Mind Blowing Photoshop Project

first_imgWatch the work process of a Photoshop wizard in this epic timelapse process video!So you think you’re good at Adobe Photoshop?  Well, prepare to be astounded in this timelapse video showing one artist’s Photoshop skills.Using a variety of matte painting, lighting, shading and colorization techniques, graphic designer Alexander Koshelkov creates a dramatic depiction of a commercial airliner crashing into an urban highway.  The final picture is composited together from tons of individuals images with stunning precision.  Koshelkov’s Photoshop skills are nothing short of incredible!For best effect watch full screen:Have you seen other amazing Photoshop work?  Share it in the comments!last_img

Premiere Pro CC: Must Know Video Editing Shortcuts

first_imgEdit Clip in Audition:No Default (I use Shift + A)You can right click on a clip to do this, but I use this a lot and this is quicker. This is a round-trip, in that you make your changes in Audition and they show up back in Premiere Pro. I have written on this in more detail here. Some things to know about Groups in Premiere Pro:– If you click on the edge of a clip, it trims just that clip.– If you select the group first, clocking on an edge trims the group– Grouping will let you swap edit multiple clips as one clip. Slide Clip in Sequence:Option + , (left) or Option +. (right)Add Shift to move 5 framesLooks at 3 clips, slides the middle clip left or right.  Thehe clips to the left/right adjust in length (the middle clip stays the same length). Toggle Trim Type:Control + T (Shift on PC)Toggles between standard trim (leaves a gap), ripple and roll. Slip Clip in Sequence:Option+ Command + left/right keysAdd Shift to move 5 framesChanges the in and out points of the clip in the Premiere Pro timeline.  Note, it doesn’t change the length of the clip. Nest:No Default (I use Option + C)Shift + T reveals clips in nestSelect the clips you want to Nest, then press Option + C. Name the Nest a specific, useful name. Do not use the defaults. If I then wanted to step into the Nest I created, Shift + T will show me the original clips. I previously covered Nesting here. Group Clips:Command + GSelect the clips you want to group and press Command + G. When you click on a clip in a group, they all turn grey (selected).  Grouping allows you to move multiple clips as one clip. Replace with Clip from Source:No Default (I use Shift + R)Replace Edits looks at where the playheads are in the Source & Sequence (ignoring the In and Out). I have a video tutorial on this here for more detail. Premiere Pro CC features additional helpful keyboard shortcuts. This is a list of Timeline Shortcuts that will speed up your video editing and let you work smarter.I previously looked at time saving tips in Premiere Pro CS 6 here and here. In addition, Adobe Premiere Pro CC has added a lot of shortcuts to the Default keyboard settings, which saves you the time of adding them individually.To clarify keyboard shortcuts: Mac users have Command & Option, PC users have Control & Alt.  The following shortcuts are written with Command & Option.  Simply sub these keys out for Control & Alt on a PC.All the Default Shortcuts for Premiere Pro CC are listed here.  Let’s dive into some of the must know timeline shortcuts for Premiere Pro CC:center_img Toggle Audio Scrub:Shift + SSometimes you want to hear audio when you scrub, sometimes you don’t. Turning off scrubbing increases processing power. Replace with After Effects Comp:No Default (I use Shift + E)You can also right click on a clip to this, but again I use this often and this Premiere Pro CC shortcut quicker. This is also a round-trip, in that you make your changes in After Effects and they show up back in Premiere Pro. Use this when you need to just send a clip to After Effects for something that cant be done in Premiere Pro (like Motion Tracking). If this is new to you, check the Adobe Help for more info. Add keyframes to Opacity/Volume:Command Click with Selection ToolThis is quicker than switching to the pen tool to add keyframes and then switching back to the selection tool. If you don’t see the white line for opacity/volume, go to the wrench (Timeline Display Settings) and select “Show Video Keyframes” or “Show Audio Keyframes”. Ripple Trim:Next Edit – W , Previous Edit – QLets you trim the head or tail of a clip, a quick way to work. Nudge (move a clip up or down):Up or Down ArrowsHold Alt/Option to select just video or audio (or click the linked selection button), then use the up or down arrow. This will add tracks if they don’t already exist (similar to the FCP behavior) Add Edit:Command + K  (for targeted tracks)Similar to using the Razor Tool, but it cuts tracks that are targeted (will cut all tracks that are targeted). To view your add edits in a Sequence, click the wrench icon and select “Show Through Edits”. Add Default Transitions to Selection:Shift + DThis will apply the default transition to all selected clips. This shortcut now applies the transition to all clips. It didn’t work on the first and last clip in Premiere Pro CS6.Do you have Premiere Pro shortcuts that you can’t live without?Share your favorite Premiere shortcuts in the comments below!last_img read more

