Baboons use a barrel to escape biomedical research institute in Texas

April 18, 2018 by  
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Baboons  escaped a biomedical research facility over the weekend with the help of a 55-gallon barrel. Gizmodo reported  that one clever baboon figured out how to turn a barrel upright and use it to climb fencing. Three others followed and the group hit the road, although one returned on its own — but sadly, their freedom didn’t last long. Baboons hit the road after escaping from a Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) facility. Inward-leaning walls on their open-air enclosure (seen in the video above) have kept animals from leaving in the past 35 or so years, but that didn’t stop these primates . According to the institute’s statement , the animals rolled the barrel to an upright position to ultimately jump out of the enclosure. An animal capture team, wearing protective masks and suits, captured the three animals who did leave around 20-30 minutes after. Two baboons were held to the tree line, but one made it to a nearby street. ABC News shared a video on Twitter of members of the team chasing one of the baboons on a Texas highway. Four baboons escaped their enclosure at a San Antonio biomedical research facility Saturday. A woman then spotted one leading researchers on a wild foot chase down a Texas highway. All of the baboons were safely returned according to a statement. https://t.co/sA148VbSDd pic.twitter.com/pPBW4V5ZIu — ABC News (@ABC) April 15, 2018 Related: Scientists in China have successfully cloned monkeys There are over 2,500 animals at the institute’s campus; almost 1,100 are baboons. These four escapees were part of a group of 133 males, according to HuffPost , that aren’t currently being used for testing. TBRI assistant vice president for communications Lisa Cruz said in the institute’s statement baboons “have played an important role in the discovery of life-saving drugs, therapies, and vaccines and have led to greater understanding of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and so much more that impact the lives of millions of people.” The barrels, introduced in the enclosure just six to eight months ago, were what TBRI calls enrichment tools, and they’ve been removed. TBRI reported the returned baboons are doing well, but not everyone on social media thinks the baboons should have had to go back to the institute. People on Twitter called for the primates to find a new home in an animal sanctuary . This is heartbreaking. 4 baboons worked together to roll a 55 gallon barrel and escape the research facility where they were subject to horrifying medical experiments. They earned their freedom. Let them go to a sanctuary. Some animals are too sentient to be subjected to this. https://t.co/pWiykNdAW8 — Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 17, 2018 Four baboons planned their escape from your facility and escaped by positioning a 55 pound barrel so they could climb out. What does that tell you about your facility? You make me sick @txbiomed – have the decency to send them to a sanctuary. https://t.co/jRhD9xjG2L — Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) April 17, 2018 + Texas Biomedical Research Institute Via Gizmodo and HuffPost Image © Clem Spalding Photography (210) 271-7273, courtesy of Texas Biomed

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Baboons use a barrel to escape biomedical research institute in Texas

Couple restores 1969 camper into chic vacation home on wheels

April 18, 2018 by  
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When couple Matt and Beau saw a friend’s DIY camper restoration , they got inspired, and they decided to take on the same task themselves. Amazingly, it took the ambitious couple just 3 months and $10,000 to breathe new life into a run-down 1969 Globestar camper, which they lovingly renamed Rosie . The result is a beautifully hand-crafted living space that retains the original charm of the old camper while providing a sophisticated home on wheels . With a little help from some crafty friends, the determined duo worked on the challenging DIY project themselves, posting detailed tutorials on their blog, Probably This, along the way. Restoring the old camper wasn’t an easy feat, but the guys learned a lot: “We learned more than we thought we could ever know about 60’s era automobile construction, concrete mixing, bed-building, light hardwiring, shelving, painting-sealing-and-re-sealing, and appropriate methods of begging friends and family for help.” Related: How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer The camper renovation began by giving the camper’s old exterior a complete makeover. With help from an artist friend, Faye Kaucher Bell , they converted the old rust- and cream-colored facade into a Southwest-inspired color palette, complete with Rosie’s name on the back end. For the interior, the project began with replacing the old peel-and-stick tiled flooring with tiny wooden triangles made out of reclaimed cypress . Next up were the living space and the sleeping quarters: Matt and Beau gutted all of the old built-in furniture and created their own. A complete twin-size bed frame replaced the former bunk/sofa area, and they also installed a built-in night stand. For the kitchen space, the guys kept it simple by repainting the old cupboards and adding a hex tile backsplash and brass knobs. However, they did embark on a massive DIY project for the countertops, which they refinished with a concrete overlay themselves. In the dining area, they painted the dinette table and bench bases a cream color and  reupholstered the seat cushions with a neutral fabric. They even cut out a custom-made sleeping nook for their sweet dog, Fox. As for the rest of the home, the guys filled it with their own decorations and trinkets, including a rose-print wallpaper that pays homage to Rosie’s new makeover. + Probably This Via Dwell Images via Probably This

