A Virus for Alcoholism

About 17 million adults and more than 850,000 adolescents had some problems with alcohol in the United States in 2012.

Long-term alcohol misuse could harm your liver, stomach, cardiovascular system and bones, as well as your brain.

Chronic heavy alcohol drinking can lead to a problem that we scientists call alcohol use disorder, which most people call alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

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Long-term alcohol misuse could harm your liver, stomach, cardiovascular system and bones, as well as your brain. Chronic heavy alcohol drinking can lead to a problem that we scientists call alcohol use disorder, which most people call alcohol abuse or alcoholism
Long-term alcohol misuse could harm your liver, stomach, cardiovascular system and bones, as well as your brain. Chronic heavy alcohol drinking can lead to a problem that we scientists call alcohol use disorder, which most people call alcohol abuse or alcoholism

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Anitbiotic Resistant Superbugs

Fears over wave of deadly superbugs invading U.S. hospitals that are resistant to antibiotics

Hospitals in the U.S. have been hit by a wave  of ‘nightmare bacteria’ that have become increasingly resistant to even the strongest antibiotics.

Public health officials have warned that in a  growing number of cases existing antibiotics do not work against the superbug, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae  (CRE).

Patients became infected with the bacteria in nearly 4% of U.S. hospitals and in almost 18% of specialist medical facilities in the first half of 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC).

Strains of more than 70 different viruses have petri dishes with colonies of the virulent E. coli bacteria (EHEC) on June 1, 2011 at the insitute's laboratory in Kiel, northern Germany.
Scientists have raised the alarm over the spread  of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including E-coli (stock picture)
Spread: Superbugs were present in just one US state in 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but are now found in 42 (stock picture)
 The superbugs were present in just one US state  in 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but  are now found in 42 (stock picture)

Dr Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement that the strongest antibiotics ‘don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections.’

Dr Frieden said doctors, hospitals and public  health officials must work together to stop the bacteria from spreading, the Sun Sentinel reports.

He said scientists were ‘raising the alarm’  over the problem following increasing concern.

Increasing numbers of patients in U.S. hospitals have become infected with CRE, which kills up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them, according to a new CDC  report.

Some of the more than 70 types of Enterobacteriaceae bacteria – including E-coli – have become gradually resistant over a long period of time, even to so-called, ‘last resort  drugs’ called carbapenem.

During the last ten years, the percentage of  Enterobacteriaceae that are resistant to these last-ditch antibiotics  rose by 400 %. One type of CRE has increased by a factor of seven over the last  decade, Fox News reports.

CRE infections usually affect patients being treated for serious conditions in hospitals, long-term acute-care facilities and nursing homes. Many of these people will use catheters or ventilators as  part of their treatment – which are thought to be used by bacteria to enter deep into the patient’s body.

Weakening: Many antibiotics are now unable to kill the resistant strains of bacteria (stock picture)
 Many antibiotics are now unable to kill the  resistant strains of bacteria (stock picture)

Only six states currently require that healthcare providers report cases of CRE. The CDC said the bugs spread from person to person, often on the hands of medical workers and that they are able to pass on their antibiotic resistance to other kinds of germs.

The bacteria were present in just one U.S. state in 2001, but have now spread to 42, Dr Frieden said at a news conference.

Seven people died, including a 16-year-old  boy, in one serious outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae in 2011 at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda,  Maryland, the Sun reports.

The CDC is trying to raise awareness of the  antibiotic resistant germs, urging health centres to control them effectively by  taking proper precautions such as washing hands and grouping patients with CRE  together.

Attribution: Sam Adams, Daily Mail

Killer Art

Delicate but deadly viruses exquisitely recreated out of blown glass

A stunning collection of blown glass  figurines exquisitely capturing some of the most deadly viruses and bacteria  known to man have been made so perfectly that some say they’re too frightening  to go near.

Seen blown up to one-million times their  original size, these crystal-clear, some almost wriggling replicas of HIV, E  Coli and Malaria to name just a few show the haunting diseases rarely seen in  such beautiful form.

Titled Glass Microbiology, the art work is  the product of U.K. artist Luke Jerram who dreamed up the collection with the  intent not to entirely frighten spectators but more of send a message of the  virus’ global impact.

