Month: August 2019

Total Recall: Memory of a Lifetime!

Do you dream of a vacation at the bottom of the ocean, but you can’t float the bill? 

 

Have you always wanted to climb the mountains of Mars, but now you’re over the hill? 

 

Then come to Recall Incorporate where you can buy the memory of your ideal vacation, cheaper, safer, and better than the real thing. So don’t let life pass you by.

 

Call Recall for the memory of a lifetime! 

 

Memory of a lifetime! Recall! Recall! Recall!

 

And so here we have another play with light, but this time it has to do with the optical nervous system rather than weyl semimetals. However, perchance the two could be used in conjunction to perfect the encoding of photons to generate the ultimate memory via a magical brew of photogalvanic properties and optogenetics merged with quantum physics?

 

“We learn from our personal interaction with the world, and our memories of those experiences help guide our behaviors. Experience and memory are inexorably linked, or at least they seemed to be before a recent reporton the formation of completely artificial memories. Using laboratory animals, investigators reverse engineered a specific natural memory by mapped the brain circuits underlying its formation. They then “trained” another animal by stimulating brain cells in the pattern of the natural memory. Doing so created an artificial memory that was retained and recalled in a manner indistinguishable from a natural one.

Memories are essential to the sense of identity that emerges from the narrative of personal experience. This study is remarkable because it demonstrates that by manipulating specific circuits in the brain, memories can be separated from that narrative and formed in the complete absence of real experience. The work shows that brain circuits that normally respond to specific experiences can be artificially stimulated and linked together in an artificial memory. That memory can be elicited by the appropriate sensory cues in the real environment. The research provides some fundamental understanding of how memories are formed in the brain and is part of a burgeoning science of memory manipulation that includes the transfer, prosthetic enhancement and erasure of memory. These efforts could have a tremendous impact on a wide range of individuals, from those struggling with memory impairments to those enduring traumatic memories, and they also have broad social and ethical implications.

In the recent study, the natural memory was formed by training mice to associate a specific odor (cherry blossoms) with a foot shock, which they learned to avoid by passing down a rectangular test chamber to another end that was infused with a different odor (caraway). The caraway scent came from a chemical called carvone, while the cherry blossom scent came from another chemical, acetophenone. The researchers found that acetophenone activates a specific type of receptor on a discrete type of olfactory sensory nerve cell.

They then turned to a sophisticated technique, optogenetics, to activate those olfactory nerve cells. With optogenetics, light-sensitive proteins are used to stimulate specific neurons in response to light delivered to the brain through surgically implanted optic fibers. In their first experiments, the researchers used transgenic animals that only made the protein in acetophenone-sensitive olfactory nerves. By pairing the electrical foot shock with optogenetic light stimulation of the acetophenone-sensitive olfactory nerves, the researchers taught the animals  to associate the shock with activity of these specific acetophenone-sensitive sensory nerves. By pairing the electrical foot shock with optogenetic light stimulation of the acetophenone-sensitive olfactory nerves, the researchers taught the animals to associate the two. When they later tested the mice, they avoided the cherry blossom odor.

These first steps showed that the animals did not need to actually experience the odor to remember a connection between that smell and a noxious foot shock. But this was not a completely artificial memory, because the shock was still quite real. In order to construct an entirely artificial memory, the scientists needed to stimulate the brain in such a way as to mimic the nerve activity caused by the foot shock as well.

Earlier studies had shown that specific nerve pathways leading to a structure known as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) were important for the aversive nature of the foot shock. To create a truly artificial memory, the researchers needed to stimulate the VTA in the same way as they stimulated the olfactory sensory nerves, but the transgenic animals only made the light-sensitive proteins in those nerves. In order to use optogenetic stimulation, they  stimulated the olfactory nerves in the same genetically engineered mice , and they employed a virus to place light-sensitive proteins in the VTA as well. They stimulated the olfactory receptors with light to simulate the odor of cherry blossoms, then stimulated the VTA to mimic the aversive foot shock. The animals recalled the artificial memory, responding to an odor they had never encountered by avoiding a shock they had never received.