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Couple restores 1969 camper into chic vacation home on wheels

Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space

April 16, 2018 by  
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Green spaces offer urban residents the chance to escape the concrete jungle and experience nature’s restorative benefits — if those spaces are well-designed. North Carolina State University researchers found vegetation density can impact a person’s feeling of safety, depending on where green space is located, and immersive virtual reality helped them test perceptions. Virtual reality doesn’t only offer an escape into fantastical images. NC State University researchers employed VR to explore different types of urban green spaces . Researchers captured 360-degree, high-resolution images of a city park and downtown plaza in Raleigh with a robot , and manipulated vegetation to create multiple environments. Related: How virtual reality can help paraplegic patients learn to walk again They discovered virtual visitors to the downtown plaza wanted vegetation to surround them. Doctoral student and landscape architect Payam Tabrizian said in the university’s statement , “In an urban setting, being enclosed by vegetation feels restorative. It can serve as a shield from the urban environment and create a kind of refuge where people can sit and relax for a while. People preferred urban environments that were very green and being enclosed in vegetation didn’t seem to bother them that much.” But the opposite was true in the park . Tabrizian said, “In the neighborhood park setting, people preferred the opposite in terms of vegetation density and arrangement. It seems that people have enough green surrounding them and want to know what’s happening around them. When you enclose them with vegetation, they don’t like it. They feel unsafe.” Immersive virtual reality could assist landscape designers in testing new designs or exploring how they might improve urban green spaces. “As landscape designers, the instinct is to want to make changes, but sometimes leaving things as they are may be the best,” Tabrizian said. “This technology allows us to design a true experiment in which we control the variables, without ever planting or moving a tree .” The Journal of Environmental Psychology published the research online earlier this year. + North Carolina State University + Journal of Environmental Psychology Images via North Carolina State University

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The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news

April 12, 2018 by  
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The Gulf Stream current, which serves as an important regulator of weather and climate along the Atlantic Ocean, is now the weakest it has been in at least 1,600 years. This dramatic slowing of the current, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), could usher in extreme shifts in weather patterns, such as more brutal European winters, rapid sea level rise on the American East Coast , and the disruption of essential tropical rainstorms. Suddenly, the 2004 climate-change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, which depicted the dramatized consequences of a Gulf Stream slowdown, seems less science fiction, more predictive of a future plagued by catastrophic climate change. Although scientists have been aware of Amoc’s slowdown since 2004, two recent studies paint a more complete picture of just how dramatic this weakening has been. “The [current] climate models don’t predict [an Amoc shutdown] is going to happen in the future,” Dr. David Thornalley, leader of one of these recent studies published in the journal Nature , told the Guardian . “The problem is how certain are we it is not going to happen? It is one of these tipping points that is relatively low probability, but high impact.” Thornalley’s team gathered and analyzed sediments from North Carolina ‘s Cape Hatteras, as well as shells of marine animals at various Atlantic sites, to determine the full impact of the current slowdown. The study concludes that climate change has played at least a significant role in the weakened Amoc. Related: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate Also published in Nature , the second study used thermometer data from the past 120 years to reach a similar conclusion: Amoc is about 15 percent weaker than it was in 400 AD. While the second study places much of the blame on climate change , the first study also cites natural climate variability as a contributing factor to Amoc’s slowdown. Regardless of its causes, the weakening is recognized in both studies as a potentially destabilizing phenomenon. “If we do not rapidly stop global warming, we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” second study co-author Alexander Robinson told the Guardian . “We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this unprecedented process – but they might be disruptive.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2)

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The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news

