Is This the World’s First Cell Phone?

Film from 1938 shows a woman talking on a wireless device… but it is not ‘time  travel’ family say to the disappointment of conspiracy theorists

 

The mystery of how a woman could have been  filmed while using a modern looking cell phone back in 1938 seems to have finally been solved.

Black and white footage of a young female  chatting into a wireless handset – said to have been filmed at a factory in the 30s – has attracted over 300,000 plays on YouTube.

Conspiracy theorists hailed the clip as proof  of time travel, citing it alongside other instances of old films that appear to  show imagery of modern technology existing years before it was  invented.

Back to the future? The woman is seen leaving Dupont with a mobile phone next to her ear. The technology wasn't demonstrated until 1973 and the first mobile wasn't commercially available until the 80s
 The woman is seen leaving Dupont  with a cell phone next to her ear. The technology wasn’t demonstrated until 1973  and the first cell wasn’t commercially available until the 80s

 

Ahead of her time: The woman is captured talking on the small modern looking device as she walks
The woman is captured talking on the small modern looking device as she walks

 

Explained? A YouTube commenter now claims they can explain the bizarre footage commenting the woman is their great-grandmother Gertrude Jones
A YouTube commenter now claims they can explain the bizarre  footage commenting the woman is their great-grandmother Gertrude Jones and they were testing wireless communication devices

But now a YouTube user has come forward to claim that the woman in the clip is their great grandmother.

The user says that the woman really is using  a cell – but it’s a prewar prototype developed by a communications factory in  Leominster, Massachusetts.

The brief clip of the woman, captioned ‘Time  traveler in 1938 film’ shows a young woman dressed in a stylish 30s dress  walking alongside a crowd of people who are also dressed in outfits from the  same period.

She seems to be chatting animatedly into a  device held to her ear, which she then lowers. As she brings her arm down it can  be seen as being the same size and shape as a modern cell phone.

The footage is claimed to have been shot at a  factory owned by US industrial giant Dupont.

Technologically advanced: The footage was shot more than 40 years before the first mobile phone - a DynaTAC 8000x, pictured, was commercially available
 The footage was shot more than  40 years before the first cell phone – a DynaTAC 8000x, pictured, was  commercially available
Mystery: The center of the mystery is Leominster, Massachusetts, were the woman was filmed leaving the Dupont building
 The center of the mystery is Leominster, Massachusetts, were the woman was filmed leaving the Dupont building

It was first posted online a year ago and was  widely reported on by various blogs around the web.

But in recent days a user called  ‘planetcheck’ has come forward, claiming to have solved the mystery.

Planetcheck said: ‘The lady you see is my  great grandmother Gertrude Jones.’

‘She was 17 years old. I asked her about this  video and she remembers it quite clearly. She says Dupont had a telephone  communications section in the factory.’

‘They were experimenting with wireless telephones. Gertrude and five other women were given these wireless phones to  test out for a week.’

‘Gertrude is talking to one of the scientists  holding another wireless phone who is off to her right as she walks  by.’

So far there has been no independent verification of planetcheck’s post, but another YouTube user who says he knows  someone else who worked at the factory has vowed to make further  inquiries.

The 1938 clip is the second piece of footage  said to show a mobile phone seeming to exist before the devices were  invented.

In 2010, a clip from a 1928 Charlie Chaplin  movie surfaced, which also appears to show a woman using a mobile phone –  causing speculation that she was a time traveler.

Other examples said to prove time travel  include claims that archaeologists in China unearthed a small piece of metal  from an ancient tomb in Shangsi County – which was shaped like an exact replica  of modern Swiss watch, with the time frozen at 10:06.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Winner Take All

by: the Common Constitutionalist

 

By now we’ve all seen it. “Winning takes care of everything”. So claims Nike in its new ad campaign to promote the resurrection of Tiger Woods. Tiger was a bag of dirt, he still may be, but now he is winning again so everything is okay. I mean let’s face it. Tiger Woods didn’t just have an affair or cheat on his wife once. He didn’t just go out and get wasted and make the mistake of a one-night stand. He dogged around with many different women for years. He doesn’t appear to like his fellow golfers, doesn’t appear to enjoy or appreciate the crowds that come out to fawn over him. Yet he wins, so people love him, cheer for him and kids, I hate to say, want to be him. It’s like an abused woman who still loves her man, after the beatings stop.

What the heck was Nike thinking? Who that developed this ad campaign thought this was a good idea? I do give them kudos if they believe that any press is good press. Nike may have gotten it right, at least as far as understanding the public and their overall gnat-like attention span.

