Researchers make a water filter from the sapwood in tree branches.

If you’ve run out of drinking water during a lakeside camping trip, there’s a simple solution: Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark, and slowly pour lake water through the stick. The improvised filter should trap any bacteria, producing fresh, uncontaminated water.

In fact, an MIT team has discovered that this low-tech filtration system can produce up to four liters of drinking  a day—enough to quench the thirst of a typical person.

In a paper published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers demonstrate that a small piece of sapwood can filter out more than 99 percent of the bacteria E. coli from water. They say the size of the pores in sapwood—which contains xylem tissue evolved to transport sap up the length of a tree—also allows water through while blocking most types of bacteria.

Co-author Rohit Karnik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, says sapwood is a promising, low-cost, and efficient material for water filtration, particularly for rural communities where more advanced filtration systems are not readily accessible.

“Today’s filtration membranes have nanoscale pores that are not something you can manufacture in a garage very easily,” Karnik says. “The idea here is that we don’t need to fabricate a membrane, because it’s easily available. You can just take a piece of wood and make a filter out of it.”

The paper’s co-authors include Michael Boutilier and Jongho Lee from MIT, Valerie Chambers from Fletcher-Maynard Academy in Cambridge, Mass., and Varsha Venkatesh from Jericho High School in Jericho, N.Y.

Tapping the flow of sap

There are a number of water-purification technologies on the market today, although many come with drawbacks: Systems that rely on chlorine treatment work well at large scales, but are expensive. Boiling water to remove contaminants requires a great deal of fuel to heat the water. Membrane-based filters, while able to remove microbes, are expensive, require a pump, and can become easily clogged.

Sapwood may offer a low-cost, small-scale alternative. The wood is comprised of xylem, porous tissue that conducts sap from a tree’s roots to its crown through a system of vessels and pores. Each vessel wall is pockmarked with tiny pores called pit membranes, through which sap can essentially hopscotch, flowing from one vessel to another as it feeds structures along a tree’s length. The pores also limit cavitation, a process by which air bubbles can grow and spread in xylem, eventually killing a tree. The xylem’s tiny pores can trap bubbles, preventing them from spreading in the wood.

“Plants have had to figure out how to filter out bubbles but allow easy flow of sap,” Karnik observes. “It’s the same problem with  where we want to filter out microbes but maintain a high flow rate. So it’s a nice coincidence that the problems are similar.”

Seeing red

To study sapwood’s water-filtering potential, the researchers collected branches of white pine and stripped off the outer bark. They cut small sections of sapwood measuring about an inch long and half an inch wide, and mounted each in plastic tubing, sealed with epoxy and secured with clamps.

Before experimenting with contaminated water, the group used water mixed with red ink particles ranging from 70 to 500 nanometers in size. After all the liquid passed through, the researchers sliced the sapwood in half lengthwise, and observed that much of the red dye was contained within the very top layers of the wood, while the filtrate, or filtered water, was clear. This experiment showed that sapwood is naturally able to filter out particles bigger than about 70 nanometers.

However, in another experiment, the team found that sapwood was unable to separate out 20-nanometer particles from water, suggesting that there is a limit to the size of particles coniferous sapwood can filter.

Picking the right plant

Finally, the team flowed inactivated, E. coli through the wood filter. When they examined the xylem under a fluorescent microscope, they saw that bacteria had accumulated around pit membranes in the first few millimeters of the wood. Counting the bacterial cells in the filtered water, the researchers found that the sapwood was able to filter out more than 99 percent of E. coli from water.

Karnik says sapwood likely can filter most types of bacteria, the smallest of which measure about 200 nanometers. However, the filter probably cannot trap most viruses, which are much smaller in size.

Karnik says his group now plans to evaluate the filtering potential of other types of sapwood. In general, flowering trees have smaller pores than coniferous trees, suggesting that they may be able to filter out even smaller particles. However, vessels in flowering trees tend to be much longer, which may be less practical for designing a compact .

Designers interested in using sapwood as a filtering material will also have to find ways to keep the wood damp, or to dry it while retaining the xylem function. In other experiments with dried sapwood, Karnik found that water either did not flow through well, or flowed through cracks, but did not filter out contaminants.

“There’s huge variation between plants,” Karnik says. “There could be much better plants out there that are suitable for this process. Ideally, a filter would be a thin slice of wood you could use for a few days, then throw it away and replace at almost no cost. It’s orders of magnitude cheaper than the high-end membranes on the market today.”

Biomarked for Death—Four Blood Proteins Can Predict Early Demise.

  • While you may appear to be healthy, you may be frailer than you know. You may even be at risk of death—from one disease or another—within the next five years. Would you want to know? You may now have the choice, thanks to researchers at the Estonian Genome Center and the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Finland.

    These researchers have developed a screening technology. It looks for four biomarkers that have been associated with a risk of dying from any disease in the near future. Ordinarily, biomarkers are used to assess an individual’s risk of developing a specific condition. The new screening technology, however, is used to reveal general frailty, even in apparently healthy people. It reflects the risk for dying, whatever the ultimate cause—heart disease, cancer, or any other condition.

