With a gravity boost from the sun, the Parker will attain a top speed of 430,000 mph, about 120 miles a second, at its closest approach of only 3.8 million miles, becoming the fastest human-made object to hurtle through the solar system

NASA successfully launched a spacecraft toward the sun on Sunday, hoping to increase scientific understanding of how our star works. The Parker Solar Probe’s departure promises to set a plethora of records, including speediest spacecraft, highest velocity while leaving Earth and closest solar approach. It will also mark the first robotic visit to a uniquely hostile environment: the unstable atmosphere of a giant ball of perpetual nuclear fusion.

The probe lifted off at 3:31 a.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket sporting a rare third stage, giving it extra oomph to boost the payload into an interplanetary trajectory. The launch speed of 43,000 miles per hour (69,000 kilometers per hour) was expected to be the fastest of any previous launch because of the pace required to set a course directly to the sun.

The probe failed to launch in its original Saturday slot after missing a 45-minute window, NASA said.

“We always say that luck has absolutely nothing to do with this business, but I will take all that I can get,” ULA Chief Executive Officer Tory Bruno said in an interview Friday. The alliance is a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

With a gravity boost from the sun, the Parker will attain a top speed of 430,000 mph, about 120 miles a second, at its closest approach of only 3.8 million miles, becoming the fastest human-made object to hurtle through the solar system. The probe will investigate two key questions about solar physics: How does the solar wind start and attain speeds of as much as 1.8 million mph? And why is the sun’s surface, at 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 Celsius), just a tiny fraction of the million-plus degree corona?

“We’ll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before — within the corona of a star,” said project scientist Nicky Fox of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, which designed the probe and manages the mission.

The Parker will make 24 orbits of the sun over almost seven years, using Venus to help slow down and reduce its orbital distance to the sun. Parker’s first approach, at 15 million miles, is expected on Nov. 1. So far, the Helios 2 spacecraft has made the closest approach, which flew within 27 million miles in 1976. The probe will fly close enough to observe solar winds, assess their speed and study the formation of high-energy solar particles, which are associated with flares that can wreak havoc on Earth.

Cooling Off

Four suites of instruments will measure the sun’s magnetic field, solar-wind speed and the density and temperature of wind particles. The devices are protected from 2,550-degree heat by a 4.5-inch (11.4-centimeter) carbon-composite shield that will keep the equipment at a cozy 85 degrees during the journey. The $1.5 billion probe is named after Eugene Parker, 91, a University of Chicago physicist who theorized in 1958 that the sun creates a solar wind — a notion that his peers found ridiculous until 1962, when the National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s Mariner 2 mission to Venus confirmed the theory.

Courtesy - Indian Express

According to a report in BBC, studying these social mixing patterns will help to shed light on understanding the way infectious disease are contracted and then help in planning vaccinations accordingly.

Blame it on the films or the stereotypes surrounding it, girls are generally believed to form more close-knit groups as compared to boys. But a recent study debunks this and goes on to state the exact opposite. The study has deduced that boys generally have the same six friends over a period of six months while things are not this constant for girls. According to a report in BBC, studying these social mixing patterns will help to shed light on understanding the way infectious disease are contracted and then help in planning vaccinations accordingly.

Published in a scientific journal Plos One, the study was led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and was partnered with the University of Cambridge. Complex mathematical models were used by the scientists to understand how a disease spreads in a group. Findings of the study will be helpful in ascertaining how contagious diseases spread and the measures that can be taken to restrict that.

Around 460 students from year seven across different UK secondary schools and from varied socioeconomic classes were asked to name six children they spent most of their time with, during January and June in the year 2015.

Showing boys are potentially more cliquey than girls, perhaps going against gender stereotypes, and that popular child remain popular over time, is an interesting social insight – but for mathematical modellers, this type of information is also extremely valuable. Understanding age-specific social mixing patterns is vital for studying outbreaks of infectious diseases like flu and measles, which can spread rapidly, particularly among children,” author of the study Dr Adam Kucharski said.

“Mathematical models that predict the spread of infectious diseases are now an essential part of public health decisions for the introduction of new vaccines,” he added.

“Kids are a very important part of looking at how diseases spread. Previous studies have only looked at how children mix over one day, so with this study we wanted to see how it changed over time. It would also be good to extend the study over a longer period to see how friendship groups changed over the years,” Dr Clare Wenham, another author of the study said.

