canada has also sent a total now of 7 epidemiologists and lab researchers to Mexico to assist in their ongoing disease investigation. Some will be helping with things like lab testing while others will go to say, rural Mexico to help do some disease detective work, like tracking down patient histories to find out where, when and how they were exposed. They are also working with the Mexican Ministry of Health to assist their international public health efforts. As the Minister mentioned, information on confirmed cases in Canada will be updated on a daily basis at 4 o’clock Eastern Daylight Time, and you can visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website at www.publichealth.gc.ca for more information. Now in Canada, we have 34 new cases today of the H1N1 flu virus, 7 in British Columbia, 7 in Alberta, 2 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec and 17 in Nova Scotia. This brings the number of confirmed cases in Canada to 85. Now, while the risk to most Canadians remains low, we all need to practice basic flu prevention techniques always.I would now like to turn to my colleague, Dr. Danielle Grondin.Dr. Grondin:    Merci. Aujourd’hui en fait, je vais prendre seulement quelques minutes pour vous mettre a jour sur la situation au Canada. Trente quatre nouveau cas d’infection au virus influenza H1N1 ont été confirmé aujourd’hui au Canada: 7 en Colombie Britannique, 7 en Alberta, 2 en Ontario, 1 au Québec et 17 en Nouvelle Écosse. Cela porte at 85 le nombre de cas confirmé au Canada. Cette information, c’est à dire le nombre de cas confirmé au Canada sera publié chaque jour sur le site web de l’Agence de la santé publique du Canada at 14h00 heures avancé de l’est. Et maintenant je voudrais passer la parole a notre collègue Docteur Evans.Dr. Evans:      Merci Danielle, thank you David, thank you Minister. My name is Brian Evans. I am the Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada.As Canada’s animal health regulatory agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been playing a supporting role to the Public Health Agency in terms of both technical expertise and collaboration throughout the H1N1 influenza issue. In addition, since April 24, we have been working closely with provinces, territories, the swine sector and private veterinarians in order to enhance the awareness and monitoring of swine herds for any change of health status or illness. Through this very surveillance, and close collaboration with public health authorities the CFIA was informed of a situation involving a Canadian who recently returned from Mexico on April 12 and undertook to do work on a swine farm in Alberta on April 14. This person was exhibiting flu-like symptoms following their return, and may have exposed swine on the farm to an influenza virus. I can tell you that the traveller has recovered. I will let my public health colleagues further address that element of the situation.With respect to the pigs, there were increased signs of flu-like illness after the contractor had been on the farm, but these animals as well are on their way to recovery. Samples from the pigs are being analysed at our shared Winnipeg facility. We have determined that the virus H1N1 Influenza A found in these pigs is the virus which is being tracked in the human population. Further analysis is underway to provide more insight and contribute to ongoing research efforts.Seeing influenza infections in pigs is very common, and the transfer of influenza virus from humans to pigs is known to occur. Pigs are known to be susceptible to influenza viruses from humans, from other pigs, and from birds. Fortunately, infected pigs almost alway recover on their own within a week or so. Whatever virus these pigs were exposed to is behaving in that exact manner as those we regularly see circulating in North America and in swine herds in virtually every nation around the world. Normally, finding influenza in pigs would not generate any specific response from the CFIA, but obviously the situation is somewhat different, and our response aligns accordingly. The herd has been placed under quarantine and we are working with our public health colleagues to determine the most appropriate next steps to ensure that both public health and animal health remain paramount and protected. The chance that these pigs could transfer a virus to a person is remote, nevertheless we are following an appropriately measured approach.I want to be clear right now that there is no food safety concerns related to this finding. Consumption of pork is not considered a route of transmission to humans. The World Health Organization and other authorities all agree on this point. These animals are not a food safety risk. The CFIA is closely collaborating with public health officials to investigate any other situations where people with flu like illness may have had contact with swine. In addition, it is important to note that pigs in Canada are tested and monitored for influenza viruses on an ongoing basis across the country. Unfortunately, we have already seen certain trading partners implement trading restrictions based of the detection of H1N1 influenza virus in humans. We do not believe such restrictions are warranted. This is not simply our view, but that of the international science reference bodies for human health, the World Health Organization, and animal health, the World Health Organization for Animal Health.The key here is that influenza virus do not affect the safety of pork, therefore, we are calling on the international community to ensure that they base their decisions on facts not fears. This is not the time for the international community to establish precedence which serve to confuse rather than inform the pubic. On this matter, I am pleased to report that Minister Gerry Ritz has had discussions with his counterpart, Secretary Vilsack in the United States and has been assured that this in no way changes the trading relationship between our countries.I want to thank you for the opportunity to share this information with the public and we will continue to keep Canadians apprised as we move forward.Thank you and I would like to introduce my colleague Dr. Martine Dubuc.Dr. Dubuc:      Madame la ministre, messieurs les journalistes, l’Agence canadienne d’inspections des aliments en tant qu’autorité réglementaire relative à la santé animal collabore avec l’Agence de santé publique due Canada pour offrir le support scientifique et technique au regard de l’influenza H1N1. Depuis le 24 avril dernier, l’Agence canadienne a rehaussée son niveau de surveillance et travail de façon très étroite avec les provinces, les territoires, l’industrie porcine, et les médecins vétérinaires en pratique privé afin d’améliorer la surveillance dans les troupeaux de porc mais également dans l’ensemble de la population animal au Canada.Au cours de cette période de surveillance mené en étroite collaboration avec les autorités de santé publique, l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments a été informé qu’un canadien revenu du Mexique le 12 avril a travaillé sur une exploitation porcine en Alberta. L’individu ayant séjourné récemment au Mexique présentais des symptômes similaire à ceux de la grippe. Par conséquent, les porcs de cette exploitation agricole pourrait donc avoir été exposés au virus de l’influenza A H1N1. Cet individu a eu des symptômes similaires à ceux de la grippe, mais actuellement est rétablit et nos collègues de la santé publique expliqueront d’avantage cette aspect de la situation. Quant au porc de l’exploitation agricole, après la visite de ce travailleur sur la ferme, ils ont commencer a présenter les symptômes respiratoires similaire à ceux de la grippe, mais ces porcs sont également aujourd’hui en voie de rétablissement. Dans le cas de son investigation, l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments à pris des échantillons provenant des porcs et les analyses on été fait à notre laboratoire à Winnipeg. Jusqu’à maintenant, les analyses ont détectées la virus du de l’influenza A H1N1. Le laboratoire effectue toutefois d’autres tests pour continuer a améliorer ses connaissance et comprendre la nature de ce nouveau virus. Il n’est pas anormale ou exceptionnel de dépister le virus de l’influenza A chez les porcs. Il arrive même parfois que le virus soit transféré des humains à des porcs. Les porcs peuvent également contracter le virus de l’influenza A car ils sont aussi vulnérables à ce virus qui peu être transmit par les humains, par les porcs, mais également les oiseaux.Les porcs infestés infectés se rétablissent presque toujours d’eux même à environ une semaine. Le virus donc qui a infecté le troupeau actuellement en question se comporte de façon similaire à d’autre virus d’influenza A qui circulent régulièrement en Amérique du nord. Normalement, d’habitude l’Agence ne prend pas de mesures particulières lorsqu’on constate des cas d’influenza A dans les élevages de porc. Toutefois, la situation actuelle est bien sûr bien différente, et c’est pourquoi actuellement, le troupeau a été placé en quarantaine. Nous continuons de collaborer avec nos collègues de la santé publique en vue de définir les mesures appropriés a prendre pour protéger la santé publique et la santé animale. Les risques que ces porcs transmettes le virus à des personnes actuellement sont très faibles. Néanmoins, nous poursuivons et suivons une approche prudente et approprié. Je veut préciser aussi clairement que cette situation ne pose aucun danger pour la salubrité des aliments. La consommation de porc n’est pas considérée comme une voie de transmission du virus. L’Organisation mondial de la santé et d’autres responsables sont unanimes sur ce fait. Encore une fois, ces animaux ne constituent pas un risque pour la salubrité des aliments. L’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments collabore étroitement avec les responsables de la santé publique pour enquêter sur d’autres situations ou des gens manifestant des symptômes semblables à ceux de la grippe pourraient avoir été en contact avec des porcs.Il est important de noté que les porcs au Canada sont également régulièrement testés et subissent des épreuves de dépistages de l’influenza partout au Canada. Malheureusement, actuellement, certains de nos partenaires commerciaux ont déjà imposés des restrictions commerciales liées au virus influenza A H1N1. Nous ne croyons pas que ces restrictions soient justifiés. Ce point de vu est partagé par des organismes internationaux de référence scientifique dans le domaine autant de la santé humaine que la santé animal. Le point a retenir est que les virus de l’influenza n’ont aucune incidence sur la salubrité du porc, et par conséquent, nous demandons à nos partenaires commerciaux fondé leur décision sur les faits et non la peur. Aujourd’hui le Ministre Ritz a parlé au secrétaire américain de l’agriculture, Monsieur Tom Vilsack pour informer nos voisin américain de la situation. Il s’est assuré que les producteurs de porc canadiens continuerons d’avoir accès au marché américain.J’aimerais vous remercier de nous avoir donné aujourd’hui cette occasion de partagé avec vous ces renseignement avec le publique, et nous continueront de tenir les canadiens de tout faits nouveaux sur cette situation.Mr. Vail:       And now we are ready for your questions. Please limit your questions to one and one follow-up. Si vous avez des questions juste poser deux, s’il vous plaît.Question:       Brian with CFRB, Toronto, CJD, Montreal. You said that for several days that eating pork is not a problem. You said today that transmission swine to human is not a problem, but you have to realize that this will scare people, freak them out a little bit when they hear that pigs got it from humans even if it may be sound normal to you, to the average person they may not know that. So how do you reassure them today that well it won’t happen the other way, that it’s for greater concern?Dr. Butler-Jones:       Certainly, two things about that I guess, firstly as it’s been said, we do see from time to time and this is something that people would not know that in fact human viruses can be spread to pig. We do see that from time to time. Occasionally we do see swine viruses in humans, but again maybe once a year in Canada. So it’s not a common event, but it does occur. And so we would expect to actually see this at some point in the whole process with a new human virus. In the situation of sort of reassurance, one of the reasons for watching this very closely is because of the potential for passing the virus back from pigs to humans. And so that’s something we need to be very careful about. That’s part of the reason why the farm is quarantined, that’s why there is a close collaboration between public health and CFIA. The point being though, we are not seeing this virus anywhere else in Canada in pigs. We do not see this as a risk passing and certainly in terms of the eating of pork that is not a problem. And if you ate it before, there is absolutely no reason not to eat it today. Dr. Evans:      Thank you David and we appreciate the question and I would add to that again, just to re-emphasize we live in a one health, one world reality. Bacteria, viruses, pathogens, they are not overly selective to any species if they can find a way to multiply. And so as David indicated this finding in itself is not an outstanding or an unusual event even specific to this particular virus circumstance. I think it’s also important for people to bear in mind the reality again that what we are dealing with here is a fairly unique circumstance having had the exposure in Mexico directly with the swine heard. And we can assure that across the board in Canada since the 24th of April, farmers across this country are re-enforcing bio security guidelines. There has been a lot of publicity around issues of people how they should go on to farms, how they come off of farms being distributed by both veterinary practitioners and with producers through the industry. A lot of information