For a long time, it has been a mystery how memories are formed in the brain—and what physical changes in the brain accompany their formation. In this study, the electrical stimulation of specific brain regions that led to a new memory also activated other brain regions known to be involved in memory formation, including an area called the basolateral amygdala. Because nerve cells communicate with one another through junctions called synapses, it has been assumed that changes in synaptic activity account for the formation of memories. In simple animals, such as the sea slug Aplysia, memories can be transferred from one individual to another using RNA extracted from the one who experienced them. The RNA contains the codes for proteins made in the nerves of the animal associated with the memory. Memories have been partially transferred in rodents by using recordings of electrical activity of a trained animal’s memory center (the hippocampus) to stimulate similar patterns of nerve activity in a recipient animal. This process is similar to the new report described here, in that stimulating the electrical activity of specific neural circuits is used to elicit a memory. In the case of memory transfer, that pattern came from trained animals, whereas in the optogenetics study, the pattern of electrical activity associated with the memory was built de novo within brain of the mouse. This is the first report of a completely artificial memory, and it helps establish some fundamental understanding of how memories may be manipulated.

Research into memory and efforts to manipulate it have progressed at a rapid pace. A “memory prosthetic” designed to enhance its formation and recall by electrical stimulation of the memory center in the human brain has been developed with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In contrast, memory erasure using what has been nicknamed the Eternal Sunshine drug (zeta inhibitory peptide, or ZIP)—after Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a Hollywood movie with a mnemonic theme—is being developed to treat recollections of chronic pain.

There are legitimate motives underlying these efforts. Memory has been called “the scribe of the soul,” and it is the source of one’s personal history. Some people may seek to recover lost or partially lost memories. Others, such as those afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain, might seek relief from traumatic memories by trying to erase them.

The methods used here to create artificial memories will not be employed in humans anytime soon: none of us are transgenic like the animals used in the experiment, nor are we likely to accept multiple implanted fiber-optic cables and viral injections. Nevertheless, as technologies and strategies evolve, the possibility of manipulating human memories becomes all the more real. And the involvement of military agencies such as DARPA invariably renders the motivations behind these efforts suspect. Are there things we all need to be afraid of or that we must or must not do? The dystopian possibilities are obvious.

Creating artificial memories brings us closer to learning how memories form and could ultimately help us understand and treat dreadful diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Memories, however, cut to the core of our humanity, and we need to be vigilant that any manipulations are approached ethically.”

 

You may also find this article here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-successful-artificial-memory-has-been-created/?utm_medium=social&utm_content=organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=SciAm_&sf218179815=1

 

Utopia of Hypernature

“Manufactured nature that’s better than the real thing

Much of the so-called ‘nature’ in our lives has taken on an artificial authenticity. Engineered tomatoes are redder, rounder, and larger than the ones from our gardens. We have made fluorescent fish, featherless birds, and botanical gardens that contain species from every corner of the globe. Human design has made nature hypernatural. Hypernature is an exaggerated simulation of a nature that never existed. It’s better than the real thing: a little bit prettier, slicker and safer than the old kind. Hypernature is culture in disguise.”

This article may be found here: https://www.nextnature.net/themes/hypernature/

 

Weyl Semimetals and Twisting Light Beams Open Gateway to Quantum Photon Encoding

Work is afoot to open the gateway to influencing the nature of photons via encoding them by modifying light beams that interact with material known as “weyl semimetals”, which are massless chiral fermions embodying the mathematical concecpt of a Weyl spinor. In simpler terms, a “weyl spinor” is any “empty” quark or lepton that does not possess a perfect reflection of its own mirror image, thus creating a spherical movement of energy around its massless bulk. As such, silicon is a popular semimetal used for these quantum mechanics to reflect this desired unique circular movement when we observe it. Likewise, by altering the polarization and frequency of photons of light will cause a change in how an electrical current is transported; thus, enabling more information to be encoded onto a single photon of light.

Spinor:                                                            Weyl Spinor:

Related image

“Insights from quantum physics have allowed engineers to incorporate components used in circuit boards, optical fibers, and control systems in new applications ranging from smartphones to advanced microprocessors. But, even with significant progress made in recent years, researchers are still looking for new and better ways to control the uniquely powerful electronic properties of quantum materials.