Remember Rick Pitino. He cheated on his wife, was blackmailed by his mistress and had the audacity to call a press conference just to yell at the press. But now he’s back to his winning ways as a college basketball coach, so evidently all is forgiven. Just win baby and they’ll love ya no matter what. What a cretin.

How about Kobe Bryant, alledgedly raped a girl in a hotel room in 2003. He ultimately settled the case out of court, bought his wife a huge diamond ring and regained most of his endorsement contracts as well as resigning with the Lakers for $135 million. But he’s a winner, so everything is cool.

And there’s the sainted Baltimore Ravens linebacker, “Sugar” Ray Lewis who was linked to a murder and only avoided jail time by rolling over and testifying against his two companions. But Ray Ray is a 2 time Superbowl Champ and future Hall of Famer, so all is well. He’s now going on to work at the ESPN. (A little Waterboy humor there)

Frankly the only exception that comes to mind is Michael Vick. He was a winner; had fame and fortune and went to prison for running a dog fighting ring as well as the horrific abuse of the animals. There in lies the difference between Vick and these others dirt balls. He went to prison, did his time and paid his debt to society. He at least followed the law instead of using his money, fame and influence to escape retribution.

That brings us to the recent report of a baby born with AIDS that has been cured. That is great. Winning takes care of everything. The baby has been cured and yet we haven’t heard a peep of how the poor infant got the disease in the first place. No one seems to care. The New York Times editorial, “The Intriguing Case of a Baby Cured of H.I.V.” is a fascinating read. Fascinating, in that there is mere passing mention of Mom and none of Dad.

Was the dear Mommy a terminal crack-head? How about dear old Dad? Has anyone asked why the sainted mother or father of the cured baby would do such a thing? Did one or the other, or both know of the disease before conception? What if the cure didn’t work? What if it doesn’t last and the baby relapses? They cursed this baby with a deadly disease. But all is evidently well. The doctors, the baby and even Mom are all winners. Why taint this historic moment with such uncomfortable questions. The great thing about the cure is now Mom or Dad AIDS carrier can have more offspring and not have to worry about damning the children with a life of misery. Hooray! Maybe Nike can sponsor the next birth? Free baby shoes!

I guess this is what it is all about in todays America. Do whatever you wish, as long as you’re a winner in the end. Great lesson.

 

 

 

Climate Changers

by: the Common Constitutionalist

The following are excerpts from an article in the British publication, The Economist, written Nov. 2008. That’s just 5 years ago. I know in seems a lot longer considering our current state of affairs in this country:

The Economist “The most important year for climate change since 2001, when the Kyoto protocol (which set targets for cutting carbon-dioxide emissions) was agreed, will be 2009… The first period of the protocol runs out in 2012. The deal to replace it is supposed to be done at the United Nations’ Climate Change conference in Copenhagen…”

 “No deal means that mankind gives up on trying to save the planet.”

 

Wow, really? Is the planet in that much danger? It must be. These men of science wouldn’t overstate a problem, or create one, just to score political points and extract money from us?

It continues:

 “The rich world (especially America) needs to commit itself to legally enforceable carbon-emissions reductions… The rich world, which has been responsible for most emissions so far and recognises that it needs to pay up… The Clean Development Mechanism, which was set up under Kyoto to allow rich countries to buy carbon credits from poor countries that have cut their emission, does that already, but is probably not robust enough to do the job on the scale needed.”

 kyoto protocol

I was shocked, and I’m sure you as well, to see America singled out. I was also surprised to read that carbon credit purchasing isn’t solving the problem. Huh.

They seemed to be quite pleased at the arrival of “The One”:

 “What happens in Washington is most important. Progress on climate change is much likelier under the new administration than the old, for the new one is committed to introducing mandatory federal carbon-emissions cuts through a cap-and-trade scheme…”

 

So what’s the big deal? That was old news. Nothing has changed. The eco-weenies will never change, you say. No matter what happens they will never change their tune on climate change or man-caused global warming.

Well, not so fast. It seems that actual science may be catching up to the hysteria. I know, dare to dream, but in a March 30 article in the very same publication, the folks at The Economist seem to report honestly of the un-changing climate:

 “OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar… And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

 

This must have killed Hansen to even utter these words, for he is dishonest climate change whore, and that’s being kind.

Continuing:

 “Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise… If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years.”

 Climate Graph

“The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion.”

 

No, of course not. The only deluded people have been us man-caused climate change deniers. And it’s funny that they are always surprised when nothing happens. Kind of exactly as we’ve been predicting for years.