out there, of how producers out there can make sure that their premises are in fact well secured from any further exposure. As we have indicated in this particular farm, this is a vertically integrated farm, it has piglets that move through this farm, there is no sales off this farm to any other farm in Canada. There are no purchases onto this farm from any other farm in Canada. So again we believe that the containment that is place, we are dealing with is a very unique event. In all fairness, I want to give full credit to the veterinary profession and to the Province of Alberta for what I think was outstanding early detective work, early detection and early reporting which we all collectively agree as how we will manage on a go forward basis.Question:       As far, you said there is a concern that you want to monitor the potential for this to switch back and forth. Is that a concern that once it passes from human back into pigs then it mutates and becomes more difficult for you to track and deal with it. You’ve got 2 different strains out there in the human population?Dr. Butler-Jones:       So far basically what we are seeing in the pig is the same strain as we see in the humans. The concern is that if it’s circulating in a pig herd that any other humans come onto the farm might be exposed and be at risk, so we want to protect them against that. At anytime, not just in the situation but on anywhere we know that this is a very, very adaptive virus that can at any point recombine with a mix of human, pig, or bird gene material. And so that’s something we are constantly watching for. It’s not a common event that you see that where it’s adapted to humans. I mean the last time that we saw a virus spread this easily, a new influenza virus different from anything we’ve seen was in the 1960’s really, so it is, it’s not common but it’s unpredictable. So that’s why we watch it very carefully.Question:       Julie Van Nussen, CBC. This is very confusing, all of it. I don’t get most of it. But the point is, if people can have this virus to pigs, why can’t pigs pass it back to people?Dr. Butler-Jones:       Well they could, that’s why on this farm, because it’s a human virus, so the difference, what you have to think about this virus which is essentially a human virus spreading from person to person that can in this case we’ve shown, in fact a herd of pigs. Whether it can move from pig herd to other pig herds, that we don’t know yet, but it’s an isolated case on this farm. That does not mean that other viruses are transferring from pigs to human. So in this specific instance we know it’s a human virus that can spread. It’s in a pig so if it came back, if some other human handled that pig while it was ill, or was, droplets got them in their mouth or eyes then potentially that person could infected from that pig with this virus which is a human virus. So that’s what we need to be focussed on.Dr. Evans:      I would just add to that, thank you for the question again, I would just add to that, that David indicated at this point an time the issue of being a human virus having been introduced to the pigs and the characterization of this virus shows that it is still that virus. There has been no adaptation identified through the transfer from human to the pigs at this time. So it doesn’t change its expression in humans subsequent to that. What is really important I think also to understand, then again I think this is where Canada benefits over so many other countries is the fact that we have the Winnipeg lab facility with the co-location of both the public health and animal health components of this. And the research that’s already been initiated there will actually move into these areas to determine whether this virus can be spread from swine to other swine, whether this virus can be adapted to birds, whether it can be adapted to horses, other species that do circulate influenza viruses. That’s part of the research that is being done and we are uniquely positioned in Canada in the Winnipeg facility.Question:       So your saying you don’t know a lot about this is all working, so what makes you think that people would be convinced that it’s safe to eat pork?Dr. Evans:      Well again, I think I come back to the fact that influenza viruses has been reported, has circulated in swine populations on an ongoing basis for many, many decades. It’s been well researched, by studies, by world organizations, by the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, other organizations that have all unanimously come to the conclusion that consumption of pork is not a risk factor for transmission of influenza virus from swine to human.Question:       This strain though H1N1 this has been found in pigs before?Dr. Evans       No we are saying that this particular virus based on what we are seeing clinical expression at this point and time, the introduction of the virus into the pig herd, the pigs have responded in the same way that they have responded to every other swine virus, or circulating influenza virus. Mild respiratory signs, mild appetite loss, mild fever with recovery within the expected time frame. So the early indications are this virus does not affect pigs in any way differently. We will be doing more work in that area obviously. But also from the pork perspective I think people have to bare in mind that pigs that are submitted to slaughter in Canada as in many countries are subjected to clinical inspection on arrival to verify health status. Pigs that are notably distressed are not illegible to be slaughtered and as they go through the slaughter process there is veterinary inspection that looks issues and with the removal of lungs and those tissues, if there is any evidence of pneumonia or abscesses or that sort of thing, those pigs do not get into the feed supply.Question:       Once those pigs are well, will they be okay to eat. Will you sell them to eat?Dr. Evans:      As I said earlier there has no decision taken at this time in terms of where we will go beyond the quarantine that we are currently at.Question:       If you are so sure they are going to be okay, why can’t you just sell them for people to eat?Dr. Evans       Again I think there are other factors that we have to consider and this beyond simply the animal health and food safety factors. We have to look at the animal welfare issue of this particular farm and their ability to hold pigs to market weight with restrictions that are in place. We have to look at the impact on the producer, we have to look also at also in the circumstances David had said. We want to get a better understanding with this virus having been introduced to pigs is an opportunity over time that this virus could recombine or resort. Those sort of considerations would also be part of a go forward decision.Question:       But would you eat those pigs?Dr. Evans       Can we keep it to just one….Question:       I want to know, I want to know. You need to clear this up. Those pigs are sick, you are treating them. They are