A new study from Penn researchers found that Weyl semimetals, a class of quantum materials, have bulk quantum states whose electrical properties can be controlled using light. The project was led by Ritesh Agarwal and graduate student Zhurun Ji in the School of Engineering and Applied Science in collaboration with Charles Kane, Eugene Mele, and Andrew M. Rappe in the School of Arts and Sciences, along with Zheng Liu from Nanyang Technological University. Penn’s Zachariah Addison, Gerui Liu, Wenjing Liu, and Heng Gao, and Nanyang’s Peng Yu, also contributed to the work. Their findings were published in Nature Materials.

Related imageImage result for weyl spinor

A hint of these unconventional photogalvanic properties, or the ability to generate electric current using light, was first reported by Agarwal in silicon. His group was able to control the movement of electrical current by changing the chirality, or the inherent symmetry of the arrangement of silicon atoms, on the surface of the material.

‘At that time, we were also trying to understand the properties of topological insulators, but we could not prove that what we were seeing was coming from those unique surface states,’ Agarwal explains.

Then, while conducting new experiments on Weyl semimetals, where the unique quantum states exist in the bulk of the material, Agarwal and Ji got results that didn’t match any theories that could explain how the electrical field was moving when activated by light. Instead of the electrical current flowing in a single direction, the current moved around the semimetal in a swirling circular pattern.

Agarwal and Ji turned to Kane and Mele to help develop a new theoretical framework that could explain what they were seeing. After conducting new, extremely thorough experiments to iteratively eliminate all other possible explanations, the physicists were able to narrow the possible explanations to a single theory related to the structure of the light beam.

‘When you shine light on matter, it’s natural to think about a beam of light as laterally uniform,’ says Mele. ‘What made these experiments work is that the beam has a boundary, and what made the current circulate had to do with its behavior at the edge of the beam.’

Using this new theoretical framework, and incorporating Rappe’s insights on the electron energy levels inside the material, Ji was able to confirm the unique circular movements of the electrical current. The scientists also found that the current’s direction could be controlled by changing the light beam’s structure, such as changing the direction of its polarization or the frequency of the photons.

‘Previously, when people did optoelectronic measurements, they always assume that light is a plane wave. But we broke that limitation and demonstrated that not only light polarization but also the spatial dispersion of light can affect the light-matter interaction process,’ says Ji.

This work allows researchers to not only better observe quantum phenomena, but it provides a way to engineer and control unique quantum properties simply by changing light beam patterns. ‘The idea that the modulation of light’s polarization and intensity can change how an electrical charge is transported could be powerful design idea,’ says Mele.

Future development of ‘photonic’ and ‘spintronic’ materials that transfer digitized information based on the spin of photons or electrons respectively is also made possible thanks to these results. Agarwal hopes to expand this work to include other optical beam patterns, such as ‘twisted light,’ which could be used to create new quantum computing materials that allow more information to be encoded onto a single photon of light.

‘With quantum computing, all platforms are light-based, so it’s the photon which is the carrier of quantum information. If we can configure our detectors on a chip, everything can be integrated, and we can read out the state of the photon directly,’ Agarwal says.

Agarwal and Mele emphasize the “heroic” effort made by Ji, including an additional year’s measurements made while running an entirely new set of experiments that were crucial to the interpretation of the study. ‘I’ve rarely seen a graduate student faced with that challenge who was able not only to rise to it but to master it. She had the initiative to do something new, and she got it done,’ says Mele.”

“Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Original written by Erica K. Brockmeier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zhurun Ji, Gerui Liu, Zachariah Addison, Wenjing Liu, Peng Yu, Heng Gao, Zheng Liu, Andrew M. Rappe, Charles L. Kane, Eugene J. Mele, Ritesh Agarwal. Spatially dispersive circular photogalvanic effect in a Weyl semimetalNature Materials, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41563-019-0421-5

 

You may also find this article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190805134054.htm

 

Mordor, the Lost Australian Province

“An international team of subsurface explorers from the University of Adelaide in Australia and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have uncovered a previously undescribed ‘Jurassic World’ of around 100 ancient volcanoes buried deep within the Cooper-Eromanga Basins of central Australia.