The article continues:

 “…an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.”

 

Ruh Ro Reorge. The earth is cleaning itself?! The profound significance could be that as nothing continues to happen, it’s already getting harder to keep beating that same old world apocalypse drum.

The rest of the article is rather long and boring with explanations of new climate modelling, sprinkled with a lot of what-ifs, in an attempt to further the global warming cause.

Although we on the reasonable side of this argument can be slightly heartened by this quasi-admission, this battle is far from over. These folks will not go down without a fight. They have far too much to lose.

We may, in the long run, win this war against the climate weenies, and heh, as the world economy crumbles and we all go the way of Cyprus, no one will worry about man-made climate change.

Cancer Drug Kills Every Kind of Tumor

 

Stanford University scientists have discovered a single drug that has killed or shrunk every kind of cancer tumor it has been used against — a new anti-cancer weapon that some have described as a kind of medical Holy Grail.
 
The drug blocks a protein produced in large amounts by cancer cells — called CD47 — that keeps the body’s immune system from fighting tumors. By shutting down the CD47 production, the new antibody drug effectively leaves cancer cells vulnerable to the body’s own natural defense mechanisms.

Tests of the drug found that it destroyed several kinds of human cancer cells transplanted into mice — including breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors — by prompting the rodents’ immune systems to kill the cancer cells.Continue Reading

 

Bacteria Fight Obesity

Gut microbes may be another way to tackle  obesity, new research suggests.

Could a transplant of gut bacteria be the key to tackling obesity?

 

Scientists found that by altering the levels  of gastric bugs in mice, they were able to induce rapid and significant weight  loss.

The change occurred after bacteria from obese  mice that had undergone gastric bypass surgery were transplanted into ordinary  animals.

Surgery had the effect of altering the  make-up of the gut flora, introducing a different balance which promoted  slimming.

Surgery to transplant different bacteria into the gut - altering the make-up of the gut flora - promoted slimming, say researchers
Surgery to transplant different bacteria into the gut –  altering the make-up of the gut flora – promoted slimming, say researchers

When this new mix of microbes was transferred  to non-obese mice, the weight loss benefits were transferred too.

The U.S. research shows that gastric bypasses  do more than prevent food being digested. Much of their impact is due to altered  ecology in the gut.

‘It may not be that we will have a magic pill  that will work for everyone who’s slightly overweight,’ said study leader Dr  Peter Turnbaugh, from Harvard University, Boston.

‘But if we can, at a minimum, provide some  alternative to gastric bypass surgery that produces similar effects, it would be  a major advance.’

Gastric bypasses work by rearranging the gut  so that it accommodates less food.

The research showed that after surgery  different kinds of microbe began to take over. In particular, the gut became  dominated by verrucomicrobia and gammaproteobacteria. In contrast levels of the  Firmicutes family of bugs fell.

It took less than a week for the rebalancing  to occur, and the effect continued for months afterwards.

The new population of bugs appeared to drive  weight loss, and continued to do so when transferred to a non-obese group of  mice that had not undergone a gastric bypass.

An altered balance of microbes in the gut can lead to weight loss
An altered balance of microbes in the gut can lead to  weight loss

‘Simply by colonizing mice with the altered  microbial community, the mice were able to maintain a lower body fat and lose  weight – about 20 per cent as much as they would if they underwent surgery,’  said Dr Turnbaugh.

He suspected an even more dramatic result  would have been seen if the mice receiving the bugs had been fattened up  beforehand.

How particular populations of microbes induce  weight loss remains unclear.

The answer may be linked to waste products  the bugs excrete, according to the research published in the journal Science  Translational Medicine.

Along with the altered microbes, the  scientists found changes in the concentration of certain short-chain fatty  acids. Previous studies have suggested the molecules may trigger signals that  cause the body to speed up metabolism, or store fewer calories as  fat.

‘A major gap in our knowledge is the  underlying mechanism linking microbes to weight loss,’ said Dr Turnbaugh. ‘There  were certain microbes that we found at higher abundance after surgery, so we  think those are good targets for beginning to understand what is taking  place.’

Co-author Dr Lee Kaplan, from Massachusetts  General Hospital in Boston, said: ‘We need to learn a good deal more about the  mechanisms by which a microbial population changed by gastric bypass exert its  effects, and then we need to learn if we can produce these effects – either the  microbial changes or the associated metabolic changes – without  surgery.