going to get better. You are telling us it’s okay to eat pork, I just want to know would you eat those pigs once they are better?Dr. Evans       As I’ve indicated these pigs are responding well, they are regaining their clinical health without treatment as pigs would do and my estimation on that is this pig situation and the time that has passed and with all the factors at play, I would have no issue eating pork from these pigs. That’s my personal position. But again I think we have to be able to go further than my personal position and demonstrate to the Canadian public and the global public that we are treating this thing with due respect for all factors that have to be considered.Question:       Steve Reddie from the Canadian Press. I wonder if you could give some more information about the particular herd that was affected, the size of the herd, when they started to show signs of the flu, whether other people on that farm decided that when that farm hand got sick and whether they have tested positive for the swine flu (inaudible)?Dr. Evans       I’ll try to make sure Steve that I’ve got all of those questions captured to the best of my ability. As we’ve indicated clinical, the exposure on the farm took place on the 14th of April, the issue of their change in health status occurred around the 24th, 25th of April, with subsequent recovery in the 5 days that followed from that. The operation itself, as I’ve indicated is what we call farrow to finish, so this breeder has his own sows on the farm which have young pigs which he keeps on the farm, grows them out and their only exit from the farm on a rotational basis as the young pigs come through the older pigs meet market weight, and they are shipped out for slaughter as their end destination.The size of the operation, it has currently on the farm about 220 sows and piglets and 1,800 growing pigs that are in various stages of their growth.Dr. Butler-Jones:       One other person on the farm had symptoms, has been tested, we don’t have the results of the test. Mild illness and recovering as we’ve seen elsewhere. So even if it is this virus that seems to be a continuing pattern.Question:       What about, I guess the assumption was always that the virus may have started in pigs and then transmitted to humans and then humans started passing it on each other as a humans virus. Does that, does all this change your assumption at all about whether it did really started in pigs way back when and then?Dr. Butler-Jones        What we are learning all the time, as I’ve said before, the influenza virus is very adaptive, very innovative. Again the question is, it’s not a pig virus because we are not seeing it circulating in pigs. So it’s a recombination of a number of sort of the North American strain that’s been circulating for a long time, your Asian strain that we have not seen circulating in North America. So where that came from and how it adapted into humans, we haven’t even found this virus previously in pigs other than in this situation where it came from a human, as a human virus. So we still have a lot to learn about this, but I wouldn’t presume, I mean it’s a swine in terms of it’s, the components of the virus are largely from pigs originally. But did it mutate in a pig or did it mutate in a human combined with some other elements of a human that allowed to adapt, that we don’t know. We may never know, but certainly it’s shown itself with it’s ability to be a human virus and that’s really what we are dealing with at this point and more will come as we understand the virus better.Question:       Hi, Sharon Kirky with CanWest News. You talked about the size of the operation, can you tell us how many pigs are actually infected with the virus?Dr. Evans:      Again the information that we currently have is there were no deaths on the farm associated on the pig side and about 10% of the pigs showed some indications of what we would normally attribute to flu-like symptoms.Question:       And is this the first known case in the world of the countries that are experiencing outbreak of human swine influenza where you’ve seen the flu infect a pig?Dr. Evans:      That’s true, this is the first detection that has been made and I think that’s reflective of the two primary issues. One is the circumstance of exposure that took place. I know other countries are actively looking and I come back to the fact that I think Canada is probably strategically advantaged in this way again because of the co-location of the Winnipeg lab. We are probable one of the first countries that were able to extrapolate a diagnostic test that had been developed on the human side to the pigs circumstances. In most other countries in the world you would not that close animal health, public health collaboration, so I think we have diagnostic tools currently which other countries may not be applying to their surveillance program. And I think it’s Canada part of our leadership is, we will be undertaking to share those tools to help countries in their effort as well.Question:       And the last question. Are you concerned that you, you know what might happen here is you have countries saying they are going to refuse to buy our pork products because of this. How do you address that?Dr. Evans:      Well again even in advance of the finding of the human transfer to pigs, we have started to see some of that reaction in certain countries. I think we respond to it in several ways. Many of those countries took those  positions in advance of having found human cases themselves. You know I think part of that is the sobering effect of now saying well we have the same circumstance in our country. Are we messaging in the appropriate way? And so, what’s our rationale for taking this decision based on science and human health protection and consumer interests or were there other factors there?. So we are hopeful that that message will continue to sink in. At the same time we will continue to work with the world organizations both at WHO and through the world organization for animal health the OIE to make sure that information is shared with all countries on a transparent and open basis of the work that we have done. I think Canada has had over the past number of years between the challenges we’ve had with avian influenza, BSE circumstance. I think we’ve built up a very strong credibility around the world for how we respond when diseases are found. I think that stands us in good stead. The countries based on the fact that we have been able to demonstrate that this is contained at this point to a single farm. No outlying contacts. I think people viewing that information that understand the dynamics of this virus will come to the conclusion, in fact, that we’ve done what the world community would expect us to do, and that we expect that they will recognize it accordingly.Question:       Are you considering slaughtering the pigs?Mr. Vail:       I’m sorry that’s going to have to conclude our press conference today, thank you very much.last_img read more