The Cooper-Eromanga Basins in the north-eastern corner of South Australia and south-western corner of Queensland is Australia’s largest onshore oil and gas producing region of Australia. But, despite about 60 years of petroleum exploration and production, this ancient Jurassic volcanic underground landscape has gone largely unnoticed.

Published in the journal Gondwana Research, the researchers used advanced subsurface imaging techniques, analogous to medical CT scanning, to identify the plethora of volcanic craters and lava flows, and the deeper magma chambers that fed them. They’ve called the volcanic region the Warnie Volcanic Province, with a nod to Australian cricket legend Shane Warne.

The volcanoes developed in the Jurassic period, between 180 and 160 million years ago, and have been subsequently buried beneath hundreds of meters of sedimentary — or layered — rocks.

The Cooper-Eromanga Basins are now a dry and barren landscape but in Jurassic times, the researchers say, would have been a landscape of craters and fissures, spewing hot ash and lava into the air, and surrounded by networks of river channels, evolving into large lakes and coal-swamps.

‘While the majority of Earth’s volcanic activity occurs at the boundaries of tectonic plates, or under the Earth’s oceans, this ancient Jurassic world developed deep within the interior of the Australian continent,’ says co-author Associate Professor Simon Holford, from the University of Adelaide’s Australian School of Petroleum.

‘Its discovery raises the prospect that more undiscovered volcanic worlds reside beneath the poorly explored surface of Australia.’

The research was carried out by Jonathon Hardman, then a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen, as part of the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas.

The researchers say that Jurassic-aged sedimentary rocks bearing oil, gas and water have been economically important for Australia, but this latest discovery suggests a lot more volcanic activity in the Jurassic period than previously supposed.

‘The Cooper-Eromanga Basins have been substantially explored since the first gas discovery in 1963,’ says co-author Associate Professor Nick Schofield, from the University of Aberdeen’s Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology.

‘This has led to a massive amount of available data from underneath the ground but, despite this, the volcanics have never been properly understood in this region until now. It changes how we understand processes that have operated in Earth’s past.’

The researchers have named their discovery the Warnie Volcanic Province after one of the drill holes that penetrated Jurassic volcanic rocks (Warnie East-1), itself named after a nearby waterhole), but also in recognition of the explosive talent of former Australian cricketer Shane Warne.

‘We wrote much of the paper during a visit to Adelaide by the Aberdeen researchers, when a fair chunk was discussed and written at Adelaide Oval during an England vs Cricket Australia XI match in November 2017. Inspired by the cricket, we thought Warnie a good name for this once fiery region,’ says Associate Professor Holford.”

“Story Source:

Materials provided by University of AdelaideNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathon P.A. Hardman, Simon P. Holford, Nick Schofield, Mark Bunch, Daniel Gibbins. The Warnie volcanic province: Jurassic intraplate volcanism in Central AustraliaGondwana Research, 2019; 76: 322 DOI: 10.1016/j.gr.2019.06.012

You may also find this article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190813101812.htm

 

Epigenetic Butterfly Effect Found in Telomeres of DNA

An epigenetic “butterfly effect” was found in the telomeres (the protective structures at the ends of chromosomes). This means a single change in the telomeres controls the ability of cells to generate a complete organism, activating pluripotent cells to signal all cells of the body.

 

“Pluripotent cells can give rise to all cells of the body, a power that researchers are eager to control because it opens the door to regenerative medicine and organ culture for transplants. But pluripotency is still a black box for science, controlled by unknown genetic (expression of genes) and epigenetic signals (biochemical marks that control gene expression like on/off switches). The Telomeres and Telomerase Group, led by Maria Blasco at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), now uncovers one of those epigenetic signals, after a detective quest that started almost a decade ago.

It is a piece of the puzzle that explains the observed powerful connection between the phenomenon of pluripotency and telomeres -protective structures at the ends of chromosomes-, a kind of butterfly effect in which a protein that is only present in telomeres shows a global action on the genome. This butterfly effect is essential to initiate and maintain pluripotency.

