Ninth Planet May Have Been Discovered, Researchers Say

You might have a replacement, Pluto. There could be another planet in our solar system. 5dcf8bbaa2d419038e0f6a706700bdb4

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have found evidence in the outer solar system of an object that could be a real ninth planet.

There could be another planet in our solar system. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have found evidence in the outer solar system of an object that could be a real ninth planet. Nicknamed Planet Nine, it "has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun" than Neptune. That means "it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun," according to a Caltech.

There could be another planet in our solar system. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have found evidence in the outer solar system of an object that could be a real ninth planet. Nicknamed Planet Nine, it “has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun” than Neptune. That means “it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun,” according to a Caltech.

Nicknamed Planet Nine, it “has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun” than Neptune. That means “it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun,” according to Caltech.

Researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown haven’t actually seen the planet, but other research helped lead them to conclude that there is one. Basically, they found that certain objects in the Kuiper Belt — the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune — had orbits that peculiarly pointed in the same direction.

Over time, mathematical modeling and computer simulation led them to the conclusion that a planet was exerting the gravity necessary to shape these orbits.

Brown says “there have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It’s a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that’s still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting.”

Already, Caltech is pretty confident Planet Nine is large enough to rule out any debate about whether it’s a true planet — unlike Pluto, which got the boot in 2006

Source: Ninth Planet May Have Been Discovered, Researchers Say

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Acoustic survey tracks whale population trends along the coast of Southern California

Posted on by Bob Berwyn:blue_whale_001_noaa_body_color Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin w86bdfeee-b9c8-4a62-baa4-a2488c3728f8-originalhales increasing… 

Staff Report: FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats.To learn more, researchers with the Scripps Marine Bioacoustics Lab and Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab  set out specialized recording devices on the seafloor, tracking whale vocalizations  from 2006-2012.The findings were described in the journal Endangered Species Research. The study was supported by the Office of Naval Research, and provides the first detailed view into the spatial use of Southern California waters by blue and fin whales, the two largest cetacean species in the world. Both are classified as endangered species.

Scripps marine acoustician Ana Širović found that blue whale calls were more commonly detected at coastal sites and near the northern Channel Islands, while fin whale calls were detected further off shore, in central and southern areas.

“I think it’s an interesting difference in trends because both of the species were subject to whaling earlier in the twentieth century, and now they’re clearly responding differently,” said Širović.

The acoustic data and overall trends outlined in this study are consistent with visual observations from another Scripps-led study. Širović said the parallel findings between the two studies as evidence that passive acoustics can be used as a powerful tool to monitor population trends for these large marine mammals.

“I think it’s very exciting that we see the same trends in the visual and acoustic data, because it indicates the possibility of using acoustics to monitor long-term trends and changes,” she said, adding that the new study suggests there is a resident fin whale population in the area.

The seasonal recordings of blue whale calls reinforces what’s already known about their migration from the waters off the coast of Mexico and Costa Rica, arriving in Southern California in late spring to forage through the fall.

The leave in early winter, but researchers aren’t certain where they go next. Although researchers have studied blue and fin whales for years, Širović said both species are particularly mysterious, and scientists still don’t know some basic information about them, such as their mating system or breeding grounds.

The Southern California Bight is a highly productive ecological territory for many marine animals due to strong upwelling of cold water, but researchers have not found any evidence that blue or fin whales are breeding there.

The productivity of the coastal region also makes it a hotbed for human activity, with large cities onshore and ships, commercial fishing vessels, and other human impacts ever-present in the water. Since fin whales generally live further offshore, Širović posits that they might have a slight advantage over blue whales, which tend to inhabit areas where there is more ship traffic–increasing their chances for ship strikes.

“It seems that for fin whales, things are probably improving,” she said Širović.

“For blue whales, it’s a little bit harder to tell. There is a question right now as to whether their population has grown to its maximum capacity, because there are many lines of evidence showing that their population is not growing currently,” she said. “So the question remains, is it because that’s just what their population size can be maximally, or are there factors that are keeping them from growing further?”

Širović hopes that future studies can help identify why there is this difference in population trends of blue and fin whales. Now that she and her colleagues have taken a first look at the broad trends of the two species, they want to dig deeper and look into environmental drivers and other factors and features that may be causing some of the spatial distribution patterns and long-term changes of the whales.4074036

Summit County Citizens Voice

Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin whales increasing

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.

The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.

Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats.