A Human Genome in Record Time

first_imgA new type of technology has sequenced a human genome in a month and for less than $50,000 worth of reagents, according to a report today in Nature Biotechnology. But this step toward fast, cheap genomes doesn’t spell the end for large sequencing centers.Human genomes produced to date have all required many instruments running in parallel and have cost up to $500,000 per genome, says Stephen Quake, a biophysicist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and founder of Helicos Biosciences of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The HeliScope Single Molecule Sequencer is the first commercial single-molecule sequencing instrument, so called because it does not require the production of millions of copies of the target DNA for the analysis. Instead, DNA is cut into small pieces and mounted at very high densities in a flow cell, where a very sensitive camera monitors the step by step addition of bases for each sequencing reaction. In the new paper, Quake (left) and colleagues report how the machine generated enough data to cover the 3-billion base human genome 28 times over. That sequence data consisted of short stretches of sequences 24 to 70 bases long, which were compared with the reference human genome sequence in public databases to piece together Quake’s own genome. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) The demonstration brings “plug and play” sequencing one step closer to reality, wherein individual labs will be able to do what today is accomplished primarily in large sequencing centers. “This is the main coming out party for the Helicos machine,” says Jeffery Schloss of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. However, the machines cost $1 million. That’s several times the price of other sequencing machines, notes Schloss. While such machines hint at a future where individual labs sequence large genomes, Schloss emphasizes that large centers will continue to play a role in improving technologies and their uses and developing analytical tools for genome projects. Photo Credit: S. Quake/Stanfordlast_img read more

Data Breach Embroils Climate Scientists

first_imgHackers who breached East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit servers have provided explosive new fuel in the climate data wars. The data exposed in hundreds of megabytes stolen from the research center include more than a thousand e-mails among climate scientists, many of them prominent, and dozens of files. The information has inspired a feeding frenzy among bloggers who oppose the standard line on climate change. Top scientists who are quoted include Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and Kevin Trenberth and Tom Wigley of NCAR. The discussions in them—likely released with timing aimed to undermine the process in Copenhagen—include debates over the inadequacy of scientific reviews, efforts to interpret climate data, and discussions on deleting e-mails after receiving Freedom of Information Act requests that could conceivably get some of the scientists in trouble.RealClimate’s take is here. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

U.K. Research Council Protected by Funding Changes

first_imgBritain’s beleaguered Science and Technology Funding Council (STFC), the government body which funds astronomy, particle and nuclear physics, and space science in the U.K., is to get new funding arrangements. The new setup is intended to allow the voracious needs of large-scale research facilities do not squeeze out grants for university-based researchers. Announced today by science minister Paul Drayson, the new arrangements will create a separate funding stream for Britain’s domestic large facilities and a mechanism—still to be worked out—to protect the Council budget from currency fluctuations. Those rises and falls can increase its subscriptions to overseas facilities such as the CERN particle physics center and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The measures will, Drayson says, protect the grant parts of the STFC budget and prevent the sort of cuts the council was forced to announce last year. STFC was created in 2007 by the merging of two other research councils and nuclear physics was shifted over from a third. But the two merging councils brought with them some hefty overcommitments to facilities creating a £40 million hole in STFC’s budget. The fall in the value of the pound the following year meant that subscriptions to overseas facilities—including CERN, ESO, the European Space Agency, the Institute Laue-Langevin neutron source, and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility—became much more expensive. To deal with the crisis STFC announced last year that nuclear physics grants would be cut by 29%, astronomy by 10%, space science by 6%, and particle physics by 4%. In addition, the United Kingdom would pull out of 24 national and international projects and reduce funding to 38 others. Drayson’s solution to the problem is to assess the needs of Britain’s domestic facilities—the Diamond synchrotron x-ray source, the ISIS neutron source, and the Central Laser Facility—at the beginning of each 3-year spending period and apportion them a separate budget. For subscriptions to international facilities, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will protect STFC from currency fluctuations until the end of this spending period, March 2011. The Department is working with the Bank of England to devise a scheme to protect STFC from April 2011 onwards. Britain’s subscription to the European Space Agency is expected to be taken out of STFC’s control when the promised U.K. space agency is created. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) The immediate reaction from researchers has been muted so far, in part because the new arrangements do not restore the grants funding that was cut in December.last_img read more

Hall Claims Science Panel, Vows ‘Strong Oversight’ on ‘Climate Change, Scientific Integrity’

first_imgRepresentative Ralph Hall (R-TX) has staked his claim to the chairmanship of the House Science and Technology Committee with this statement on the election and his plans for next year: “Nationally, I am heartened that Americans returned Republicans to the majority in hopes of providing a check on runaway spending in Washington and getting the economy back on track toward growth and job creation. I look forward to working with current members on the Science and Technology Committee, as well as hearing from our new members, to formulate and advance an agenda that keeps our nation moving forward. The Science and Technology Committee will be a place where every member’s ideas will be respected and considered, and all Republicans can play a role in crafting good science policy. “We must also conduct strong oversight over this Administration in key areas including climate change, scientific integrity, energy research and development (R&D), cybersecurity, and science education. Over the past few years the unprecedented growth of the Federal government and the creation of multiple new and duplicative programs occurred without having first assessed the effectiveness and success of existing programs. “My goal is to ensure science policy drives innovation and thereby the American economy. Federal investment in R&D must empower the free market, not interfere in it.”last_img read more