The DNA of telomeres directs the production of long RNA molecules called TERRAs. What the CNIO researchers found is that TERRAs act on key genes for pluripotency through the Polycomb proteins, which control the programs that determine the fate of cells in the early embryo by depositing a biochemical mark on the genes. The on/off switch that regulates TERRAs, in turn, is a protein that is only present in telomeres; this protein is TRF1, one of the components of the telomere-protecting complex called shelterin. The new result is published this week in the journal eLife.

Why is a telomere gene required for pluripotency?

It has been known for about fifteen years how to return the power of pluripotency to cells by acting on certain genes. However, the researchers noticed that this recipe did not work if the TRF1 gene was turned off. Moreover, TRF1 was one of the most activated genes when pluripotency was induced. These facts intrigued the researchers. Why was TRF1, a gene whose product is only found in telomeres, activated so much, and how could this be essential for pluripotency?

‘We could not understand how a gene that deals with telomere maintenance has such a profound effect on a global process like pluripotency,’ says Maria Blasco, Head of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group at CNIO.

To find an explanation, they decided to carry out a random search by analyzing the changes in the expression of the entire genome when the expression of TRF1 was prevented — something like blindly casting a large net into the sea to see what is in it. ‘We saw that TRF1 had an enormous, but very organized, effect,’ explains Blasco.

The expression of many genes was altered, and more than 80% of them were directly related to the phenomenon of pluripotency. The researchers also noted that many of these genes were regulated by Polycomb, a protein complex that is very important in the early stages of embryonic development and that directs cells to specialize into the different cell types of the adult body.

The link is TERRA

But they still did not understand what the link between Polycomb and TRF1 was. Last year, however, Blasco’s Group discovered that the TERRA molecules that are produced in telomeres communicate with Polycomb and that together they are involved in building the telomere structure.

The researchers decided to analyze the interaction between TERRA and the entire genome, and sure enough, they found that TERRA stuck to the same genes that were regulated by Polycomb. This suggested that TERRA was the link between TRF1 and pluripotency.

TRF1 ‘exerts a butterfly effect on the transcription of pluripotent cells, by altering the epigenetic landscape of these cells through a novel mechanism, which involves TERRA-mediated changes in the action of Polycomb,’ the researchers write in eLife.

As Rosa Marión, first author of the study, explains, ‘these findings tell us that TRF1 is essential for reprogramming specialized cells and for maintaining pluripotency.’

The study has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the National Institute of Health Carlos III, the Community of Madrid, World Cancer Research and the Botín Foundation and Banco Santander through Santander Universities.”

“Story Source:

Materials provided by Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO)Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rosa María Marión, Juan J Montero, Isabel López de Silanes, Osvaldo Graña-Castro, Paula Martínez, Stefan Schoeftner, José Alejandro Palacios-Fábrega, Maria A Blasco. TERRA regulate the transcriptional landscape of pluripotent cells through TRF1-dependent recruitment of PRC2eLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.44656

 

You may also find this article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190820101431.htm

 

Starless Corpus Callosum

As someone who has experienced a stuttering speech disorder for 19 years, this article was of particular interest. What I find fascinating is the term “astrocyte”, literally meaning “star cell”. Then when we compare the astrocytes within the corpus callosum to the Milky Way galaxy whom divides the Sky into two hemispheres, instinctively we may draw up an image of a darkened celestial bridge, alluding to perhaps even the original Bifröst Rainbow Bridge of Norse lore. In astrological notation, this concept of a starless corpus callosum may refer to a lack of plasticity between the Feminine and Masculine forces within our Selves, naturally creating nervous tension and awkward communications. Directly, it is the Self’s confidence that has been damaged and that needs focus and realignment to activate those Stars once again. The goal is to find your Inner Strength whom roars an invincible knowing that you honestly don’t give a damn about how others may judge you and your Purpose. Here, the Stars begin to flicker on, indicating that you have found your own Destiny- specifically a Destiny that aligns with your Soul, rather than your Soul aligning with a Destiny.

 

Enjoy ScienceDaily’s article featured in this post.

 

In starry tidings,

Presley Moon

 

Take a look at the Stars in your head,

Feels like Space, kid

 

Spiders on the Storm

“Researchers at McMaster University who rush in after storms to study the behaviour of spiders have found that extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones may have an evolutionary impact on populations living in storm-prone regions, where aggressive spiders have the best odds of survival.