‘The ability to achieve even some of these  effects without surgery would give us an entirely new way to treat the critical  problem of obesity, one that could help patients unable or unwilling to have

Attribution: Anna Hodgekiss, Mail Online

What Happens in an Internet Minute?

Astonishing figures that show the true scale  of our online activity have been revealed.

The new study, by chipmaker Intel, found that more than 204 million emails are sent every minute, while 47,000 apps are  downloaded and retail giant Amazon rings up around $83,000 in  sales.

Around 20 million photos and 6 million Facebook pages are viewed, while we also watch 1.3 million video clips on  YouTube.

Intel's internet minute infographic reveals exactly what we do online - with 639,800GB of data transferred
Intel’s internet minute infographic reveals exactly what  we do online – with 639,800GB of data transferred

 

ONLINE IN 60  SECONDS

More than 204 million emails are  sent

Amazon rings up about $83,000 in sales

Around 20 million photos  are viewed and  3,000 uploaded on Flickr

At least 6 million Facebook  pages are viewed  around the world 

More than 61,000 hours of music  are played  on Pandora

More than 1.3 million video clips are  watched on YouTube

 

Nearly 640,00 Gb of global IP data is  transferred in just one Internet minute, the researchers found.

‘Computing is transforming and touching more  people in a wider range of devices,’ said Intel’s Krystal Temple.

‘But while it’s hard to miss the  proliferation of portable devices, it’s what we don’t see that’s the bigger  issue.

‘What many don’t see is that the increase in  mobile devices has had a tremendous impact on the amount of data traffic  crossing the network.

‘It’s a little easier to comprehend once we  think about all that’s done on a connected device like a smartphone.

‘Listening to music, watching videos,  downloading photos, playing online games, refreshing Twitter feeds and status  updates – all of those activities generate network traffic.’

The study also looked at how the data could expand dramatically in the future.

It predicted that by 2015, the number of networked devices is expected to be double the world’s population.

It would take five years to view all the video content crossing IP networks each second by then.

One of Google's brightly coloured data centers in Douglas Country: New figures reveal exactly what happens on the internet every minute
One of Google’s brightly coloured data centers in  Douglas Country: New figures reveal exactly what happens on the internet every  minute

The chip giant also revealed it is developing new networking equipment to deal with the increase in traffic.

Codenamed ‘Crystal Forest,’ that will boost  performance and beef up network security to handle the increasing network traffic.

‘By enabling equipment manufacturers and  services providers to deliver platforms that grow along with the network, Intel is also enabling consumers to stay connected on intelligent devices every Internet minute of the day,’ Intel said.

Attribution: Daily Mail

The Eagle Has Landed…In Utah

Humans ‘exploring Mars’: Amazing pictures from mission simulation base in UTAH

 

A group of scientists clad in spacesuits  trudge across the bleak red terrain, occasionally pausing to take rock samples  or map the landscape.

After their mission is complete, they will  return to their cramped habitation module, where they live a spartan existence  with limited water, electricity, food and oxygen, a vast distance from  home.

But these amazing pictures are not from the  latest sci-fi thriller set on Mars, but were taken in the deserts of Utah, in  the Western United States.

The ‘astronauts’ are a group of volunteers  who are helping to discover ways to investigate the feasibility of a human  exploration of Mars and use the Utah desert’s Mars-like  terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet.

Utah, the final frontier: Volunteers venture out from the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, which aims to simulate the conditions that will be endured by humans should they ever reach the red planet
 Volunteers venture out from  the Mars Desert Research Station, which aims to simulate the conditions that  will be endured by humans should they ever reach the red planet
To boldly go: Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission venture out in their simulated spacesuits to collect geologic samples for study at the MDRS earlier this month
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission  venture out in their simulated spacesuits to collect geologic samples for study  at the MDRS earlier this month

The project is called the Mars Desert  Research Station (MDRS), a simulated off-world habitat that serves as a test  site for field operations in preparation for future human missions  to Mars.

All outdoor exploration is done wearing  simulated spacesuits and carrying air supply packs and crews live together in a  small communication base with carefully rationed essentials  – everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced  on-site.

The site, near the town of Hanksville, was  chosen because the terrain is similar to the surface of Mars.

It is operated by The Mars Society, a  non-profit organization that advocates space travel, during the cooler winter  months by rotating volunteer crews of six scientists (geologists, biologists,  engineers and more) running simulations  of how it would be to live on Mars and working together to develop field tactics  and study the terrain.