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Delicate but deadly: A glass replica of the deadly E-Coli virus is seen one million times its true size as part of a startlingly beautiful collection of viruses made out of blown glass
A glass replica of the deadly E-Coli virus is seen one million times its true size as part of a startlingly  beautiful collection of viruses made out of blown glass
The HIV virus is seen
Captured: The HIV virus is seen left of Enterovirus 71, which is part of hand, foot and mouth disease
 The HIV virus is seen (top) of  Enterovirus 71, which is part of hand, foot and mouth disease
Every last detail: An exquisitely detailed reproduction of Malaria is seen here, with each image created with the help of UK virologist Andrew Davidson of the University of Bristol
An exquisitely detailed reproduction  of Malaria is seen here, with each image created with the help of UK virologist  Andrew Davidson of the University of Bristol

‘The reaction to the work really has been  quite amazing,’ Jerram told the BBC. ‘They’re obviously incredibly beautiful so  people are automatically attracted to things of beauty but when they realize  actually what they are there’s that element of sort of repulsion.

‘Some people feel as though they might get  infected if they touch them, which is quite nice,’ he added with a  smile.

Jerram worked closely with virologist Andrew  Davidson of the University of Bristol to ensure each model was mastered to the  closest details known to scientists.

Once sketched out, the images were sent to  professional glassblowers Kim George, Brian George and Norman Veitch for their  elaborate creation.

Appearing so realistic, down to the lack of  color due to their microscopic size’s relation to light, photographs of the  finished products have appeared in science text books and journals.

Despite this, some features may not be  perfectly exact, as Jerram notes.

Stunner: T4 Bacteriophage, Jerram's self-described most intricate and detailed glasswork to date is seen here but while it's surrounded by killers this virus has been used as an alternative to antibiotics in some places
T4 Bacteriophage, Jerram’s self-described most  intricate and detailed glasswork to date is seen here but while it’s surrounded  by killers this virus has been used as an alternative to antibiotics in some places
Lined up: Smallpox is seen left of a fictional futuristic virus, center, and the HIV virus, right
Smallpox is seen left of a fictional  futuristic virus, center, and the HIV virus, right
Swine flu is seen
Two versions of swine flu are seen
Two versions of swine flu, which became a  global pandemic in 2009 killing an estimated
284,500 people worldwide according  to the CDC, are seen beautifully displayed here

‘We have to piece together our understanding  by comparing grainy electron microscope images with abstract chemical models and  existing diagrams,’ he told the Smithsonian  Magazine.

Also in some places he admits the models may  be intentionally slightly different. Such is the case of his H1N1 virus model  which appears spikier simply to add to the finished product’s durability, not  for presentation’s sake.

Over time with scientists’ improvements with  technology and their understanding, he realizes he’ll have to make slight  changes to them, but that doesn’t appear to be of worry, only exciting  advancement.

Taking the smallpox disease for example, work  on that replica has had to be placed on hold after one Florida scientist’s  recent theory that it’s a bit different than others think.

‘He has published papers that show a very  different understanding of the internal structure. I now need to consider  whether to create a new model or wait until his model has become more widely  accepted by the scientific community,’ Jerram said.

Where to catch it: Jerram's work titled Glass Microbiology has been recently added to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection while also now touring in museums in Maryland and the U.K.
Jerram’s work titled Glass  Microbiology has been recently added to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s  permanent collection while also now touring in museums in Maryland and the  U.K.

Among Jerram’s loudest praise for his work,  and perhaps most interestingly, he reveals thanks from those directly suffering  from the viruses he beautifully recreates.

‘I’ve also had emails from people suffering  from HIV who have said that by looking at the art work you’ve made it’s given me  an appreciation of the viruses that are actually inside my body,’ he  said.

As one shared email on his website reads:  ‘Your sculpture, even as a photo, has made HIV much more real for me than any  photo or illustration I’ve ever seen. It’s a very odd feeling seeing my enemy,  and the eventual likely cause of my death, and finding it so  beautiful.’