Raging winds can demolish trees, defoliate entire canopies and scatter debris across forest floors, radically altering the habitats and reshaping the selective pressures on many organisms, suggests a new study published today in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

‘It is tremendously important to understand the environmental impacts of these “black swan” weather events on evolution and natural selection,’ says lead author Jonathan Pruitt, an evolutionary biologist and Canada 150 Chair in McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour.

‘As sea levels rise, the incidence of tropical storms will only increase. Now more than ever we need to contend with what the ecological and evolutionary impacts of these storms will be for non-human animals,’ he says.

Pruitt and his team examined female colonies of the spider known as Anelosimus studiosus, which lives along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States and Mexico, directly in the path of tropical cyclones that form in the Atlantic basin from May to November.

To conduct the research, scientists had to tackle many logistical and methodological challenges which included anticipating the trajectory of the tropical cyclones. Once a storm’s path was determined, they sampled populations before landfall, then returned to the sites within 48 hours.

They sampled 240 colonies throughout the storm-prone coastal regions, and compared them to control sites, with particular interest in determining if extreme weather — in this case areas disturbed in 2018 by subtropical storm Alberto, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael — caused particular spider traits to prevail over others.

As a species, A. studiosus is divided into two sets of inherited personality traits: docile and aggressive. The aggressiveness of a colony is determined by the speed and number of attackers that respond to prey, the tendency to cannibalize males and eggs, the vulnerability to infiltration by predatory foreign spiders, among other characteristics.

Aggressive colonies, for example, are better at acquiring resources when scarce but are also more prone to infighting when deprived of food for long periods of time or when colonies become overheated.

‘Tropical cyclones likely impact both of these stressors by altering the numbers of flying prey and increasing sun exposure from a more open canopy layer,’ explains Pruitt. ‘Aggressiveness is passed down through generations in these colonies, from parent to daughter, and is a major factor in their survival and ability to reproduce.’

The analysis suggested that after a tropical cyclone event, colonies with more aggressive foraging responses produced more egg cases and had more spiderlings survive into early winter. The trend was consistent across multiple storms that varied in size, duration and intensity, suggesting the effects are robust evolutionary responses, says Pruitt.”

” Story Source:

Materials provided by McMaster University. Original written by Michelle Donovan. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alexander G. Little, David N. Fisher, Thomas W. Schoener, Jonathan N. Pruitt. Population differences in aggression are shaped by tropical cyclone-induced selectionNature Ecology & Evolution, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0951-x

 

You may also find this article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190820081833.htm

 

Arctic Hellfire

Wildfire in Boguchar

An aerial view of a wildfire in Boguchar, Russia. Photograph: Donat Sorokin/Tass

 

A cloud of smoke and soot bigger than the European Union is billowing across Siberia as wildfires in the Arctic Circle rage into an unprecedented third month.

The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsening the manmade climate disruption that created the tinderbox conditions.

A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79 megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for the Arctic.

The intensity of the blazes continues with 25 megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the 17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.

Mark Parrington, a scientist in the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said the previous record was just a few weeks. ‘We haven’t seen this before,’ he said. ‘The fire intensity is still well above average.’

He said the affected regions previously registered unusually high temperatures and a low level of soil moisture, which created the perfect conditions for ignition. Globally, June and July were the hottest months ever measured.

Russia has suffered most. Last month, the president, Vladimir Putin, mobilised the army to fight the blazes and four Siberian regions declared a state of emergency. But fires continue to rage. The Earth observation scientist Josef Aschbacher said that in Siberia alone, the two-month inferno had destroyed 4.3m hectares of taiga forest.

A Nasa image showing wildfires burning across 11 regions of Russia.
Pinterest
 A Nasa image showing wildfires burning across 11 regions of Russia. Photograph: Nasa Earth Observatory/EPA

The smoke has spread further still. Antti Lipponen, of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, estimates the affected area at 5m square kilometres. ‘For comparison, the area of EU is about 4.5m km² and the area of contiguous US about 8.1m km²’, he tweeted.