Alien terrain: Csilla Orgel, a geologist and volunteer from Hungary. She has a life-long love of space exploration and is a board member of the Hungarian Astronautical Society
Csilla Orgel, a geologist and volunteer  from Hungary. She has a life-long love of space exploration and is a board  member of the Hungarian Astronautical Society

 

Explorer: Hans van Ot Woud, a mapping researcher and the health and safety officer of the mission, surveys the terrain from a ledge
 Hans van  ‘t Woud, a mapping researcher and the  health and safety officer of the mission, surveys the terrain from a  ledge

 

Melissa Battler (left), a geologist and commander of the crew, climbs a rock formation to collect samples for study
Melissa Battler (left), a geologist and commander of the  crew, climbs a rock formation to collect samples for study
Alone in the cosmos: Volker Maiwald, executive officer and habitat engineer, takes pictures of the surface of 'Mars'
 Volker Maiwald, executive officer  and habitat engineer, takes pictures of the surface of ‘Mars’

 

Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission collect geologic samples from a cliff face. Utah was chosen because it is believed to be geologically and visually similar to Mars
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission collect  geologic samples from a cliff face. Utah was chosen because it is believed to be  geologically and visually similar to Mars
The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions there
The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human  exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert’s Mars-like terrain to simulate  working conditions there

Each crew spends between two weeks and a  month living in a habitat unit, performing the kind of work astronauts will be  expected to carry out on Mars, such as collecting rock  samples from the surface and examining them back in the habitat, conducting life  science experiments and studying the local geology and  geomorphology.

A statement on the MDRS website says: ‘Mars is the great challenge of our  time.

‘A world with a surface area the size of the  combined continents of the Earth, the Red Planet contains all the elements  needed to support life. As such it is the Rosetta Stone for revealing whether  the phenomenon of life is something unique to the Earth, or prevalent in the  universe.

Red dusk: The weary spacefarers trudge back to the habitat after a day of collecting geologic samples
 The weary spacefarers trudge back to the  habitat after a day of collecting geologic samples
Homeward bound: Csilla Orgel makes her way back to the MDRS, where she will live in cramped conditions with five other astronauts with limited essentials
 Csilla Orgel makes her way back to the  MDRS, where she lives in cramped conditions with five other astronauts
Spartan: The six volunteers live together in a small communications base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and water
 The six volunteers live together in a small  communications base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and  water
For safety reasons, there is always one crew member in the habitat in case anything goes wrong on the 'planet's surface'
For safety reasons, there is always one crew member in  the habitat in case anything goes wrong on the ‘planet’s surface’
To be as authentic as possible, everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site, as it would on a real expedition to Mars
To be as authentic as possible, everything needed to  survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site, as it would on a real  expedition to Mars

‘The exploration of Mars may also tell us  whether life as we find it on Earth is the model for life elsewhere, or whether  we are just a small part of a much vaster and more varied  tapestry.

‘Moreover, as the nearest planet with all the  required resources for technological civilisation, Mars will be the decisive  trial that will determine whether humanity can expand  from its globe of origin to enjoy the open frontiers and unlimited prospects  available to multi-planet spacefaring species.

‘Offering profound enlightenment to our  science, inspiration and purpose to our youth, and a potentially unbounded  future for our posterity, the challenge of Mars is one that  we must embrace.’

Another core component is to learn about the psychological stresses that may be endured by explorers as they deal with a lack of privacy and long periods of solitude
Another core component is to learn about the  psychological stresses that may be endured by explorers as they deal with a lack  of privacy and long periods of solitude
Cosy: The crew prepare a meal in the habitat. Food must be carefully rationed as the volunteers are not resupplied once they enter the MDRS
 The crew prepare a meal in the habitat. Food must  be carefully rationed as the volunteers are not resupplied once they enter the  MDRS

 

Matt Cross (facing front), a rover engineer, works at his computer. The project attracts space enthusiasts and scientists from all over the world
Matt Cross (facing front), a rover engineer, works at  his computer. The project attracts space enthusiasts and scientists from all  over the world

 

Work: Geologists Melissa Battler (left) and Csilla Orgel analyse geologic samples collected from outside
 Geologists Melissa Battler (left) and  Csilla Orgel analyse geologic samples collected from outside

The Utah site is one of two operated by the  Mars Society as part of its Mars Analog Research Station (MARS) project. The  other site is located in the Canadian Arctic, with two  more planned for the Australian outback and Iceland.

These locations were chosen because some  environmental conditions, geologic features or biological attributes may be  similar to those thought to be encountered on Mars.