Ocean heatwaves have risen by more than 50% since 1925

April 11, 2018 by  
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Oceanic heatwaves have increased by 54 percent since 1925, posing a major threat to aquatic ecosystems . In a study published in the journal Nature Communications , researchers outlined the cause and effects of underwater heatwaves and their future impact on the world’s oceans. According to researchers, “These trends can largely be explained by increases in mean ocean temperatures, suggesting that we can expect further increases in marine heatwave days under continued global warming.” As higher levels of greenhouse gases concentrate in the atmosphere, greater amounts of solar radiation are trapped on Earth — 95 percent of which is absorbed by the ocean . Much like the relationship between extreme weather and rising temperatures on land, as the mean average oceanic temperature rises, so too does the likelihood of extreme oceanic heating events. Because water is able to hold more heat than land, these extreme temperature events last longer than those caused by higher air temperatures. A recent example occurred in 2015, when ocean temperatures from Mexico to Alaska increased up to 10 degrees above average. Fifty documented whale deaths were recorded in this period, and many other marine animals suffered from the unusually hot water. Related: Researchers discover a completely new ocean zone swimming with new species To conduct the study, the research team gathered and analyzed data on sea surface temperatures from the past century, with recent decades producing the most accurate data. Given that the most useful data is from such a short time period, the team could not explicitly draw a causal link between anthropogenic climate change and oceanic heatwaves. They explained that the fluctuations may be due to natural temperature swings. Nonetheless, the researchers concluded that the notable increase in average oceanic temperature is absolutely affected by climate change . The scientists are most concerned that — in combination with other pressures such as acidification, overfishing , and pollution — fragile ecosystems could reach a tipping point by oceanic heatwaves and ultimately collapse. Via ZME Science Images via Depositphotos and Oliver et al.

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Ocean heatwaves have risen by more than 50% since 1925

Lab-grown brains have started sprouting their own blood vessels

April 4, 2018 by  
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Lab-grown brains just got one step closer to reality after scientists announced that experimental mini brains have begun sprouting their own blood vessels. Brain balls were created from stem cells and are used to study brain disorders, including Zika -related microcephaly. Researchers hope that vascularized brain balls may prove to be effective in someday encouraging the regrowth of damaged brain tissue. “The whole idea with these organoids is to one day be able to develop a brain structure the patient has lost made with the patient’s own cells,” UC Davis vascular neurosurgeon Ben Waldau told Wired . Scientists at UC Davis have observed the generation of veins within brain balls, also known as cortical spheroids or neural organoids. Waldau and his team encouraged the vascularization of the brain balls by turning brain membrane cells extracted from a patient into stem cells as well as endothelial cells which line blood vessels. The brain balls grown from the stem cells were cultivated, then wrapped in a gel matrix composed of the endothelial cells and transplanted into a mouse brain. Two weeks after insertion, the organoid was healthy and had developed capillaries that had spread into the inner layers of the organoid. Related: Scientists grow test tube human brains with potential to think and feel Waldu was originally inspired to pursue this idea through his treatment of the rare Moyamoya disease, in which patients suffer from blocked arteries at the base of the brain, denying it blood. “We sometimes lay a patient’s own artery on top of the brain to get the blood vessels to start growing in,” explained Waldau. “When we replicated that process on a miniaturized scale we saw these vessels self-assemble.” This marks the first instance in which human organoids derived from stem cells create human blood cells. Previous experiments with mice had resulted in mouse blood cells infiltrating the organoid. Via Wired Images via Deposit Photos ,  Timothy Archibald/Stanford University and UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures

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Here’s why you might see a cancer warning on your coffee in California

March 30, 2018 by  
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The battle has been raging for years: is coffee a carcinogen or not? A judge in California wants to put the matter to rest – and he’s declared that there’s enough evidence for risk that California coffee sellers should have to post cancer warnings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the science is settled. For eight years, a lawsuit between the non-profit Council for Education and Research on Toxics and big coffee has been raging in the courts. The non-profit states that acrylamide, which is used in processing the beans, is a known carcinogen and potentially harmful to anyone who consumes coffee. Related: Could coffee help fight cancer? But a lawsuit involving Starbucks and 90 other coffee makers claim that the chemical exists in small enough concentrations that it’s no big deal. This week, Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled that the coffee companies hadn’t defended their argument and that coffee sellers should have to warn buyers of the risks. Science hasn’t been able to completely answer the question. Some studies show that coffee actually helps lower your risk for some cancers, and the jury is still out on its impact for other cancers. Coffee makers have a few weeks to challenge the ruling before the order would go into effect. Via CNBC Images via Unsplash ( 1, 2 )

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Scientists are launching human trials for a cancer ‘vaccine’ that cured 97% of tumors in mice