The cloud is billowing north-east and is forecast to reach Alaska, where this year’s fires have already scorched an area bigger than all the wildfires that devastated California last year.

Carly Phillips, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Alaskan fires had burned 18.1m acres of forest since 2000, more than double the amount over the previous 20 years.

‘Carbon emissions from these wildfires could exacerbate climate warmingfor decades to come,’ she wrote in a blogpost. ‘Alaska’s ecosystems store huge quantities of carbon both as permafrost and soil that has accumulated over millennia. Wildfires destabilise these stores of carbon by combusting soil and accelerating permafrost thaw, both of which release heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere.’

 Wildfires: blazes rage in Arctic during severe heatwave – video

The black soot also settles on what is left of the Arctic ice, weakening its ability to reflect the heat of the sun.

In Greenland, satellite images this month revealed fires stretching across an area 380km wide, adding to the pressures of an Arctic heatwave that caused a record melt-off of the world’s second biggest ice sheet. This week, a huge wildfire in the Qeqqata region left a smouldering area of 6.9km².

Since the start of the year, more than 13.1m hectares have burned, according to Greenpeace, which says this has released as much carbon dioxide as a year’s worth of exhaust fumes from 36m cars.

The Arctic is not the only afflicted region. So far this year, the EU has had 1,600 fires bigger than 30 hectares, which is four times the annual average over the previous decade, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

About 1,000 holidaymakers had to evacuate resorts in Gran Canaria this week to escape wildfires. Last month, campers had to abandon their tents due to a fast-spreading blaze in southern France during a heatwave.

In the UK, the Fire Brigades Union says there have been 10% more callouts this year, which has overstretched emergency resources. Firefighter numbers had fallen by a fifth since 2010 due to government cuts, the union said.”

 

You may also find this article here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/12/arctic-wildfires-smoke-cloud

 

ARkStorm of the Covenant

“Many headline writers and meteorologists are justifiably turning to Genesis to describe an unprecedented deluge

‘Biblical proportions’ is an expression that headline writers use when trying to describe unprecedented rainfall or flooding. And “Biblical rain” was one tabloid’s response to a prediction that this month would be the wettest ever August. The near-disaster at Whaley Bridge was described in similar terms.

Meteorologists do sometimes refer to rainfall of biblical proportions, but only in exceptional cases. According to Genesis, the flood followed rain that lasted 40 days and 40 nights.

The term has been applied with some justification to a projected once-in-a-200-year storm in California known as the ARkStorm. This was extrapolated by scientists at the United States Geological Survey in 2011, based on storm in 1861/2 that dumped three metres of precipitation in 43 days.

In this type of storm, hot air and moisture from the tropical Pacific form atmospheric rivers that flow over the coast, producing a series of storms lasting several weeks.

ARkStorm is short for atmospheric river storm, but also refers to Noah’s ark. An ARkStorm would leave thousands of square miles submerged under up to six metres of water and require millions of people to be evacuated from their homes.

As there has not been such a storm in living memory, it seems almost unimaginable. But scientists continue to warn of the need for flood protection to handle rainfall of biblical proportions. ”

 

You may also find this article here: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/aug/16/weatherwatch-rain-biblical-proportions

 

“Killer Germs” Obliterated by Medicinal Smoke (Smudging), Study Reveals

Posted on:  Thursday, August 1st 2019 at 4:30 am
Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder
"Killer Germs" Obliterated by Medicinal Smoke (Smudging), Study Reveals

The ritualistic use of plant smoke stretches back to prehistoric and is still used, the world over, as a way of ‘cleansing’ the spirit. Now modern scientific research reveals that the practice may actually have life-saving implications by purifying the air of harmful bacteria. 

The burning of herbs and plant resins for medicinal and spiritual purposes – so-called ‘smudging’ – is an ancient practice among indigenous people around the world; one increasingly adopted by Westerners. Smudging is a technology believed to unlock the ‘spirits’ of various plant allies to restore balance and ease to the individual or group.  Some liken it to taking a ‘spiritual shower,’ enabling you to wash away emotional and spiritual negativity that accumulates in your body and the spaces you live.