The MDRS website adds: ‘In addition to  providing scientific insight into our neighboring world, such analog  environments offer unprecedented opportunities to carry out Mars analog field  research in a variety of key scientific and engineering disciplines that will  help prepare humans for the exploration of that planet. Such research is vitally  necessary.

Wall-E? Engineer Matt Cross works on a rover, which will be used to explore the surface of Utah, similar to the way a robot could be used by human explorers
Wall-E? Engineer Matt Cross works on a rover, which will  be used to explore the surface of Utah, similar to the way a robot could be used  by human explorers

Biology: Hans van Ot Woud checks on plants grown at the Mars Desert Research Station. Astronauts may have to grow their own food on manned missions to Mars
 Hans van  ‘t Woud checks on plants grown at the  Mars Desert Research Station. Astronauts may have to grow their own food on  manned missions to Mars

 

A vintage map of Mars hangs on the wall at the MDRS. The mission is only made possible thanks to volunteers and donors, including film director James Cameron
A vintage map of Mars hangs on the wall at the MDRS. The  mission is only made possible thanks to volunteers and donors, including film  director James Cameron

‘For example, it is one thing to walk around  a factory test area in a new spacesuit prototype and show that a wearer can pick  up a wrench – it is entirely another to subject that same suit to two months of  real field work.

‘Similarly, psychological studies of human  factors issues, including isolation and habitat architecture are also only  useful if the crew being studied is attempting to do real work.’

Mission commander Melissa Battler, who led a  crew of six at the Utah site from February 23 to March 9, said: ‘Humans, we are  explorers… there are a lot of obstacles but we can overcome those  obstacles.’

Hardy: The volunteers can spend up to a month enduring the austere conditions
The volunteers can spend up to a month enduring  the austere conditions
Starry-eyed: The site's observatory as seen from the working and living quarters
 The site’s observatory as seen from the  working and living quarters

 

Attribution: Sam Webb, Mail Online

Live to 150 Years Old?

New drug being developed using compound found in red wine ‘could help humans live until they are 150

Drugs that could combat aging and help people to live to 150-years-old may be available within five years, following landmark research.

The new drugs are synthetic versions of resveratrol which is found in red wine and is believed to have an anti-ageing effect as it boosts activity of a protein called SIRT1.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has been testing the medications on patients suffering with medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The work proves that a single anti-ageing enzyme in the body can be targeted, with the potential to prevent age-related diseases and extend lifespans.

As each of the 117 drugs tested work on the single enzyme through a common mechanism, it means that a whole new class of anti-aging drugs is now viable, which could ultimately prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes.

Genetics professor David Sinclair, based at Harvard University, said: ‘Ultimately, these drugs would treat one disease, but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others.

‘In effect, they would slow ageing.’

The target enzyme, SIRT1, is switched on naturally by calorie restriction and exercise, but it can also be enhanced through activators.

The most common naturally-occurring activator is resveratrol, which is found in small quantities in red wine, but synthetic activators with much stronger activity are already being developed.

Although research surrounding resveratrol has been going on for a decade, until now the basic science had been contested.

Despite this, there have already been promising results in some trials with implications for cancer, cardiovascular disease and cardiac failure, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, fatty liver disease, cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, sleep disorders and inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and colitis.

Professor Sinclair said: ‘In the history of pharmaceuticals, there has never been a drug that tweaks an enzyme to make it run faster.’

Positive: Scientists have been testing the medications on patients suffering with medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease (file picture)
 Scientists have been testing the medications on patients suffering with medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease (file picture)

The technology was sold to GlaxoSmithKline in 2008.

Four thousand synthetic activators, which are 100 times as potent as a single glass of red wine, have been developed – with the best three being used in human trials.

Writing in the journal Science, Professor Sinclair, who suggests the first therapeutic to be marketed will be for diabetes, said: ‘Our drugs can mimic the benefits of diet and exercise, but there is no impact on weight.’

Limited trials have been carried out in people with type 2 diabetes and the skin inflammatory disease, psoriasis.

Scientists found that there were benefits to the metabolism in the first group and a reduction in skin redness in the second.

The drugs can be administered orally, or topically.

So far, there have been no drugs developed to target ageing skin, but one major skin care range has developed a creme with resveratrol in it.

Anti-aging: Drugs to target ageing skin have not yet been developed, but one major skin care range has created a creme containing resveratrol
 Drugs to target ageing skin have not yet been developed, but one major skin care range has created a creme containing resveratrol

While any drug would be strictly prescribed for certain conditions, Professor Sinclair suggests that one day, they could be taken orally as a preventative.