Podcast: A Planetwide Microbe Survey

first_imgVANCOUVER, CANADA—How do microbes contribute to the global ecosystem? What would happen if their contributions were lost? And would we be able to tell? Science’s Erik Stokstad spoke with Janet Jansson and Jack Gilbert about the Earth Microbiome Project and their goals for this ambitious undertaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW).Full coverage of AAAS 2012 and more podcastsSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Fraud Detection Method Called Credible But Used Like an ‘Instrument of Medieval Torture’

first_imgHas Uri Simonsohn, a social psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, discovered a new way to detect scientific fraud just by subjecting the data in published papers to a novel type of statistical analysis? That’s a question social psychologists and statisticians are asking after an investigative commission at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands used his unpublished technique to probe the work of marketing researcher Dirk Smeesters—an inquiry that led to Smeesters’s resignation and a request by the university to retract two of his papers. The social psychologist continues to deny that he has committed scientific fraud, however, and at least one statistician who has looked into Simonsohn’s method says the technique appears to have merit, but was used in the wrong way. “My overall opinion is that Simonsohn has probably found a useful investigative tool,” mathematical statistician Richard Gill of Leiden University in the Netherlands wrote on his blog today after ScienceInsider asked him to evaluate the Erasmus commission’s report, which contains the only public description of Simonsohn’s method. “In this case it has been used like a medieval instrument of torture: the accused is forced to confess by being subjected to an onslaught of vicious p-values which he does not understand.” Simonsohn first contacted Smeesters on 29 August 2011 to ask him about suspicious patterns among the data in a paper on the effects of color published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, according to the investigative commission’s report, which was released earlier this week by the university. Later, Simonsohn also informed Stijn van Osselaer, chair of the university’s Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) marketing department, about the problem. The report says Simonsohn plans to publish the case in a paper, which is currently in preparation, called “Finding Fake Data: Four True Stories, Some Stats and a Call for Journals to Post All Data.” Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) After consulting two Dutch statisticians about Simonsohn’s method, the commission—which included Erasmus statistician Patrick Groenen—concluded that it was valid. The university investigators also randomly picked four other articles from the journals Smeesters published in “to see if the patterns found by Simonsohn surface with other, randomly selected authors,” and they did not find similar irregularities. The commission then subjected those studies for which Smeesters had sole control over the data to similar tests. Because Simonsohn’s method has not been published, Gill and other scientists have so far had to rely on the commission’s report in their attempts to evaluate it. Details of the method are not easy for non-statisticians to follow, but Gill summarizes it in his blog this way: Simonsohn’s idea [according to the report by the investigation commission] is that if extreme data has been removed in an attempt to decrease variance and hence boost significance, the variance of sample averages will decrease. Now researchers in social psychology typically report averages, sample variances, and sample sizes of subgroups of their respondents, where the groups are defined partly by an intervention (treatment/control) and partly by covariates (age, sex, education …). So if some of the covariates can be assumed to have no effect at all, we effectively have replications: i.e., we see group averages, sample variances, and sample sizes, of a number of groups whose true means can be assumed to be equal. Simonsohn’s test statistic for testing the null-hypothesis of honesty versus the alternative of dishonesty is the sample variance of the reported averages of groups whose mean can be assumed to be equal. The null distribution of this statistic is estimated by a simulation experiment, by which I suppose is meant a parametric bootstrap. Gill went on to perform a quick simulation experiment in which he applied Simonsohn’s method to “honest” and “dishonest” data. Gill concluded that the simulation’s result “supports the principle which Simonsohn has discovered.” However, he raises several criticisms. It’s not clear if Simonsohn was on a cherry-picking expedition, analyzing hundreds of papers from many scientists and choosing the most promising ones to follow up on, a strategy that could mean Smeesters’s work was highlighted as a statistical fluke. What’s more, Gill objects to how the university commission corrected for the fact that it tested the same data in multiple ways using the so-called false discovery rate (FDR). Gill writes: In my opinion, adjustment of p-values by pFDR methodology is absolutely inappropriate in this case. It includes a guess or an estimate of the a priori “proportion of null hypotheses to be tested which are actually false”. Thus it includes a “presumption of guilt”! Confronted with the commission’s statistical analysis, Smeesters had a weak defense to offer, suggests Gill, because he had other problems: For instance, he could provide raw data for none of the controversial studies. But indiscriminately using Simonsohn’s method could ensnare scientists acting in good faith, Gill worries. Simonsohn did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and a press officer at Erasmus University said that Rolf Zwaan, chair of the commission that investigated Smeesters, “will not respond to blog posts.” Smeesters himself could not be reached for comment by ScienceInsider, but he defended himself in an interview with Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad published on Tuesday. “I’m no Stapel,” he was quoted as saying, in a reference to fellow social psychologist Diederik Stapel, who has admitted to fabricating results. “I didn’t make up data. I committed a scientific error. It hurts to be portrayed like this.” Smeesters repeated in the interview what he told the university: That he only engaged in so-called data massaging, a “large grey area” in his field, and that the raw data for some of his experiments were lost when his home computer crashed. Paper records for the studies, he added, also disappeared when he moved his office. “It doesn’t help in the public image,” Smeesters conceded in the interview. “But it really happened.” (The commission said it had “doubts about the credibility of these reasons.”) The affair is the third high-profile misconduct case in the Netherlands in less than a year, and the second in Rotterdam. In November of 2011, 2 months after the Stapel affair broke, Erasmus MC, a hospital affiliated with the university, fired cardiologist Don Poldermans, the author of more than 600 publications, after an investigation revealed that he had made up data, did not have written consent from some patients included in studies, and submitted two reports to meetings based on data he knew to be unreliable.last_img read more