How To Create Compelling Content

first_imgAt Dreamforce, a member of the audience asked:“How do you create content that cuts through the noise? How do you get attention now that there is a glut of content being created?” It’s an excellent question. How do you create compelling content? What do you do to bring attention to your company, your brand, or yourself now that the social web has gotten so crowded? How do you stand out in a world of content shock. Here’s a framework for thinking about content creation for sales and marketing.What Is Compelling?First, we have to deal with the idea of “compelling content,” and this is the difficult part. Compelling to whom? Compelling how? Here’s the thing, compelling is in the eye of the beholder. If you want to be compelling, you have to know what is already compelling to your prospective clients or customers–or what should be compelling to them.If you are going to create content as part of your “above the funnel” marketing or nurturing efforts, you need to decide who should be compelled and why. There is no better lens with which to answer this question than your buyer’s journey.“I Hate Everything Right Now”Most buyers beginning their buying journey are compelled by some recognized gap in their performance. They realize that the status quo is no longer serving them, and they are motivated to change. When they start typing their query into Google, they search for content that speaks to that dissatisfaction.The gap might be something as simple as not knowing where to eat dinner in a city you have never visited. It might something more personal, like how to lose weight or get back in shape. But it’s a little more complicated for sales organizations that sell business-to-business where the outcomes are more complicated. The best of your time and energy is spent thinking about the challenges your prospective clients face and how they talk about those challenges.What are the challenges your clients face right now? What are the areas where they struggle to perform as well as they need to? What words do they use to describe those challenges? Writing content that speaks to these challenges is compelling because it is aligned to what your buyers need right now. It serves them by helping them to understand their dissatisfaction, and it puts them on the path to finding answers.“I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know”Buyers need help uncovering their real needs. They have their own ideas about what needs to change and how they might need to do things differently. But they don’t know what they don’t know. When they search for help, they look for help discovering their real needs. They also search for people and companies that can help them understand their needs.One of the strongest benefits of creating compelling content is that you can give your prospective client some idea of how you view their challenges and how they might think about what they need.What do your prospective clients need to do to overcome their challenges? What do they need to change, why do they need to change it, and how does that change make a difference? Your answers here give your prospective buyers the insight as to how they might think about their needs while providing clues about what you believe and how you might help.“What Are My Options?”Once your prospective buyers understand what they need, they want to know what their choices are to effectively deal with that need. At this stage of their journey, you have a lot of great options for producing content.What are the range of choices available to your prospective clients? What can they do? What are the tradeoffs they may need to consider? Would you recommend one course of action over another?But there is a second set of questions here that can guide you towards compelling content. How are you different? And more importantly, why do you do what you do in a way that is different than your competitors? How does that difference make a difference for your clients?Some of the content you create should help you position yourself in your market. It should differentiate you by explaining what you believe makes a difference in producing the results your buyer needs.“Prove It”The final stage buyers march through on their journey is avoiding risk and ensuring execution. Stories are compelling, and so is data. What stories can you tell about where your clients were when you found each other, what you discovered together, and how you produced better results? What measurements can you use to speak about the impact of the changes you made?Content that tells the story of how you helped your client get to the better results they were seeking give your prospective clients the vision of what they can look forward to. It helps them to see their future results. That vision can be seriously compelling.Compelling How?You create content to help your prospective buyer through their journey, but you need to compel them to take some action. Your content needs to leave them with a call to action. If you can help them better understand the source of their dissatisfaction, your content needs to compel them to connect with you in whatever way best serves both of you in exploring ways you might help.How do you make it easy for your prospective buyer to connect with you? How do you assure them that by connecting you that you are going to be helpful instead of desperately trying to prematurely push them for a deal? What is the first commitment you need them to make and what is the value proposition for them when they agree to that commitment? Is it signing up for more information? Is it scheduling a call?A Final WarningThe biggest mistake you can make in designing a content strategy is to withhold. Your content will never be compelling if you don’t tell your prospective client the what, why, and the how. If you aren’t willing to share how they can improve what they are doing now, your content will fall short of the mark. It won’t be compelling because it doesn’t provide any answers and it leaves your prospective buyer even more dissatisfied. You can’t create content that leaves your prospective client in the same stage as where you found them.Many sales organizations are too fearful about sharing content that answers their buyer’s questions with actionable information. They believe that their answers are their intellectual property, and sharing deprives them of the ability to capture some of the value they create. There is some truth to this, and there is some risk. But the greatest risk for most sales organizations now is that they share content that isn’t compelling, doesn’t help their prospective client with their buying journey, and doesn’t give them the experience of what it might be like to work with them. The greater risk is irrelevance.Create compelling content by looking at what your prospective clients or buyers need as they work their way through their buying journey. The more helpful you are in serving their needs here, the more your content will be compelling. And the more likely you are to create new clients.last_img read more

Over 245 benami transactions identified: Minister

first_imgPanaji: More than 245 benami transactions have been identified since the amended Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, came into effect, Union Minister of State Santosh Kumar Gangwar told the Congress’s Shantaram Naik in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.The Minister said that though the Act has been on the statute book since more than 28 years, it could not be made operational because of certain inherent defects. He said there is no provision of filing of charge-sheets under the Act.He also said that with a view to provide an effective regime for prohibition of benami transactions, the Act was amended through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016.The amended law, which came into effect on November 1 last year, empowers authorities to provisionally attach benami properties that can eventually be confiscated. Show cause notices for provisional attachment of benami properties have been issued in 140 cases, involving properties worth nearly ₹200 crore. Out of these, provisional attachment has already been effected in 124 cases. The properties attached include deposits in bank accounts and immovable properties, Mr. Gangwar said in his written reply to Mr. Naik.“If a person is found guilty of benami transaction by the competent court, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than one year, which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to a fine, which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the property. There is also provision for rigorous imprisonment for a term, which shall not be less than six months and may extend to five years, and a fine for giving false information under the amended Act,” the Minister said.last_img read more