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Pope Francis and the Environment: Why His New Climate Encyclical Matters

The Intersection of Science Religion, Politics & Ethics via Yale University: In the summer of 2015, Pope Francis is expected to issue a Papal Encyclical on the environment, in which he is expected to declare climate action a moral imperative for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. This panel of experts from across several disciplines at Yale discusses the potential implications of this event–and how it might transform the global climate debate for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The Dangers of Over-Prescribing Antibiotics

CDC: Over-prescibing Antibiotics promotes stronger More Resilient Bacteria Growth. This new Bacteria Growth is more resistant to medications, and often causes infections and cancer-type skin spots (these spots appear red and brown) that are much more serious than the original infection being treating.

Antibiotic prescribing in hospitals is inconsistent and often inappropriate—contributing to the emergence of antibiotic resistance, according to an analysis of hospital antibiotic prescribing by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But simple steps, such as implementing checklists, could help hospitals more wisely use these vital medications, the CDC says.

The CDC has launched an increasingly urgent campaign to combat antimicrobial resistance. A report issued by the agency last fall found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect 2 million US individuals each year, causing 23 000 deaths and accounting for $20 billion in health costs. The report also raised the specter of the emergence of untreatable infections.

But in a March press briefing, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said that it is possible to reduce drug resistance rates by establishing antibiotic stewardship programs at hospitals and improving coordination between facilities. “We want to develop the infrastructure in every hospital, so every physician knows how to prescribe properly in the context of [his or her] hospital,” said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate director for health care–associated infection prevention programs at the CDC.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises more judicious use of antimicrobials to treat urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

For its part, the CDC is providing checklists for hospitals and physicians. And with the help of an additional $30 million in funding in the Obama Administration’s proposed 2015 budget, the CDC also plans to build an improved surveillance system to rapidly detect the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

More than half of hospital patients receive an antibiotic during their stay, and nearly a third receive a broad-spectrum antibiotic, according to the CDC’s analysis of data from 323 hospitals. These statistics aren’t terribly surprising, but the wide variations among hospitals are. Frieden noted that some of the 26 hospitals reporting data to the National Healthcare Safety Network prescribe 3 times more antibiotics than others.

“This provides a warning bell that improvement is possible,” Frieden said.

The analysis found frequent mistakes in the treatment of common conditions. Using data from its Emerging Infections Program, which included information on about 11 000 patients at 183 hospitals in 2011, the CDC found that half of all antibiotics were prescribed for 3 conditions: lower respiratory infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and gram-positive infections that are presumed to be resistant. In a review of 296 cases at 36 hospitals in which physicians treated patients with intravenous vancomycin or treated patients with a UTI who did not have a catheter, the CDC found that more than one-third of those cases involved mistakes that could contribute to resistance. For example, samples were not taken before initiating therapy, doses were incorrect, therapy was not reevaluated after 48 hours, or antibiotics were administered for too long.

“The data on surveillance are no surprise, but it is important to have numbers to support stewardship programs,” said Helen Boucher, MD, a physician at Tufts Medical Center and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s board of directors. She noted that the society has advocated for better stewardship of antibiotics for years.

More judicious use of antimicrobials in hospitals could have a big effect. Based on its models, the CDC estimates that a 30% reduction in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in hospitals—representing a 5% reduction in overall hospital antibiotic use—could prevent 26% of Clostridium difficile infections related to antibiotic treatment. These reductions could also help prevent spillover transmission of C difficile into the community.

To aid all these efforts, the CDC plans to use its anticipated funding boost to build the infrastructure necessary to more quickly identify the emergence of resistant strains. Boucher explained that European public health officials are far ahead of the United States in this regard and can provide detailed information on resistance patterns by country and region.

John R. Combes, MD, senior vice president at the American Hospital Association, said that hospitals recognize the need for improvement and that the association is partnering with other organizations to build a toolkit for stewardship programs.

“We must improve our processes, not only to protect our patients, but to protect our antibiotics,” he said.

STEWARDSHIP INFRASTRUCTURE

The CDC recommends that each hospital build an antibiotic stewardship program to provide physicians with the information and tools they need to make the right decisions.

“Antibiotics are a precious resource, yet for decades we have not had a systematic approach in hospitals across the US to ensure they are used wisely,” said Sara Cosgrove, MD, MS, chair of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America antimicrobial stewardship taskforce, in a statement. “Antimicrobial stewardship programs are a critical step toward stemming the tide of antibiotic resistance and ensuring patients are receiving the right antibiotic, at the right dose and for the right duration.”