They could therefore be used in the same way as statin drugs are commonly prescribed to prevent, instead of simply treating, cardiovascular disease.

In animal models, overweight mice given synthetic resveratrol were able to run twice as far as slim mice and they lived 15 per cent longer.

Professor Sinclair added: ‘Now we are looking at whether there are benefits for those who are already healthy.

‘Things there are also looking promising. We’re finding that aging isn’t the irreversible affliction that we thought it was.

‘Some of us could live to 150, but we won’t get there without more research.’

Attribution: Lucy Crossley, Daily Mail

Has the iPhone Met It’s Match?

iPhone facing its biggest threat yet with the launch of new Samsung Galaxy which could be controlled by the eyes

 

The iPhone is to face its biggest challenge for supremacy in the smartphone market this week with the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy.

In what has been described as the most eagerly awaiting technology release of the year, the Galaxy S4 will be unveiled in New York on Wednesday and rumors are the device will feature eye control.

The S4’s predecessor, the S3, already had a feature called Smart Stay that detected if users were looking at the screen.

The Samsung S4 is set to launch on Wednesday in New York with rumoured features such as wireless charging and eye-controlled scrolling
The Samsung S4 is set to launch on  Wednesday in New York with rumoured features such as wireless charging and  eye-controlled scrolling

But the S4 is expected to have revolutionary functions such as ‘eye pause’ and ‘eye scroll’, which will let users scroll around apps and websites simply by moving their eyes.

Since its launch last year, the S3 briefly outsold the iPhone 4S but after the release of the iPhone 5, Apple have regained the top spot.

However, the S4 is predicted to become the biggest seller when it hits the stores in a few weeks thanks to rumored technological improvements such as wireless charging,

It is also expected to be powered by an eight core processing chip, compared to the iPhone’s two, and to have a larger screen – 5in compared to 4.8in on the S3.

There was fierce competition between Apple's iPhone 4s, left, and Samsung's Galaxy S III, right as the battle between the two technology companies continues
 There was fierce competition between Apple’s  iPhone 4s, left, and Samsung’s Galaxy S III, right, last year as the battle  between the two technology companies continues

Other leaks suggest it will have a 13  megapixel camera, as opposed to the iPhone’s eight.

Francisco Jeronimo, from technology analysis firm IDC, said: ‘Apple is not the one leading the market. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new Samsung device sells more than the new Apple device over the next two years.’

The S4’s launch ceremony will be held at the famous Radio City music Hall and will be broadcast live in Times Square.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung have released a few teaser advertisements for the phone, which show a boy’s face being lit up by a golden glow as he opens a box containing the S4, with the catchline ‘one of the most amazing products to hit the market since TVs went  color.’

Attribution: Rebecca Evans, Daily Mail

How to Preserve a Dictator

How Do You Keep A Dead Political Leader Fresh For Public Viewing?

The death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been met with mixed feelings here in the US. But he was adored in his country, at least by those who didn’t despise him, so after his death, his vice-president, Nicolas Maduro, stated that his body would be embalmed “like Lenin and Mao Zedong,” and displayed for a week.

But how do you display a body for an entire week?Hugo Chavez

The Ugliness of Death

Decomposition begins from the second of death in human bodies. The first stage of decomposition, called the “fresh” stage, begins when the heart stops beating. Blood stops pumping to the extremities and settles due to gravity, causing the skin to become bluish-purple. After a few hours, rigor mortis kicks in. At the same time, the body begins the process of autolysis, in which pH changes in the body trigger the structural breakdown of cell walls. Those cells release digestive enzymes which completely destroy the cell. And while all that is going on, aerobic bacteria in the body are gobbling up all of the oxygen that remains inside, but since there’s no new oxygen coming in, they soon die off, leaving a perfect space for anaerobic bacteria to jump in. They start chowing down on any liquids and fats in the body and producing nasty stuff–gases, acids, that kind of thing–which turn into bloat. And that’s not even accounting for visible insects like blowflies.

The type of embalming performed at funeral homes is temporary, designed to last a mere few hours until the body can be buried. Embalming is an ancient practice, with cultures as widely varied as the Inca, the Egyptians, and the Han Dynasty Chinese all having traditional embalming methods and ceremonies.

Today, this kind of temporary preservation is usually done by arterial embalming. Blood and other fluids are drained from the body, and an embalming solution is then injected with a pump into an artery–typically the right carotid artery, in the side of the neck–while the embalmer massages the veins and extremities to circulate the fluid throughout the body. The embalming solution is mostly common solvents, with formaldehyde and methanol being typical ingredients. Other ingredients could include phenols (which serve the same purpose as formaldehyde–and also smell like scotch whisky), water, a conditioner to balance the pH of the water, and some kind of pink or red dye to maintain the color the body was when it was less…dead.