Not bound to consult Home Ministry on J&K polls, say EC sources

first_imgResponding to reports that the Union Home Ministry had advised against polls in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the current security situation, Election Commission (EC) sources said the electoral body was not bound to consult the Ministry for the conduct of elections.The EC sources said as per its assessment, coupled with the response of the State government, if the prevailing conditions were conducive for holding of Panchayat elections by the State government, then holding of parliamentary elections is also possible.The Anantnag bypoll is scheduled for April 12.”The election of Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency was due before April 16, and it was a constitutional obligation to hold the elections. The State Government was consulted on the subject as it is responsible for the law and order and security issues,” said an EC source.Stating that the Home Ministry is only responsible for providing para-military forces, the source said the EC is not bound to consult the Ministry before holding any elections.”The State government had informed the Commission that the preparation for free, fair and peaceful elections are being made and a comprehensive deployment plan was also worked out by the police. They also upgraded the security of political leaders and candidates,” said the source.last_img read more

Haryana ‘stalking’ case: CCTV cameras along route ‘non-functional’, say police

first_imgUnder attack for diluting the case of alleged stalking and attempted kidnap of a young woman on Friday night by Vikas Barala, son of the Haryana State BJP president Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish, the Chandigarh police on Monday found itself again in the dock after it was reported that CCTV footage from at least five locations was missing as the cameras were non-functional. The duo was released soon after their arrest on Friday night.The police were tight-lipped on the allegations of CCTV footage having gone “missing”. “We are in the process of gathering feed from CCTVs along the route of the incident. Technical analysis will be done once the footage is collected,” Eish Singhal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh, told reporters here.‘Centre covering up’While the opposition Congress accused the Central government of attempting to hush up the entire matter to protect the Haryana State BJP president’s son, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said he would file a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for a court-monitored CBI probe.“Home Ministry, which directly controls the UT administration and UT Police of Chandigarh, is attempting to hush up the entire matter to protect the Haryana State BJP president and his son,” said senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.Haryana State BJP media head Rajeev Jain, meanwhile, said Mr. Subhash Barala had not resigned and rumours about his resignation were false. Defending Mr. Barala, vice-president of the Chandigarh BJP unit Ramveer Bhatti instead asked why the victim was out so late at night.The victim responded to the statement, saying, “Instead of asking me, those boys should be questioned why were they out so late.”“While on one hand we speak about empowering the women and on the other hand such ridiculous talks are done,” she said while speaking to reporters, adding that she would not be deterred by such frivolous statements.She said that “It’s because of boys like these (accused) that women are unsafe.”Commenting on the dropping of IPC section 365 (kidnapping) and 511 (attempt to commit offences punishable with imprisonment) by the Chandigarh police, she said the police had been helpful and she could not comment on the sections invoked.‘No pressure’, say policePunjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said no attempt should be made to dilute the charges against the accused in the case. Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police Eish Singhal denied that the police was under any kind of political pressure, saying the force was quick enough to register the case.He, however, chose not to give a direct answer on the question regarding non-functional CCTV cameras, saying “CCTV footages are being collected”.Mr. Singhal also said as the investigations were underway, other sections of the IPC would also be added to the FIR if requried.Police sources said CCTV footage from private cameras was available and the police had started examining them to trace the vehicle stalking the victim, but as far as the feed from CCTVs installed by the administration was concerned, the police are yet to have access.(With inputs from PTI)last_img read more

Kashmir shut down over Article 35A

first_imgThe Kashmir and Chenab Valleys on Saturday observed a shutdown over the issue of Article 35A. Meanwhile, regional parties, including the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), pushed for a consensus against any revocation, while the BJP decried “deliberate fear psychosis”.Authorities set up barricades in parts of Srinagar to keep protesters at bay in the wake of the separatists’ call for a shutdown. However, traders associated with the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) held a demonstration at Lal Chowk.Normal life hitThe shutdown affected normal life as schools, offices and petrol pumps remained closed. There was thin traffic on the roads. Train services were also suspended.In Jammu region’s Chenab Valley, the bandh call was issued by Anjuman Islamia Bhadarwah, Markazi Seerat Committee Doda, Anjuman Islamia Gandoh, Masjid Committee Thathri and Majlis-e-Shoura Kishtwar against the “dilution of J&K’s special status”.Kashmir is witnessing a political storm following the Attorney-General’s suggestion to the Supreme Court in July “to have a larger debate on Article 35A” while it is being challenged by an NGO. The Article defines exclusive rights of locals in J&K over jobs, immovable property and scholarships.After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, CM Mehbooba Mufti also met the BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav as “part of consensus building against any erosion of special status”, as per the agenda of the alliance. However, National Conference (NC) leader Ali Muhammad Sagar alleged that “Ms. Mufti’s wishy-washy claim of getting an alleged assurance from the PM stood exposed as senior BJP leaders talk of no change in total and complete opposition to Article 35A and Article 370”. The NC’s provincial president claimed that “Jammu Dogras would be the main sufferers if Article 35A is scrapped”.“Jammu people should be given a chance to hold a referendum on whether Article 35A should stay or go,” said Mr. Rana, while describing Pakistan statement over the issue “a ploy.”However, BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta accused the NC of “creating a fear psychosis.”“NC’s statement clearly indicates the mindset of his party that has always advocated politics of exclusion,” said Mr. Gupta.last_img read more