His work has been added to New York’s  Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection and is also now appearing in  New York’s Museum of Art and Design through April 7th as well as in Maryland’s  Strathmore Fine Art in Bethesda from February 16 to April 13.

Attribution:Nina Golgowski

Flip the Switch

 Where shall we file this article? Maybe we can put it in the ” Ain’t technology grand and it will never be abused or used against us” folder. Is there an App for that?

 

By: Jordan Robertson of Bloomberg

Janne Kytömäki, a Finnish software developer, was cruising Google’s Android Market for smartphone apps last year when he noticed something strange. Dozens of best-selling applications suddenly listed the same wrong publisher. It was as if Stephen King’s name had vanished from the covers of his books, replaced by an unknown author. Kytömäki realized the culprit was a piece of malware that was spreading quickly, and he posted his findings online.

Google responded swiftly. It flipped a little-known kill switch, reaching into more than 250,000 infected Android smartphones and forcibly removing the malicious code. “It was sort of unreal, watching something like that unfold,” says Kytömäki, who makes dice simulator apps. Kill switches are a standard part of most smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. Google, Apple, and Amazon all have the ability to reach into devices to delete illicit content or edit code without users’ permission. It’s a powerful way to stop threats that spread quickly, but it’s also a privacy and security land mine.

With the rollout of the Windows 8 operating system expected later this year, millions of desktop and laptop PCs will get kill switches for the first time. Microsoft hasn’t spoken publicly about its reasons for including this capability in Windows 8 beyond a cryptic warning that it might be compelled to use it for legal or security reasons. The feature was publicized in a widely cited Computerworld article in December when Microsoft posted the terms of use for its new application store, a feature in Windows 8 that will allow users to download software from a Microsoft-controlled portal. Windows smartphones, like those of its competitors, have included kill switches for several years, though software deletion “is a last resort, and it’s uncommon,” says Todd Biggs, director of product management for Windows Phone Marketplace.

Microsoft declined to answer questions about the kill switch in Windows 8 other than to say it will only be able to remove or change applications downloaded through the new app store. Any software loaded from a flash drive, DVD, or directly from the Web will remain outside Microsoft’s control. Still, the kill switch is a tool that could help Microsoft prevent mass malware infections. “For most users, the ability to remotely remove apps is a good thing,” says Charlie Miller, a researcher with the security company Accuvant.

The history of kill switches on smartphones and e-readers suggests they’re double-edged swords for the companies that wield them. In 2009, Amazon reached into users’ Kindles to delete e-book copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm that had been sold by a publisher without the necessary rights. The ensuing backlash caused Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos to call the move “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.”

The reluctance of tech companies to set explicit policies for when they will and will not use kill switches contributes to the fear they’ll be abused. Civil rights and free speech advocates worry that tech companies could be pressured by governments to delete software or data for political reasons. “You have someone who has absolute control over my hard drive in ways I may have never anticipated or consented to,” says Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University’s law school in California. “If they use that power wisely, they actually make my life better. We don’t know if they use the power wisely. In fact, we may never know when they use their power at all.”

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of Android engineering, says the search company reserves the use of the kill switch for “really egregious, really obvious cases” of harmful content. Microsoft’s Biggs says the company has used the functionality in its smartphones only for “technical issues and content issues.” Apple declined to comment. Amazon did not respond to several messages.

Like many in his profession, Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder of the San Francisco startup Lookout, which makes security software for smartphones, expresses mixed emotions about the emergence of kill switches. “The remote removal tools are very much a response to the mistakes of the PC era,” he says. “Whether or not it’s an overcorrection, I think history will tell us. It can be done right, but we as an industry need to tread carefully. It’s easy to imagine several dystopian futures that can arise from this.”

One supporter is Janne Kytömäki, the Finn who discovered the Android malware outbreak. He says Google did the right thing by deleting the malware without users’ permission. “What was the alternative?” he says. “Leave those apps installed on 200,000 people’s mobiles? This is something that had to be done.”

End Article

Famous last words: We couldn’t just do nothing!

How about , “Buyer Beware”, or user beware. We’ve allowed the door of abuse to cracked open. Mark my words. This kill switch program will progress into other areas and it wiil eventually be abused.

Ben Franklin said: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”