The CDC recommends that stewardship programs include 7 components:

  • Dedicated human, financial, and technology resources

  • A physician or other leader responsible for overall outcomes

  • A pharmacist leader focused on prescribing

  • An action to improve prescribing, such as requiring reassessment of prescriptions after 48 hours for drug choice, dose, and duration

  • Monitoring of prescribing and resistance patterns

  • Regular reporting of resistance information to clinicians

  • Education about resistance and judicious prescribing

Boucher, who was hired by Tufts to lead its stewardship program, said that not only were these steps reasonable, but that taking them may also bring other benefits for hospitals. She explained that Tufts has saved millions of dollars by improving its stewardship of antibiotics.

Combes emphasized that the recommendations are not intended to limit physicians’ autonomy but to give them the information they need to provide the best care possible. In an age when “health care has become more of a team sport,” he said, the expertise of pharmacists and infectious disease specialists can help a physician choose the right drug.

“This shouldn’t be viewed as a bureaucratic obstacle to good clinical care,” he said. “This is good clinical care.”

The CDC is also recommending that hospitals work more closely with local public health agencies and neighboring health care facilities to better control the spread of microbes between facilities.

“Our hospitals are just one part of a continuous system of care,” said Combes. Courtesy of: Zedie @ wordpress.com

Scientists use ‘NanoVelcro’ and temperature control to extract tumor cells from blood

Someone Somewhere

An international group led by scientists at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute has developed a new method for effectively extracting and analyzing cancer cells circulating in patients’ blood.
Scientists use ‘NanoVelcro’ and temperature control to extract tumor cells from blood

Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that break away from tumors and travel in the blood, looking for places in the body to start growing new tumors called metastases. Capturing these rare cells would allow doctors to detect and analyze the cancer so they could tailor treatment for individual patients.

In his laboratory at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute, Hsian-Rong Tseng, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, used a device he invented to capture circulating tumor cells from blood samples.

The device, called the NanoVelcro Chip, is a postage-stamp–sized chip with nanowires that are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair and are coated with antibodies that recognize circulating tumor cells. When 2 milliliters of blood are run through the chip, the…

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China to Invest $1 Billion in Russian Solar Energy

CHINA TO INVEST $1 BILLION IN RUSSIAN SOLAR ENERGY

Chinese power giant Amur Sirius plans to invest up to 45 billion rubles ($1 billion) in Russian solar energy starting next year, business daily Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

Russia has blazing summers to match its harsh winters, and despite the country’s wealth of hydrocarbon resources, the government is making moves to encourage the emergence of green energy.

Solar Systems, a subsidiary of Amur Sirius, will start construction of a solar panel factory in the Alabuga special economic zone in Russia’s Tatarstan region next year, the company’s investment and finance chief Olga Bykova told the newspaper. Costing between 6 billion and 9 billion rubles, the plant should be completed by 2016, she said.

Solar Systems this summer also won tenders to build 175-megawatt solar power plants in three Russian regions, which will be commissioned between 2016 and 2018. Amur Sirius plans to continue bidding for new energy projects, and the company’s total investment in Russia could reach 45 billion rubles, Bykova said.

The government offers to subsidize green energy sales to guarantee a return on investment, but to qualify for the scheme, solar plants must use domestically produced equipment — hence the Tatarstan factory, Vedomosti reported.

Solar Systems is also considering new projects in Kazakhstan, Armenia and Eastern Europe, Bykova said.

FIGHT BOREDOM, SPREAD HAPPINESS

Chinese power giant Amur Sirius plans to invest up to 45 billion rubles ($1 billion) in Russian solar energy starting next year, business daily Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

Russia has blazing summers to match its harsh winters, and despite the country’s wealth of hydrocarbon resources, the government is making moves to encourage the emergence of green energy.

Solar Systems, a subsidiary of Amur Sirius, will start construction of a solar panel factory in the Alabuga special economic zone in Russia’s Tatarstan region next year, the company’s investment and finance chief Olga Bykova told the newspaper. Costing between 6 billion and 9 billion rubles, the plant should be completed by 2016, she said.

Solar Systems this summer also won tenders to build 175-megawatt solar power plants in three Russian regions, which will be commissioned between 2016 and 2018. Amur Sirius plans to continue bidding for new energy projects, and the company’s total investment in Russia could reach 45 billion rubles, Bykova said.

The government offers to subsidize green energy sales to guarantee a return on investment, but to qualify for the scheme, solar plants must use domestically produced…

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