4 CRPF personnel injured in landmine attack

first_imgFour CRPF personnel including an assistant commandant were injured in a landmine explosion in Latu jungle under Baresaad police station of Naxal-affected Latehar district today, police said. The landmine was allegedly laid by the CPI (Maoists), sources said. DIG Vipul Shukla said an assistant commandant Gengte, Havildar Nitesh Pandey, Gopal Yadav and Deepak Singh of the para-military force sustained injuries in the incident. All the injured have been shifted by helicopter to Ranchi for better treatment, he said. The incident occurred in course of an anti-Naxal operation in the foothills of Budha Pahar — a suspected strong base of the Naxals. As soon as they reached the foothills, an explosion took place, injuring the security personnel who were cordoning off the Budha Pahar following an incident of abduction of some villagers in adjoining Garwah district. Budha Pahar borders adjacent districts such as Garwah, Gumla as well as the state of Chattisgarh.last_img read more

Top Maoist, wife arrested in Maharashtra

first_imgNagpur: The Maharashtra Police on Friday claimed to have arrested senior Maoist leader Ramanna, who headed the technical department of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Chhattisgarh.“The police on Friday arrested Rammana alias Shrinivas Vitthalanna Madru along with his wife Padma from Ballarshah town of Chandrapur district. The police had intelligence inputs that Ramanna was seen there along with his wife. The Chandrapur district police laid a trap, arrested the couple and handed them over to Gadchiroli police,” a statement issued by the Gadchiroli police said. Ramanna, 65, was working in the Maoist movement since 1976-77. He was given the responsibility of the rebels’ technical wing in 1995. He worked for the Maoists in Kondagoan, Maad, Tipagarh, Aheri and Bastar area after 1996.“He was involved in the manufacture of weapons for the Maoists. He also worked as a trainer to the young Maoist cadres in weapon training. He carried a reward of ₹25 lakh,” the police statement added.A police record, accessed by The Hindu, shows that Ramanna was the member of the CPI (Maoist) Danda Karanya Special Zonal Committee and was also known by the names of Ravi and Suresh.Ramanna’s wife Padma Kodape alias Sammakka alias Lata was working for the CPI (Maoist) since 1992 and carried a reward of ₹6 lakh and was believed to be involved in violent incidents in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra.last_img read more

Oppn. sharpens attack on Cong. ahead of Punjab bypoll

first_imgPunjab’s Opposition parties have sharpened their attack on the ruling Congress government ahead of the Shahkot Assembly bypoll on May 28 after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh accused the Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party of implicating the Congress’s candidate in an illegal sand mining case to tarnish his image.“The Election Commission should issue arrest orders against Congress Shahkot by-poll candidate Hardev Singh Laddi immediately,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Wednesday while addressing a rally in support of party candidate Naib Singh Kohar.‘CM violated code’The Akalis had also submitted a memorandum to Chief Electoral Officer S. Karuna Raju, in which they accused the Chief Minister of violating the model code of conduct during a press conference on May 7.“The Chief Minister gave a clean chit to Congress candidate Hardev Singh Laddi even as the police booked him for illegal mining activity. Indirectly the Chief Minister aimed at pressurising the police to not act against the Congress leader,” alleged SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema, adding an inquiry into the illegal sand mining case against the Congress candidate should be conducted by the Election Commission.Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly and AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira also alleged that Capt. Amarinder was misusing his official authority and the police machinery to influence the outcome of the Shahkot by-election.“An FIR was registered against the Congress candidate and others for illegal mining on the directions of Election Commission of India. However, the Chief Minister recently termed the FIR as politically motivated and accused the opposition leaders including myself and Akali leader Daljit Singh Cheema of being the architects of the FIR. By making such remarks the Chief Minister has become party to the tainted Congress candidate,” said Mr. Khaira.“I urge the Election Commission to initiate action against Capt. Amarinder for derailing investigations against the Congress candidate for Shahkot bypoll,” added Mr. Khaira.last_img read more

SIT formed to speed up M.P. rape probe

first_imgThe DNA samples of the two people arrested on charges of abducting and raping a minor girl in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur city were sent for examination and a special investigation team (SIT) had been formed to speed up the probe, the police said on Sunday.The SIT will be headed by City Superintendent of Police Rakesh Mohan Shukla and will include a legal adviser. Mr. Shukla said 70% of the investigation had been completed and a blood-stained knife, the victim’s school bag, among other things, were recovered.Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Singh said the DNA samples of the accused, identified as Irfan, 20, and Asif, 24, were sent for examination on Saturday.Being counselledHe said the police were waiting for the victim to recover in order to record her statement while her mother’s statement had already been recorded. Doctors said her condition was improving and she was being counselled by psychiatrists to recover from the trauma. The father of the girl on Sunday demanded capital punishment for the accused, saying he does not want compensation from the government.last_img read more

Tripura seeks help from Centre after SpiceJet announces suspension of operation

first_imgTripura government sought intervention of Civil Aviation Ministry after SpeiceJet announced to suspend operation in Tripura from September 1. Officials sources on Friday said Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has also personally taken up the matter with Civil Aviation Minister Jayanata Sinha. He urged Mr. Sinha to ensure continuation of the present flight availability at Agartala airport.SpiceJet authority in a letter on July 11 informed Airport Director to stop operation in the sector from September 1 and that it will operate the last flight on August 1. The letter did not provide any specific reason for the suspension of flights.Earlier Jet Airways withdrew from Tripura in 2012 followed by a few other small airlines. Sources said despite providing concessions in many ways, private airlines were showing reluctance for being unable to make large profit in flight operations in the region.Indigo and Air India are two other airliners which are operating in Tripura. Indigo runs direct flights between Agartala and places such as Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal and Silchar.The state government swung into action after airport authority forwarded a copy of the letter to Chief Secretary and Transport Secretary. Sources said the state government was also exploring possibility to lower VAT to further encourage air operators.last_img read more