H7N9 Is an ‘Unusually Dangerous Virus,’ International Group of Experts Concludes

first_imgAn international team of experts concluded an investigative mission to China today with both sobering and encouraging findings about H7N9, a novel avian influenza virus recently found for the first time in humans. “This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security of the World Health Organization (WHO), at a press conference in Beijing this morning. From what is known so far, he added, H7N9 “is more easily transmissible from poultry to humans than H5N1,” the avian influenza virus that has circulated in poultry in Asia for more than a decade, occasionally causing human fatalities. The team also reported that the available evidence points to live bird markets as being the most likely pathway for the virus from poultry to humans. Positive samples have been retrieved from poultry and from contaminated surfaces at the markets. Nancy Cox, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, cautioned that while it is still early, “we can now understand that the likely source of infection is poultry—that the virus originates from poultry.” Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Shanghai closed its live poultry markets on 6 April, shortly after the market link was suspected. “Almost immediately there was a decline in the number of new cases,” said Anne Kelso, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia. “This is a very encouraging outcome so far,” she added, calling the decision to close markets “very quick and appropriate.” But Kelso also stressed that there is a need for continuing vigilance. “It’s going to be very important to watch over the next days, weeks, even months, what happens as a result of a shutdown of the live markets. It’s possible other routes of infection will be found that we don’t know about yet.” So far, researchers have found very little evidence of the virus circulating on farms, noted virologist Malik Peiris of the University of Hong Kong, but “you don’t need many infected farms to have the virus amplifying in the live poultry markets and causing a threat to humans,” he said. As of 23 April, H7N9 had infected 108 people, causing 22 deaths, according to WHO. That total does not include the first case outside mainland China, confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei late this afternoon local time. The patient is a Taiwanese citizen who fell ill 3 days after returning to Taiwan from Jiangsu province, the site of several confirmed H7N9 cases. Like many H7N9 victims, he could not recall any contact with poultry. The first known human H7N9 cases surfaced in Shanghai in late February, though the virus was not identified until later. The joint China-WHO mission was called together to assess the situation and recommend how to control the outbreak. The team warned that the world is still in the very early stages of gauging the severity of H7N9. “We don’t know the extent of the public health risk of the current virus and infection and how we can deal with such risks,” said Liang Wannian, an official with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission who co-led the team with Fukuda. He added that understanding the epidemiology of the disease in both humans and animals requires the efforts of “the best experts of the world.” With one in five known infections resulting in death so far, “this is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far,” Fukuda said. But he also cautioned that only the most serious infections may have been caught until now; there may be many milder cases, or asymptomatic ones, like that of a 4-year-old boy identified in Beijing last week. “You could see [that case] in an encouraging way, because it could be that there are a larger number of individuals with very mild or asymptomatic ailments,” said Angus Nicoll, head of the influenza program at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Solna, Sweden. This would mean the fatality rate is not as high as it now appears to be. Fukuda, who profusely praised Chinese authorities for their handling of the crisis in his opening statement, said that the few family clusters identified so far in China could be due either to common exposure or to “limited person-to-person transmission.” But he emphasized that “no sustained person-to person-transmission has been found.” Now that the mission is over, China will continue its surveillance efforts for both animal and human health, Liang said: The immediate priority is to “clearly identify the source of the virus.”last_img read more

Top stories: Freezing eggs, burning fat, and the world’s first warm-bodied fish

first_imgRats forsake chocolate to save a drowning companionWe’ve all heard how rats will abandon a sinking ship. But do they try to take their buddies along with them? A new study shows that rats will, indeed, rescue their distressed pals from the drink—even when they’re offered a chocolate treat instead.Scientists discover first warm-bodied fishSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Scientists have discovered the first fish that can keep its entire body warm! The opah lives in deep, cold water, but it generates heat from its massive pectoral muscles. And it conserves that warmth thanks to body fat and the special structure of blood vessels in its gills.Could turning out the lights help you burn fat?When mice are exposed to lots of artificial light every day, they burn less fat and pack on the pounds. Scientists are still working out precisely what this discovery means for humans, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it might not be a bad idea to turn off the lights.Sea level rise accelerating faster than thoughtIf you’re still thinking about buying that beach house, think again. A new study suggests that sea levels aren’t just rising; they’re gaining ground faster than ever. The findings contradict earlier work that suggested that sea level rise had actually slowed in recent years.Discovered a disease? WHO has new rules for avoiding offensive namesThe World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines for naming diseases. Places, people, animals, jobs, food, and “terms that incite undue fear” are out. Instead, WHO says, those who name diseases should use more neutral, generic terms, like severe respiratory disease or novel neurologic syndrome.How long should a woman wait to freeze her eggs?Scientists say they’ve figured out—taking economic and biological considerations into account—the best age for women to freeze their eggs if they want to get pregnant as late in life as possible. The magic number, it turns out, is 37.last_img read more