“It has been observed that boys’ friendships are more stable and girls’ are more volatile. As a result, girls might feel more pressure to have ‘just in case’ friends in case they fall out with their best friend and they feel more social pressure to be friendly with people that aren’t really their friends than boys. All this leads to a larger, more changeable group,” Dr Terri Apter.

 

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

 

Saturday, 14 July 2018 17:28

Add pinch of pepper in your plate to lose weight

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Pepper helps in reducing fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids and Cholesterol level in the plasma and lipid profile. It also helps in elevating the good cholesterol and reducing the formation of new fat cells in the body, says an expert.

Indian cuisine offers a variety of spices that tingle not only your taste buds, but also impact health positively. Black pepper, which can turn dull dishes into lip-smacking, can help you shed weight. Black pepper is loaded with Vitamins A, C, and K, minerals, healthy fatty acids and works as a natural metabolic booster which makes it a storehouse of uncountable health benefits, including weight loss. It also contains piperine. Adding up a little of it in your meal burns calories after eating for hours, prevents the creation of new fat cells and suppresses fat accumulation. Clinical dietician and Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal and FITPASS’ Dietician and Nutritionist Mehar Rajput, have suggested a few ways to use the spice:

* Gulp or chew directly: Those who can tolerate the burning hot flavour of black pepper can consume 1-2 peppercorns directly every morning. This will rev up your metabolism.

* Black pepper tea: Add a dash of freshly ground black pepper in tea.

* Sprinkle it over fruit and vegetable salad: Use black pepper as a seasoning and simply sprinkle it over your favourite salad. This not only adds an extra flavour to your plate but also aids in weight loss.

* Add it your everyday beverage: A pinch of black pepper powder over a buttermilk recipe or summer refreshing masala-mint-lemonade goes a long way in not only shredding extra pounds, but also for a healthy gut and immunity.

* Black pepper oil: Add a drop of 100 per cent pure black pepper oil in a glass of plain water and consume it before breakfast or else using it as a salad dressing is another option.

* Pepper prevents new fat cells from forming: Pepper helps in reducing fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids and Cholesterol level in the plasma and lipid profile. It also helps in elevating the good cholesterol and reducing the formation of new fat cells in the body.

Courtesy - Indian Express

"It is an important reminder of a public health point and reinforces the need to get up and walk around regularly when on an airplane or when forced to stay in a car for a long time," said a researcher.

A new study suggests that being confined in a car or airplane for long hours may increase the risk of developing a condition called venous thromboembolisms (VTE), a blood clot that forms most often in the deep veins of the leg, groin or arm. In order to assess the impact of remaining seated in cars for extended periods of time, the investigators gathered data from the aftermath of the Kumamoto earthquakes that struck Japan in April 2016. They found an “epidemic” of blood clots developing in the legs, and in numerous cases going to the lungs, in many of the people forced to evacuate, according to the study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Analysis of questionnaires from 21 local medical institutions established that 51 patients were hospitalised following the earthquakes due to VTE. Of these, 42 patients (82.4 per cent) had spent the night in a vehicle. “Preventive awareness activities by professional medical teams, supported by education in the media about the risk of VTEs after spending the night in a vehicle, and raising awareness of evacuation centers, could lead to a reduced number of victims of VTE,” noted lead investigator Seiji Hokimoto from Kumamoto University in Japan.
“This is a dramatic example of the risks inherent in spending prolonged periods immobilized in a cramped position,” commented Stanley Nattel, Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

“It is an important reminder of a public health point and reinforces the need to get up and walk around regularly when on an airplane or when forced to stay in a car for a long time,” Nattel said.

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

Intestinal stem cells are responsible for maintaining the lining of the intestine, which typically renews itself every five days. When an injury or infection occurs, stem cells are key to repairing any damage.