DNA forensics a vital tool in cracking wildlife crimes

first_imgIn November 2017, 23-year-old youth from North 24 Parganas in West Bengal killed a wild animal and posted photographs on a social media platform. State Forest Department officials tracked down the man but by then the meat was half cooked and the accused denied all allegations. However, a few samples of the cooked meat brought to the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata, were enough to nail the accused. A forensic DNA analysis showed that the meat was that of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), a Schedule II species protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The analysis helped Forest Department officials press charges against the youth and in further prosecution of the case.In another incident, Forest Department officials arrested three persons from Raidighi in the State’s South 24 Parganas near the Sunderban National Park. Forest officials suspected that the accused were carrying deer meat. The sample recovered from the suspects gave no clues about identity of the species. In this instance, the ZSI’s DNA analysis showed that the meat was that of cattle. The three accused were subsequently released and cleared of all charges.“With investigating agencies facing increased challenges of collecting evidence to ensure convictions in wildlife crimes, DNA forensics are providing a major headway,” said Mukesh Thakur, a scientist with the ZSI’s wildlife forensics team who has contributed to the research.Details of case studies, where advanced DNA forensics were used to help prosecute wildlife related crimes, have been documented in a recently published ZSI report, titled “Ascertaining species of origin from confiscated meat using DNA forensics and Wildlife forensics in nullifying the false accusation.”“Illegal wildlife crime is not confined to a region or to a country but it is an organized crime where several people are involved — from local hunters to the end buyers. This calls for an urgent need to employ techniques of DNA forensics to improve conviction rate which at present remains very low,” Dr. Thakur told The Hindu. Referring to two instances where pangolin scales were seized from Siliguri in August 2017 and April 2018, Dr. Thakur said DNA analysis revealed that these scales were from the Chinese Pangolin whose habitat is restricted to five states in northeast India including parts of north Bengal.Reference database“We have now developed morphology-based identification protocols for distinguishing scales of Indian and Chinese Pangolin with high confidence,” he said. The ZSI is now developing protocols to identify the number of individuals killed in a seizure from the DNA analyses, he added. Scientists at the ZSI, however, pointed out that in most cases the samples they receive from investigating agencies in cases of wildlife crime are disfigured and have lost characters of morphological identity, which poses a major challenge.Wider database“We are not just confining our efforts up to species identification but our scientists are also involved in creating a reference database to assign the seizures to the source of origin, identifying sexes from seizures to understand poaching/ hunting pressure on the species which might impact the species demography in coming years,” said Director of ZSI Kailash Chandra.According to Dr Chandra, the ZSI is one of four organisations authorised by the Government of India to submit species identification reports from the confiscated materials.“We have a dedicated facility for DNA analysis at the ZSI, where we can identify samples at the molecular level using DNA forensics. This new tool is helping in solving a number of wildlife crimes,” he added. The ZSI has also formulated a standard operating procedure in the investigation of wildlife crime. The ZSI also organised a workshop for law enforcement agencies titled ‘Wildlife Forensics and Crime Control’, where the participants were informed on using new technological tools to combat wildlife crime.last_img read more

I will never reveal my sources: Trinamool chief

first_imgWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday raked up the Rafale issue while releasing the list of candidates of the Trinamool Congress.“What Rahul Gandhi is saying on Rafale, I fully endorse it. After N. Ram [Chairman of the The Hindu Group] did a story on that, he has been threatened. This is what journalists are expected to do, to look for sources and nobody reveals their sources,” she said. Last week, the Trinamool Congress chairperson had condemned “threats by BJP” to Mr. Ram.Ms. Banerjee, who showed minutes of the RBI Board meeting on demonetisation obtained through an RTI query, said she too never revealed her sources.last_img