March 29, 2018 by  
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Scientists at Stanford University are currently preparing the first human test of a cancer “vaccine,” a treatment that eliminated up to 97 percent of tumors during trials with mice. Appropriately 35 people with lymphoma will begin the trials before the end of 2018. Not technically a vaccine, the new cancer treatment is a kind of immunotherapy that involves an injection of two agents directly into a tumor. These agents stimulate the production of T cells, which then fight the cancer. As promising as the treatment may be, it is still a long way from being ready for and available to the public. In mice trials, the cancer vaccine eliminated tumors in 87 out of 90 mice, all of which suffered from various kinds of cancer, including lymphoma, breast cancer, and colon cancer. The vaccine proved effective even in instances when cancer had spread to other parts of the body. As exciting as this development may be, it is too early to properly evaluate. “We’ve been able to cure a lot of cancers in mice for a long time,” Dr. Alice Police, the regional director of breast surgery at Northwell Health Cancer Institute, told Live Science . Related: Scientists discover a huge new human organ hiding in plain sight Police also pointed out that since the human test only includes lymphoma patients, it will take more time and research before it can be determined whether or not the cancer vaccine is effective against other kinds of cancer in humans. Nonetheless, the cancer vaccine is a promising alternative to existing immunotherapies. “When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Stanford oncology professor Ronald Levy, MD  in a statement. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.” Via Live Science Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Scientists say mass extinction warning signs exist and they can be observed today

March 28, 2018 by  
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Is Earth staring down a mass extinction ? Recent research from an international team of scientists reveals warning signs for the biggest mass extinction in our planet’s history were apparent far earlier than experts had thought — and we can glimpse such indicators now. Around 250 million years ago, the Permian-Triassic mass extinction saw about 90 percent of animal species eradicated, according to the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, which led the research team. Huge volcanic eruptions and resulting greenhouse gas emissions wiped out scores of creatures. And for decades, scientists thought this so-called mother of all disasters occurred without warning “when seen on a geological time-scale,” the university said. This new research challenges that opinion. Related: Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic Fossils in Iran hint that the first indicators of the mass extinction appeared as early as 700,000 years before the event itself. Multiple species of ammonoids, an  extinct group of marine animals, died off and surviving ones “became increasingly smaller in size and less complex” as time marched towards the mass extinction event, according to the university. Factors that led to the event are reminiscent of conditions today, according to professor and lead author Wolfgang Kiessling, who said in the statement, “There is much evidence of severe global warming, ocean acidification , and a lack of oxygen. What separates us from the events of the past is the extent of these phenomena. For example, today’s increase in temperature is significantly lower than 250 million years ago.” Even so, warning signs that were present near the Permian Period’s end can be seen in modern times, according to the university. Kiessling said, “The increased rate of extinction in all habitats we are currently observing is attributable to the direct influence of humans, such as destruction of habitat, over-fishing, and pollution. However, the dwarfing of animal species in the oceans in particular can be quite clearly attributed to climate change . We should take these signs very seriously.” Geology published the work earlier this year; scientists from institutions in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iran contributed. + University of Erlangen-Nürnberg + Geology Images via Dieter Korn

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China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early

March 28, 2018 by  
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Xie Zhenhua, China ‘s top climate official, has reported that the country has met its 2020 carbon intensity target three years earlier than expected. China’s carbon intensity, as measured by the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of economic growth, has decreased by 46 percent since 2005. Such changes in China’s energy economy bode well for a global community that is struggling to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement . If China, the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels, can continue its progress towards a carbon-free economy, the nation of nearly 1.5 billion may be well-positioned to support other countries in their efforts to stop catastrophic climate change. In 2009, China set its goal of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent of its 2005 carbon levels. This initial concession towards a less carbon -intense economy helped to set the stage for the successful negotiations of the Paris Agreement. At the time, China also made a commitment to set up a national cap-and-trade system by which emissions would be reduced through market forces. Thus far, it has been unable to establish a functional emissions market. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough The cap-and-trade system has also been hindered by technical difficulties and a lack of reliable emissions data. The current scheme, which launched in late 2017, involves only the power sector. As the country attempts to develop its cap-and-trade regime, it also must confront challenges created by a major bureaucratic change that transferred the responsibility for climate change from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. “It is questionable whether in the short term [the new ministry] can be elevated in status and power to the extent that it will be able quickly to assume the influential role that the NDRC occupied in the area of climate change ,” Peter Corne, a managing partner at the Shanghai legal firm Dorsey & Whitney, told Reuters . Nonetheless, China is making progress and that is good news for all of us. Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early

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