The US biologists found that a 24-hour fast can reverse the age-related loss of intestinal stem cell function that can regenerate new intestinal cells. The study, published on Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, revealed that fasting dramatically improves stem cells’ ability to regenerate, in both aged and young mice, Xinhua reported. In fasting mice, cells begin breaking down fatty acids instead of glucose, a change that stimulates the stem cells to become more regenerative. The researchers found that they could also boost regeneration with a molecule that activates the same metabolic switch and such an intervention could potentially help older people recovering from gastrointestinal infections or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“Fasting has many effects in the intestine, which include boosting regeneration as well as potential uses in any type of ailment that impinges on the intestine, such as infections or cancers,” said Omer Yilmaz, an assistant professor of biology in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and one of the senior authors of the study. “This study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilizing carbohydrates to burning fat,” said David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and the paper’s another senior author. “Interestingly, switching these cells to fatty acid oxidation enhanced their function significantly. Pharmacological targeting of this pathway may provide a therapeutic opportunity to improve tissue homeostasis in age-associated pathologies.”

Intestinal stem cells are responsible for maintaining the lining of the intestine, which typically renews itself every five days. When an injury or infection occurs, stem cells are key to repairing any damage. However as people age, the regenerative abilities of these intestinal stem cells decline, so it takes longer for the intestine to recover. After mice fasted for 24 hours, the researchers removed intestinal stem cells and grew them in a culture dish, allowing them to determine whether the cells can give rise to “mini-intestines” known as organoids. The researchers found that stem cells from the fasting mice doubled their regenerative capacity.

The researchers sequenced the messenger RNA of stem cells from the mice that fasted, and revealed that fasting induces cells to switch from their usual metabolism, which burns carbohydrates such as sugars, to metabolizing fatty acids. This switch occurs through the activation of transcription factors called PPARs, which turn on many genes that are involved in metabolizing fatty acids, according to the researchers. The researchers found that if they turned off this pathway, fasting could no longer boost regeneration and they could reproduce the beneficial effects of fasting by treating mice with a molecule that mimics the effects of PPARs. The findings suggest that drug treatment could stimulate regeneration without requiring patients to fast, which is difficult for most people.

One group that could benefit from such treatment is cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy, which often harms intestinal cells. It could also benefit older people who experience intestinal infections or other gastrointestinal disorders that can damage the lining of the intestine.

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

Researchers took fragments of proteins from bacteria and flatworms, which when fused together were effective at binding to the gold nanoparticle surface and able to form stable bonds to any other protein.

Scientists have developed a new technique to bind proteins to nanoparticles that can help make drugs “smarter” and more effective at reaching their target.

The new technique decorates gold nanoparticles with a protein of choice so that they can be used to tailor drug to more accurately target an area on the body, such as a cancer tumour.

Gold nanoparticles are spheres made of gold atoms having a diameter of only few billionths of a metre which can be coated with a biological protein and combined with drugs to enable the treatment to travel through the body and reach the affected area.

“Gold nanoparticles are a vital tool in new drug development and drug delivery systems. We have unlocked the key to binding proteins and molecules so that those drugs will be more effective,” said Enrico Ferrari, a nanobiotechnologist from Britain’s University of Lincoln.

Until now, the proteins used to coat the nanoparticles had to be mixed together with particles which do not have the ability to control the way they bind, possibly making the drug less effective.

However, the new method, published in the journal Nature Communications, enables pharmacologists to place the proteins onto the gold nanoparticles layer by layer in a specific order.

This maintains the integrity of the protein so that the drug is more effective, opening up possibilities for the development of nanomedicine.

“This method might help to design nanomedicines that do not need extensive chemical modification of a protein drug or a nano-carrier and therefore can be developed more easily and faster,” Ferrari added.

Researchers took fragments of proteins from bacteria and flatworms, which when fused together were effective at binding to the gold nanoparticle surface and able to form stable bonds to any other protein.

By mixing this fusion protein with gold nanoparticles, it permanently binds to the gold surface while also being able to stably bind a target protein.

The novel method could also potentially be applied to biosensors and diagnostic kits that use gold, such as those used in clinical settings to identify ongoing infections in patients’ blood, the researchers said.

 

Courtesy - Indian Express

Friday, 27 April 2018 17:25

Our emotions may shape what we see, says a study

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"That is, we do not come to know the world through only our external senses - we see the world differently when we feel pleasant or unpleasant," said a researcher of the study.

Our emotional state in a given moment may influence what we see, according to a study which shows that humans are active perceivers. The findings published in the journal Psychological Science could have implications that extend from everyday social interactions to situations with more severe consequences. For instance, they could be useful when judges or jury members have to evaluate whether a defendant is remorseful, researchers said. In two experiments, they found that participants saw a neutral face as smiling more when it was paired with an unseen positive image.