Paralyzed Patients ‘Speak’ With Their Pupils

first_imgLying in bed, unable to move a muscle, so-called locked-in patients have few ways to communicate with the outside world. But researchers have now found a way to use the widening and narrowing of the pupils to send a message, potentially helping these patients break the silence.Doctors use the constriction of pupils under bright light to test whether a patient’s brain stem is intact. But our pupils also show the opposite response—dilation—based on our thoughts and emotions, says Wolfgang Einhäuser, a neurophysicist at Philipps University of Marburg in Germany. Einhäuser had been struggling to interpret changes in pupil size during decision-making when he began to wonder about a different application. He contacted Steven Laureys, a member of the Coma Science Group at the University Hospital of Liège in Belgium, to explore how the pupil could be used to communicate a choice. Laureys works with locked-in patients, who have normal mental acuity but are paralyzed and unable to express thoughts to those around them. Many can control only the muscles that move their eyes; some, not even that. They can learn to communicate using EEG technology, in which electrodes on the scalp detect changes in brain activity. But applying the electrode cap is time-consuming, and the equipment is expensive, Einhäuser says. “If you imagine doing that every day, basically to communicate, that’s troublesome.”To find a different technique, Einhäuser, Laureys, and colleagues reached back in time. “The pieces have been there since the early ’60s,” Einhäuser says. A 1964 study showed that our pupils dilate when we perform mental arithmetic, like attempting to multiply 27 and 15 with no pencil and paper, and that harder tasks led to more dramatic dilation. The team set up a camera and a laptop to explore this automatic response.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Healthy subjects were asked a yes-or-no question with one right answer, such as “Is your brother named Adam?” They watched a computer screen that displayed a math problem while announcing the response “Yes.” A few seconds later, it said “No” and showed a second problem. The subjects were asked to compute only the problem displayed with the correct answer and to ignore the other. A camera in front of their eyes measured precise changes in their pupils. It didn’t matter if they got the problem right, or if they completed it at all. Mental effort alone was enough to dilate their pupils and indicate which answer they chose, the team reports today in Current Biology. Einhäuser says that patients could use their pupils to respond to any question with two possible answers. The simple laptop and camera setup would cost less than $1000, he says.Six healthy individuals and seven locked-in patients tried the new setup, answering a series of yes-or-no questions and computing the problem only for their chosen answer. The method had 84% to 99% success in reading the responses of healthy patients. Three of the seven paralyzed patients got better-than-chance results: The computer picked their intended answer between 67% and 84% of the time. Although far from perfect, these levels represent “very good accuracy,” according to Niels Birbaumer, a neurobiologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany who specializes in helping locked-in patients regain communication.Einhäuser points out that with training, the effectiveness would improve dramatically: The patients could become more experienced at directing their mental effort, and the computer program would improve its accuracy through repeated trials.  The team also tried the system with patients who had more severe brain damage and whose level of mental ability was unclear. Only one of four patients was able to complete the task, and his results were no better than chance. But when he was instructed to try the math problem, his pupil response showed when he was computing. Einhäuser thinks, based on this result, that the system could also be a diagnostic tool for gauging brain function. Although this may only be a “piece in the big repertoire,” he believes that it could prove useful in remote hospitals with few resources.Birbaumer is skeptical of this diagnostic use, saying that it will add little to existing techniques. He also notes that many patients already have communication systems based on moving their eyes side-to-side or up and down. But he acknowledges that for people who cannot control the muscles in their eyes, the pupil response could be a useful alternative.The team now hopes to make the system faster and more user-friendly and to have patients try other binary choices, such as selecting letters to spell words. “For really complete locked-patients, even if they communicate one letter in a minute,” Einhäuser says, “that is still far above nothing.”last_img read more

How Birds Survived the Dinosaur Apocalypse

first_imgWhen nearly every dinosaur went extinct 66 million years ago, the only ones that survived were those that had shrunk—that is, the birds. Today, there are 10,000 species of these feathered fliers, making them the most diverse of all the four-limbed animals. A new study reveals why this lineage has been so successful: Birds started downsizing well before the rest of the dinosaurs disappeared.“This is a very impressive piece of work and by far the most comprehensive analysis of dinosaur body size that has been conducted,” says Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the research. “The study shows that birds didn’t just become small suddenly, but were the end product of a long-term trend of body size decline that took many tens of millions of years.”Dinosaurs were small in the beginning. About 230 million years ago, most weighed between 10 and 35 kilograms and were as big as a medium-sized dog. But many species soon soared to tractor-trailer proportions, reaching 10,000 kilograms within 30 million years. Later on, dinosaurs like the mighty Argentinosaurus, which stretched some 35 meters from nose to tail, weighed in at a staggering 90,000 kilograms.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Although many dinosaurs were getting bigger and bulkier over millions of years, one group seems to have hedged its bets on body size: the maniraptorans, feathered dinos that include Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame and that eventually gave rise to the birds. To pin down how dinosaur size changed over time, a team led by Roger Benson, a paleontologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, estimated the body size of 426 different species, using the thickness of their fossilized hind leg bones as a proxy for their overall weight.The team found that although all dinosaur groups rapidly changed size at the beginning of dinosaur evolution—primarily by getting bigger—that trend slowed down fairly quickly in almost all groups. For the most part, the dinos that got big stayed that way. The exception was the maniraptorans, which continued to evolve bigger and smaller species as they expanded into an ever wider variety of ecological niches over a period of 170 million years.When an asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago, only those feathered maniraptorans that had downsized to about 1 kilogram or so—the birds—were able to survive, probably because their small size allowed them to adapt more easily to changing conditions, the team concludes online today in PLOS Biology. The researchers argue that being small made it easier for maniraptorans to adapt to a wider variety of habitats, whereas the rest of the dinosaurs, encumbered by their huge bodies and enormous food requirements, simply didn’t make it.This size reduction was essential for the evolution of flight, says Luis Chiappe, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in California, who was not involved in the study. “Flight is easier for smaller animals” because it is “a lot less energetically demanding,” he says. And during all those millions of years when maniraptorans were changing body size more quickly than other dinos, Chiappe says, “they were experimenting with various degrees of birdness.”“The really interesting story,” Brusatte adds, “isn’t so much to do with how some dinosaurs got so huge, but rather how birds and their close relatives got so small.”last_img read more