Clouds may hide water on alien worlds

first_imgAstronomers have discovered about 2000 planets around other stars, but they have few hard facts about what they are like, such as the contents of their atmospheres. Have they clear skies like Star Wars’ Tatooine or are they overcast like the planet home of Cloud City? Now, a team of astronomers using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have gathered enough data to compare 10 large exoplanets, finding a range of atmosphere types, and to propose a solution to an early mystery of exoplanet atmospheres: why some don’t seem to have enough water.It’s hard to detect—let alone study—exoplanets because they are very far, very faint, and are close to a source that is about a billion times brighter: their star. The vast majority of exoplanets were discovered by observing their transits: If their orbits are edge-on, viewed from Earth, then they dim their star when they pass in front. Transits can also reveal the size of an exoplanet and, sometimes, what’s in its atmosphere. That’s because when the planet is in front of the star, some of the starlight passes through its atmosphere and is scattered or absorbed by gases and molecules in it, leaving a spectral fingerprint in the light that eventually reaches Earth.But that fingerprint is so faint that until a few years ago, only a couple exoplanets had given up any atmospheric information. And these two—known as HD 209458b and HD 189733b—had a signature for water that was much fainter than astronomers had been expecting from planet models and the composition of their stars. The explanation boiled down to a “nature versus nurture question,” says Nikku Madhusudhan of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Either the planets were born with less water, through some as-yet-unknown process, or they’ve got the water and are hiding it, perhaps under clouds or haze in the atmosphere. (Even if the clouds are made of water, they are still hiding much of the atmosphere, so any water signature will be reduced by the presence of clouds.)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Prospects for studying exoplanet atmospheres brightened in 2009 when the instruments on Hubble were upgraded, enabling astronomers to get more detailed spectra from stars. Suddenly, there were about a dozen exoplanets that might give up their secrets. They are all called hot Jupiters, large gaseous planets in orbits hugging their stars and with bulging atmospheres to leave a clear fingerprint through scattering and absorption of nearby starlight.A team led by David Sing of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom has carried out detailed studies at optical and infrared wavelengths on eight of those new exoplanets, adding to the data already obtained on the original two. As they report online today in Nature, the distant planets clearly contain water and some are cloudy. Moreover, the strength of the water signature depends on the amount of clouds, suggesting that the hazy planets may be concealing water.  Others welcome the study. “It’s a beautiful set of data. Comparative planetology has taken a big step forward,” says Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. And “it’s cool to see the diversity of exoplanets,” she says.But it remains hard to draw strong conclusions about the nature of exoplanet atmospheres. Because this study simply compared cloud cover with the water spectral feature, “you cannot make a robust claim,” Madhusudhan says. But he says the study is “a natural first step in the right direction.”Although the field is struggling to get higher quality data now, things will change after the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a successor to Hubble that will detect infrared light. “JWST will give us a complete look at atmospheres, right out to the far infrared where the real chemistry happens,” Sing says.last_img read more

Distant planet has three suns and a year more than 500 times longer than ours

first_imgFar-off solar systems keep getting weirder: Researchers have spotted a super-Jupiter orbiting a star in a three-sun system at a distance twice as far as Pluto is from our own sun. That makes the planet, dubbed HD 131399Ab (lower left in this artist’s representation), by far the widest ranging exoplanet in a multistar system, the scientists report online today in Science. Preliminary data suggest that the gas giant—about four times the mass of Jupiter—orbits the largest and brightest of the three stars (which has about 1.8 times the mass of our sun) once every 550 years or so. The other two suns in the system (depicted in the background at right), smaller stars that orbit each other relatively tightly and quickly, lie somewhere between 45 billion and 60 billion kilometers away. The intricate dance of the planet and these stars (seen in this video) is taking place about 320 light-years from us. Measurements at near-infrared wavelengths suggest that HD 131399Ab’s atmosphere contains water vapor and methane, and that the planet’s cloud tops are about 850 K (577°C). It’s not exactly clear where this odd world formed, the team notes: It might have coalesced closer to the main star in the system and then migrated outward to its present locale, or it may have formed in orbit around the smaller pair of stars only to be ejected and then captured by the larger star.last_img read more

Fang blennies wield a painless venom with a strange history

first_img Fangs on a fish are strange enough, but even weirder is how one toothy group—fang blennies—defends itself from attackers. A new study shows their venom doesn’t inflict pain when tested in mice, unlike the often-excruciating stings of other poisonous fish. Instead, blenny venom causes the victim’s blood pressure to plunge by almost 40% for a short time, which in the wild might slow down a would-be predator (like grouper fish) long enough for the tiny blenny to escape. Even more interesting is how this strange venom—which shares building blocks with the venom of scorpions and cone snails—came to be. When scientists built a blenny family tree using DNA from 11 species, they discovered another surprise: Unlike most venomous animals, which evolve their venom before developing specialized injection tools, the fang blennies evolved their needles before their venom, the researchers report today in Current Biology. After they developed their distinctive enlarged canines, one branch evolved venom glands and turned those teeth into grooved venom-delivery tools (above). The result is possibly the only venomous bite in the animal kingdom that evolved for defense instead of catching a meal.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) By Patrick MonahanMar. 30, 2017 , 12:00 PM Fang blennies wield a painless venom with a strange historylast_img read more