“We do not passively detect information in the world and then react to it – we construct perceptions of the world as the architects of our own experience. Our effective feelings are a critical determinant of the experience we create,” said Erika Siegel, a psychological scientist at the University of California, San Francisco in the US. “That is, we do not come to know the world through only our external senses – we see the world differently when we feel pleasant or unpleasant,” she said.

In previous studies, Siegel and colleagues found that influencing people’s emotional states outside of conscious awareness shifted their first impressions of neutral faces, making faces seem more or less likeable, trustworthy, and reliable. In the latest research, they wanted to see if changing people’s emotional states outside awareness might actually change how they see the neutral faces. Using a technique called continuous flash suppression, the researchers were able to present stimuli to participants without them knowing it.

In one experiment, 43 participants had a series of flashing images, which alternated between a pixelated image and a neutral face, presented to their dominant eye. At the same time, a low-contrast image of a smiling, scowling, or neutral face was presented to their non-dominant eye – typically, this image will be suppressed by the stimulus presented to the dominant eye and participants will not consciously experience it. At the end of each trial, a set of five faces appeared and participants picked the one that best matched the face they saw during the trial.

The face that was presented to participants’ dominant eye was always neutral. However, they tended to select faces that were smiling more as the best match if the image that was presented outside of their awareness showed a person who was smiling as opposed to neutral or scowling. In a second experiment, the researchers included an objective measure of awareness, asking participants to guess the orientation of the suppressed face. Those who correctly guessed the orientation at better than chance levels were not included in subsequent analyses. Again, the results indicated that unseen positive faces changed participants’ perception of the visible neutral face.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration and subsequently may reduce the cognitive health-related benefits of exercise.

Older people who indulge in physical activity should increase their amount of water intake, to reap the full cognitive benefits of exercise, researchers suggest.

Dehydration has been shown to impair exercise performance and brain function in young people, but less is known about its impact on older populations.

The findings showed that hydration boosts performance on test of executive function that includes the skills needed to plan, focus, remember and multitask following exercise.

Exercise has been shown to improve intellectual health, including executive function.

“Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration and subsequently may reduce the cognitive health-related benefits of exercise,” said researchers including Brandon Yates, of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, US.

The study, presented at the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2018 in San Diego, explored the association between hydration status before exercising and exercise-enhanced cognition in older adults.

The team recruited recreational cyclists (average age 55) who participated in a large cycling event on a warm day (78-86 degrees F).

The cyclists performed a “trail-making” executive function test–quickly and accurately connecting numbered dots using paper and pencil — before and after the event.

The team tested the volunteers’ urine before they exercised and divided them into two groups — normal hydration and dehydrated — based on their hydration status.

The normal hydration group showed noticeable improvement in the completion time of the trail-making test after cycling when compared to their pre-cycling test.

The dehydration group also completed their post-cycling test more quickly, but the time reduction was not significant.

“This suggests that older adults should adopt adequate drinking behaviours to reduce cognitive fatigue and potentially enhance the cognitive benefits of regular exercise participation,” the researchers said.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Friday, 27 April 2018 17:21

Working It Out: 7 productivity hacks for success

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When you do a task happily, you are very productive. Thus, in order to be productive at work, either do only what you love or love everything that you have to do. Do not argue too much with people who pay you.

“Time cannot be saved, it can either be wasted or used productively”

As an author and a motivational speaker, I cannot overemphasise the importance of being productive in life. One question that has always amazed me is how is it that though we have 24 hours in a day, there is so much of income inequality in this world. Education does make a difference, but even amongst equally educated folks, money is not equally distributed.

After years of research and study, I concluded that our understanding of the subject of productivity does act as one of the key reasons behind inequality that exists in the world. The other reasons being the country you live in, the industry you join and the company you work for and whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee. However, in this article I will be addressing the topic of personal productivity which can be the game-changer for you if you decide to master it.

*A to-do list helps

Productivity in simple words is defined as the measure of your efficiency in performing some action. One of the things that works for me is writing down five to seven things that I need to accomplish in a day to feel successful and proud of myself. This feeling of accomplishment is important for feeling in charge of your life.

The tool called ‘to-do’ list has generated a lot of negative publicity that it does not work. This publicity obviously was started by people who were never serious about planning and running their day. Once things went haywire they complained about the tool rather than blaming the user of the tool.