ScienceShot: Why Octopuses Don’t Tie Themselves in Knots

first_imgWhy don’t an octopus’s arms become hopelessly entangled? Their appendages can move with seemingly infinite freedom, forming far more postures and positions than their brains could possibly keep tabs on. The key, according to a study published online today in Current Biology, is chemicals in their skin. By examining amputated octopus arms (don’t worry, they grow back) of the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris, shown), researchers have found that the creature’s suckers don’t latch on to its own arms the way they snare everything else. Petri dishes coated with intact octopus skin became “immune” to the zombie arms. The same occurred if the skin was ground up into a mush and spread over the petri dish, implying that a special substance in the skin is responsible for repelling the suckers. That’s important because octopuses have been known to dine on their comrades. So somehow a chemical in their skin not only keeps them from tangling themselves up, but it also prevents them from eating themselves alive.last_img read more

Got charisma? Depends on your voice

first_imgWhen charismatic Italian politician Umberto Bossi (pictured above) suffered a severe stroke in 2004, the disease changed his voice, and, strangely enough, his public image. He went from being seen as an authoritarian figure to a benevolent one. To figure out why, researchers collected sound clips of Bossi speaking before and after the stroke and analyzed various acoustic parameters. They discovered that the most prominent transformation was a narrowing of the range of frequency variation in his voice. His intonation had become very flat, probably due to asymmetrical muscle weakness caused by the stroke. When the researchers carried out more studies on the speeches of charismatic political leaders like French President François Hollande, former Italian prosecutor and current mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, and former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, they found that a low-frequency voice is another important indicator for dominant or even threatening speeches. The findings, reported at the 168th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Indianapolis this week, bolster a 2013 study, which found that deeper voiced male CEOs tend to manage bigger firms and earn higher salaries.last_img read more

Moratorium on risky virology studies leaves work at 14 institutions in limbo

first_imgLike many influenza virologists, John Steel of Emory University in Atlanta often uses a feeble lab strain of influenza in his studies of how seasonal flu spreads. “It’s a nasty virus if you’re a mouse” but doesn’t sicken humans, Steel says of this 80-year-old lab strain, known as PR8. But last month, under orders from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Steel told his two staff members working with PR8 to put their experiments on hold and find other things to do while NIH decides whether the work falls under a temporary ban on risky virus experiments.“Our feeling is that the likelihood [of harm from studies with the PR8 strain] is exceedingly slim,” says Walter Orenstein, who oversees Emory’s NIH-funded influenza research center. “But it’s something for the NIH to decide.”Last month in an unusual step, the U.S. government announced a “pause” in federal funding for virology studies that involve tweaking influenza, MERS, and SARS viruses in ways that could make them more transmissible or pathogenic in mammals. The government encouraged everyone conducting such gain-of-function (GOF) projects to voluntarily pause while experts spend a year hashing out the risks and benefits of the studies and developing a policy for when to allow them.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The United States’s move came amid long-running concerns about GOF studies involving highly pathogenic avian flu strains such as H5N1. But the funding pause covers much more. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, ScienceInsider obtained copies of the 18 letters from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) telling 14 institutions to halt projects that may be covered by the pause. They suggest a scramble at NIAID to sort out exactly which projects must stop in the wake of the new order, which came from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services.The instructions vary according to whether the work is done under contract or grant. The “Notice of Partial Stop Work Order” letters sent on 21 October to the seven institutions with government-funded contracts are blunt: They state that specific projects “must stop effective immediately” if they fall under the pause policy and give investigators 14 days to submit a list of halted experiments. But NIAID soon stepped back with a 30 October letter explaining that scientists should work with contracting officers to decide whether their experiments fall under the new policy.The 11 letters to institutions with grants state the pause is voluntary because the studies are already funded, but that once that funding runs out the work must stop. Investigators have 90 days to tell NIAID which experiments are stopping and to propose different directions for their research. (ScienceInsider compiled this list of the halted grants.)Many investigators are in the midst of negotiating with NIAID about whether some truly fit the policy’s GOF definition or, even if they do, are important enough to public health that they should be allowed to continue. (The NIH director can approve exemptions for research urgently needed to protect public health.) Among the halted projects:MERS and SARS: The pause includes three grants and two contracts that are attempting to develop a strain of the MERS coronavirus that sickens mice so that researchers will have an animal model for testing MERS drugs and vaccines. Matthew Frieman of the University of Maryland and NIAID intramural researcher Kanta Subbarao, whose planned MERS mouse project is also on hold, argued at a recent meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) that their work should be exempted because of the current MERS outbreak in the Middle East. Two projects on SARS, another coronavirus, have also been stopped.Influenza: Besides stopping grants for controversial GOF studies of H5N1 in the lab of University of Wisconsin, Madison, virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka, the pause covers contracts for NIAID’s five Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS). The long-running program conducts surveillance for potential pandemic flu strains in the wild and studies the factors that allow influenza viruses to spread.One center is at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, whose investigator Stacey Schultz-Cherry warned NSABB last month that the pause had halted important flu surveillance studies. The letter states that the pause potentially applies to six projects that range from studying the ecology of avian flu in live bird markets in Colombia to looking at drug-resistance mutations in seasonal influenza strains. St. Jude told ScienceInsider in a statement that after an internal review, investigators have halted all GOF studies but that “routine surveillance work will not be impacted.”At Emory, the pause has halted not only the CEIRS project with the lab-attenuated PR8 strain, but also a research grant project headed by Anice Lowen that is looking at how the cell types targeted by two different influenza viruses affect their propensity to exchange genes. Lowen, who has told NIAID she thinks the study does not fall under the pause definition, says the uncertainty is affecting her ability to recruit new graduate students because she can’t say for sure which projects they might work on.An investigator at the CEIRS center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, virologist Andrew Pekosz, says he has halted two projects listed in his stop work letter. But he has told NIAID that his studies introducing changes to seasonal influenza to understand how it circulates year to year are not done with the intention of increasing pathogenicity or transmissibility. “I don’t think they qualify as gain-of-function,” he says.Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, who has pushed for a moratorium on GOF studies on potential pandemic pathogens, told ScienceInsider he could not comment on the paused studies without seeing details. He points out that NIH funds at least 220 influenza research grants, so the pause has stopped only a small fraction. Still, “Flu and coronavirus research is extremely important as an overall NIH activity, and it will be crucial to separate the activities that meet the definition of the pause from those that don’t,” he says. At last month’s NSABB meeting, the board discussed plans to write U.S. officials to express concerns about the reach of the pause. The board is holding a teleconference on 25 November to finalize its draft statement.last_img read more