That said, skeptics believe attributing health benefits to the burning of sage and incense reflects ‘magical thinking.’ The practice has even been accused of being a New Age form of cultural imperialism where ‘plastic’ or ‘white’ shamans mimic and co-opt the traditions of indigenous people their predecessors essentially conquered.

Burning white sage

Given the polarized view on this increasingly common practice, as well as the well known role that the burning of incense plays in even Western religious traditions, such as Catholicism, we decided to explore the published literature on the topic of smudging’s scientifically validated medical benefits, to see what we could find.

First, we uncovered a 2006 review published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology titled “Medicinal smokes,” that looked at single and multi-ingredient herbal and non-herbal remedies administered as smoke from 50 countries across 5 continents. The researchers found, with surprising overlap worldwide, medicinal smoke is mostly used to address the following specific organ systems: “pulmonary (23.5%), neurological (21.8%) and dermatological (8.1%).” They also found that “ambient smoke,” which is the type of passively inhaled smoke generated by smudging/incense, is traditionally believed to be an effective “air purifier.” The review argued that modern medicine should investigate medicinal smoke as a drug delivery system, owing to the following advantages: “The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body and lower costs of production.”

Smudging, of course, as a ‘spiritual’ ritual, is not aimed at ‘killing germs,’ or becoming a ‘new drug delivery system.’ But because modern biomedicine only acknowledges what is empirically verifiable – which does not include ‘the soul’ or ‘negative vibes’ – the practice will only attain a modicum of credibility from the perspective of the dominant, scientism-contaminated worldview, if it can be demonstrated that it actually performs a useful function, such as destroying disease-causing germs.

Thanks to a remarkable 2007 study titled, “Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria,” published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, we now know that smudging may be one of the most powerful antiseptic technologies ever discovered.

/article/medicinal-smoke-can-completely-eliminate-diverse-plant-and-human-pathogenic-bacteria-air

The researchers reported their amazing findings:

“We have observed that 1 hour treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan sámagri=material used in oblation to fire all over India), on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 hour in the closed room. Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonas syringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens in the open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment. We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.

Did you catch that?

Not only did the burning of medicinal herbs clear aerial bacterial populations by 94% within one hour, but a full day later, the closed room was still effectively decontaminated. Even more amazing, a full month later, seven other pathogenic bacteria in the open room were still non-detectable.

When one considers that modern urban air has been found to contain at least 1800 diverse bacterial types[1] – including families with pathogenic members – this finding could have profound implications for combating a increasingly deadly array of antibiotic-resistant bacteria against which even the CDC itself has acknowledged its impotence.  Consider also that a recent microbiome of NYC’s subway system found close to 1700 different microbes, including those responsible for Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)  and Bubonic Plague (yersinia pestis).[2]

Also, considering that conventional methods of air and surface sterilization and odor neutralization use chemical cocktails (e.g. Lysol) that are much less effective than advertised (one study found them up to 10 times less effective than believed), smudging or the use of natural incense products might constitute a far safer and more effective approach.

Given this discovery of medicinal smoke’s potent cleansing properties on aerosol microbes, we might look at Smudging’s traditional use as a cleanser of ‘evil spirits’ or ‘negative energy’ as less like a primitive projection and more like a metaphor for its very real antiseptic properties. This does not, of course, take away from its ‘cleansing’ effects upon the body’s subtler energy systems; nor does it take away from the the effects the medicinal smokes and its various small-molecule aromatic compounds have upon the olfactory system, which are largely responsible for the clinically proven health benefits of aromatherapy-based interventions.


References

[1] Brodie, E.L., DeSantis, T.Z., Moberg Parker, J.P., Zubietta, I.X., Piceno, Y.M., Andersen, G.L., 2006. Urban aerosols harbor diverse and dynamic bacterial. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, 299–304.

[2] Ebrahim Afshinnekoo et al,  Geospatial Resolution of Human and Bacterial Diversity with City-Scale Metagenomics, published online Cell Systems, Feb. 2015

Originally published: 2015-05-31

Article updated: 2019-07-30

You may also find this article here: https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/killer-germs-obliterated-medicinal-smoke-smudging-study-reveals

 

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