* Focus and minimise distractions

How many hours can you work without checking your smartphone or social media? As a matter of practice, I check my phone only after having my meals and rest of the time, I switch off the mobile data. Friends, family and colleagues can reach me over calls on phone or official emails on laptop. I am embarrassed to admit that few years ago a diagnostic smartphone app actually shocked me. I was spending approximately four hours on smartphone and checking it about 300 times daily. The data was consistent and helped me change my phone habits. Smartphones are just one distraction and you need to manage multiple things like TV shows, partying, weddings and sports updates. I do not wish to be prescriptive but we all need to find the right balance between creation and consumption.

*  Stop multitasking

The human brain can do only thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Set your stakeholders’ expectations right and do not try to juggle too many balls at one time. Do not start five projects at once. Start one major and one minor project. Finish them and then move on to the next item on the agenda.

* Be mentally and emotionally aligned

When you do a task happily, you are very productive. Thus, in order to be productive at work, either do only what you love or love everything that you have to do. If your employer wants you to do something and if it cannot be avoided, then do it with a smile. Do not argue too much with people who pay you. You can try to change them through peaceful discussions or power-games, but if you cannot change them then simply change yourself or change your employer. Be emotionally sorted and mentally sharp in any task that you need to undertake. If you are having an exceptionally bad day, then practising gratitude can help you  feel aligned and make you productive.

* Be physically fit and move during the day

Your productivity depends on your ability to run your day in an organised and calm manner. If you stay hydrated and take the right nutrition, you will feel physically fit. Never overeat or take too much caffeine or sugar. Excess sugar, caffeine and overeating disturb the natural metabolism process. Always exercise for 30-60 minutes every day to stay alert and fit. So many people feel sleepy after the lunch hours and wait for the day to end. Never sit for longer for more than an hour at a stretch. Do a quick five-minute stretch and take a brisk walk break after every one hour.

* Delegate what others can do

You cannot be productive if you do not learn to delegate. If you have just started your career and have no one to delegate work to, then it is understandable that you have to do everything yourself. However, if you are a tenured manager than learn to delegate in life. Coach your junior to do what you are doing and move to a bigger challenge in or outside your company. This is the only way to grow financially and to maximise your productivity.

* Upgrade your skills and learn what pays in the market

We are living in a world of unprecedented economic and technological change. The skills that were considered essential for success in the previous decade may no longer guarantee winning in the current or the next decade. Take up the best internet courses and online classes to learn more about the future of your industry. What are the top three skills you must learn to be among the highest paid professional in your job or business?

Read and explore the subject of productivity. The above hacks may not be exhaustive but if practised daily they are enough to trigger a transformation in your life. Go beyond theory and make them part of your routine. My words may not change you but they can inspire you to change. Be inspired and take charge of your life.

Siddhartha S is an author of 5 books — '60 Keys to Success with NLP’, ‘Thank God it’s Monday’, and many others. He calls himself a ‘weekend writer’ and writes on how to attain peak performance in personal life. The views presented are strictly his personal views and cannot be attributed to any organisation he is or will be part of.

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

Significant improvements in positive mood and pain scores, as well as decreases in negative mood and anxiety, were observed, the researchers said. Patients perceived BVAI as overall positive (95 per cent) and wished to participate in future art-based interventions (85 per cent).

A brief bedside art therapy may improve mood and decrease the levels of pain and anxiety in patients with cancer, a study claims. In the study published in the European Journal of Cancer Care, a bedside visual art intervention (BVAI) facilitated by art educators improved mood and reduced pain and anxiety in inpatients with haematological cancers.

The study was conducted on 19 female and two male patients admitted to the inpatient bone marrow transplant and haematologic services at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine-Rochester in the US. They were invited to participate in a BVAI where the goal of the session was to teach art technique for about 30 minutes. Significant improvements in positive mood and pain scores, as well as decreases in negative mood and anxiety, were observed, the researchers said.

Patients perceived BVAI as overall positive (95 per cent) and wished to participate in future art-based interventions (85 per cent), they said. According to the researchers, the findings indicate that experiences provided by artists within the community may be an adjunct to conventional treatments in patients with cancer-related mood symptoms and pain.

Courtesy - Indian Express

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