Warming Arctic may be causing heat waves elsewhere in world

first_imgGlobal warming is increasing temperatures twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere on the planet. Some scientists have suggested that this so-called Arctic amplification can alter circulation patterns that affect weather in the United States, Europe, and Asia, potentially helping cause the powerful winter storms and deep freezes that have blasted the midlatitudes over the past decade. A new study suggests Arctic warming could ultimately pack a summertime punch, too, possibly contributing to extreme events such as the deadly 2010 Russian heat wave.Melting sea ice in the Arctic has left vast expanses of dark open water available to absorb the sun’s energy. In the late autumn and early winter, when sea ice is at a minimum and temperatures begin to cool, the ocean releases that extra heat and moisture back into the atmosphere. Those fluxes help drive a positive feedback effect, further intensifying warming in the region.One result of this Arctic amplification is that there’s less of a temperature difference between the Arctic and the lower latitudes. Some scientists have suggested that the lower temperature gradient is weakening the winds that circle the globe, particularly the polar jet stream. In the wintertime, the idea goes, a weaker, wavier jet stream could promote more and longer bouts of frigid air reaching farther south, leading to extreme snowfalls such as those that struck the eastern United States in the past few years.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But winter cold spells are just one part of a possibly larger story. The jet stream is weaker in summertime, too—and it “has been weakening over the last 36 years,” says Dim Coumou, a climatologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and lead author on the new paper. While many of his colleagues have plugged away at the higher profile winter extremes debate, Coumou has focused on summer extremes. “Of course, heat extremes are on the rise almost everywhere on the globe, purely because we’re warming the air,” Coumou says. “But on top of that, changes in atmospheric circulation can favor particular weather conditions associated with heat waves.”Coumou has examined the waviness of the jet stream in previous work and has suggested that its large twists and turns, slow-moving undulations called Rossby waves, promote atmospheric “blocking”—a kind of stagnation of weather patterns that he says can exacerbate heat waves. But in the new study, he and his colleagues took a different tack: Instead of focusing on blocking and slow-moving Rossby waves, they turned to smaller and quicker undulations called “free, transient Rossby waves.” The winding path of these waves sketches out storm tracks across the midlatitudes.What Coumou and his team wanted to know, he says, was how the energy of these weather systems has changed over time, from 1979 to present. The kinetic energy of large-scale weather systems—including cyclones and anticyclones—is closely tied to the overall strength of the jet stream, Coumou says. “If the jet is strong, the wind shear will be strong.” And shear is important in generating “eddies”—cyclonic or anticyclonic swirls of energy—within the overall wind flow. “So if you see a weakening of the jet, it’s logical that you’ll also see a weakening of the kinetic energy of these systems.”Coumou and colleagues analyzed observational data on daily winds for June, July, and August from 1979 to 2013, focusing on the Northern Hemisphere’s midlatitudes (between 35° north and 70° north). They found a slow decline in the overall “eddy kinetic energy”—a drop of about 8% to 15% in summertime energy during that time period, they report online today in Science. In other words, there were fewer, or less intense, summertime storms.“That is very important for weather conditions on the continents,” Coumou says. “In summertime, these systems bring cool and moist air from oceans to continents and have a moderating effect on the continental weather.” In the absence of such storms, he adds, there’s a greater likelihood of drought and lingering heat. The researchers also noted a statistically significant relationship between times of low eddy kinetic energy and extremely high temperature anomalies—for example, the sweltering Russian heat wave of 2010.The paper is “an important contribution” and “a new perspective on mechanisms linking Arctic amplification with midlatitude weather patterns,” says Jennifer Francis, a climatologist at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, in New Jersey. “When these small [free Rossby] waves get weaker in summer, they tend to be associated with more stagnant weather conditions, particularly heat waves.”The finding of an overall decrease in summer storminess is “reasonably convincing,” says James Screen, a climatologist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. But, he says, the difficulty is linking this effect to Arctic amplification. There are many factors that can affect the number and intensity of storms—not just the temperature gradient between pole and equator, but also east to west gradients and vertical gradients at both larger and local scales. “It’s unclear to what extent changes in storminess are … part of the large-scale Arctic amplification or [are] due to more local factors.”Coumou has taken the story forward, analyzing existing climate models to track the future of eddy kinetic energy over the 21st century. “In those you see a clear weakening; it’s a robust signal in those models”—and that, the authors suggest, means that recent bouts of extreme heat might be just the beginning.last_img read more