This solution denatures the proteins of surrounding cells, which has the dual purpose of killing any bacteria and also making those cells worthless as food for any bacteria that would try to settle in. It’s kind of grotesque, but you can think of this like a ceviche, in which acid denatures the proteins of delicious seafood, thus sterilizing it. (Sorry for that comparison.)

But this only preserves the body for a little while–plenty of time to perform an open-casket funeral service, but if you want to display a communist national leader for a week, you’ve got to try something else. And what if you want to do it for more than a week? Lest we forget, the body of Vladimir Lenin has been on display since his death. Which was in 1924.

Lenin's Body

Lenin’s Body: via Burrp.com

 

Long-Term Preservation

Vice-President Maduro specifically said that Chavez would be embalmed like Lenin, rather than preserved through any other method (more on those later). And luckily, we have some information on how Lenin’s body was preserved. And it’s not wildly different from short-term preservation. You need to invest in more hair and makeup, because hair falls out fairly quickly, but the big difficulty is moisture.

The alcohol, for example, is highly important to the embalming process. It’s what’s used to hold the formaldehyde in solution, since you’re trying to stay away from water–but alcohol evaporates quickly, which can lead to the body drying out. So you have to keep the humidity level fairly high, to combat that. But keeping the humidity level high invites all sorts of other critters–mold, fungus, bacteria–that thrive in damp environments. It’s a constant balance between wet and dry. Ilya Zbarsky, in a 1999 interview to the BBC, stated:

Twice a week, we would soak the face and the hands with a special solution. We could also improve some minor defects. Once a year the mausoleum was closed and the body was immersed in a bath with this solution.

This preserves Lenin’s body…adequately. His face looks very waxy and shiny; it’s clear it’s Lenin, but nobody would mistake his century-old body for a man taking a nap.

What About More Modern Techniques?

Ah, here’s where we get into some interesting stuff. In 1979, a German anatomist named Gunther von Hagens applied for a patent for a process he called “plastination.” Plastination, in brief, replaces all of the liquids and fats (these are the problematic materials, decomposition-wise) in a body with plastics. It’s a more difficult and newer technique than traditional embalming, but it has lots of advantages. Bodies preserved by plastination do not decay at all; no need for the kind of repeated upkeep Lenin’s body needs. They’re completely sterile, so you can even touch them without risk. And, perhaps best of all, you’re not fighting decomposition: plastinated bodies are perfectly preserved in the moment they were treated, including color and appearance. If you’ve seen the Bodies exhibit that tours from museum to museum, this’ll be familiar–that exhibit consists of plastinated body parts.

Plastination

Plastination: A newborn in the process of plastination. Wikimedia Commons

 

Here’s how it works. First, you inject with formaldehyde, much like you would to embalm. But the formaldehyde in this case is only used to preserve the body during the plastination process, and to lessen rigor mortis so the body can be posed as desired. Then, to draw out all the liquid–remember, liquid is the enemy here–the body is immersed in a bath of acetone, a clear, odorless compound that, when very cold, draws out water from the body and takes its place. Acetone might be a weird and highly flammable substance, but one thing it is not is a friend to mold or bacteria.

Then, you take the body and immerse it in a second bath, this time a common polymer like silicone rubber, polyester, or epoxy resin. Then you bring it to a boil–I know, this sounds like a horrifying recipe–and the acetone will evaporate from the body’s cells, at which point the polymer will move in and take its place. Then you zap the whole thing with an ultra-violet gun to dry and harden the plastic, and congratulations, you’ve got a plastinated body.

What About Freezing?

Well, basically, no. Cryopreservation is a young and controversial technique to maintain cells by keeping them at extremely low temperatures–like, several hundred degrees below zero. It works, kind of, but only for very small and simple creatures like tardigrades (AKA water bears), or for small human cells like sperm cells or embryos. It works well for that stuff; embryos have been preserved for up to 16 years and thawed successfully. But for larger human tissue, cryopreservation is just too immature and ill-understood. There are all kinds of problems: cells sometimes begin to form ice crystals or begin to dehydrate, which can cause irreparable physical damage to the cell walls. But research is definitely progressing in the field.

So, Chavez will be embalmed. Embalming is a classic! But perhaps the next controversial freedom fighter/despot will opt for plastination.

Attribution: Dan Nosowitz, RealClearScience