    Biomarked for Death—Four Blood Proteins Can Predict Early Demise

    The biomarkers identified by the researchers are albumin, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, citrate, and the size of very-low-density lipoprotein particles. Of these, albumin was the only one previously linked with mortality. All these molecules are normally present in everyone’s blood—the amounts of these molecules are what matter. To assess the degree to which an individual’s biomarkers are imbalanced, the researchers found a way to compile a biomarker score.

    The researchers found that individuals with a biomarker score in the top 20% had a risk of dying within five years that was 19 times greater than that of individuals with a score in the bottom 20% (288 versus 15 deaths). In addition, biomarker scores were still predictive of early death—that is, a death within the next five years—independent of well-known risk factors such as age, smoking, drinking, obesity, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

    The researchers detailed their results February 25 in PLOS Medicine, in an article entitled “Biomarker Profiling by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy for the Prediction of All-Cause Mortality: An Observational Study of 17,345 Persons.” To carry out their study, the researchers relied on technology that allowed them to screen blood samples for a wide range of blood biomarkers.

    This technology, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, screened for over 100 potential biomarkers in two cohorts of healthy people. The first cohort, investigated by Estonian members of the research team, consisted of 9,842 people. So astonished by what they found, the Estonian scientists asked their Finnish colleagues to repeat the experiment. The Finnish cohort, consisting of 7,503 people, produced the same result: Just four biomarkers are predictive of cardiovascular mortality, as well as death from cancer and other nonvascular diseases.

    While the researchers emphasized that more studies would be needed before their findings could be implemented in clinical practice, they expressed optimism that their work could alert seemingly healthy people to the need for medical intervention. One of the study’s Finnish authors, Johnannes Kettunen, said, “We believe that in the future these measures can be used to identify people who appear healthy but in fact have serious underlying illnesses and guide them to proper treatment.”

    In discussing their results, the authors of the PLOS Medicine story wrote, “In spite of [this study’s] limitations, the fact that the same four biomarkers are associated with a short-term risk of death from a variety of diseases does suggest that similar underlying mechanisms are taking place. This observation points to some potentially valuable areas of research to understand precisely what’s contributing to the increased risk.”

Monsanto’s Roundup may be linked to fatal kidney disease, new study suggests

A heretofore inexplicable fatal, chronic kidney disease that has affected poor farming regions around the globe may be linked to the use of biochemical giant Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide in areas with hard water, a new study has found.

The new study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Researchers suggest that Roundup, or glyphosate, becomes highly toxic to the kidney once mixed with “hard” water or metals like arsenic and cadmium that often exist naturally in the soil or are added via fertilizer. Hard water contains metals like calcium, magnesium, strontium, and iron, among others. On its own, glyphosate is toxic, but not detrimental enough to eradicate kidney tissue.

The glyphosate molecule was patented as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s. The company soon brought glyphosate to market under the name “Roundup,” which is now the most commonly used herbicide in the world.

The hypothesis helps explain a global rash of the mysterious, fatal Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology (CKDu) that has been found in rice paddy regions of northern Sri Lanka, for example, or in El Salvador, where CKDu is the second leading cause of death among males.

Furthermore, the study’s findings explain many observations associated with the disease, including the linkage between the consumption of hard water and CKDu, as 96 percent of patients have been found to have consumed “hard or very hard water for at least five years, from wells that receive their supply from shallow regolith aquifers.”

The CKDu was discovered in rice paddy farms in northern Sri Lanka around 20 years ago. The condition has spread quickly since then and now affects 15 percent of working age people in the region, or a total of 400,000 patients, the study says. At least 20,000 have died from CKDu there.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health introduced criteria for CKDu. Basically, the Ministry found that CKDu did not share common risk factors as chronic kidney disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and glomerular nephritis, or inflammation of the kidney.

Based on geographical and socioeconomical factors associated with CKDu, it was assumed that environmental and occupational variables would offer clues to the disease’s origins – or in this case, it came from chemicals.

The new study noted that even the World Health Organization had found that CKDu is caused by exposure to arsenic, cadmium, and pesticides, in addition to hard water consumption, low water intake, and exposure to high temperatures. Yet why that certain area of Sri Lanka and why the disease didn’t show prior to the mid-1990s was left unanswered.

Researchers point out that political changes in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s led to the introduction of agrochemicals, especially in rice farming. They believe that 12 to 15 years of exposure to “low concentration kidney-damaging compounds” along with their accumulation in the body led to the appearance of CKDu in the mid-90s.

The incriminating agent, or Compound “X,” must have certain characteristics, researchers deduced. The compound, they hypothesized, must be: made of chemicals newly introduced in the last 20 to 30 years; capable of forming stable complexes with hard water; capable of retaining nephrotoxic metals and delivering them to the kidney; capable of multiple routes of exposure, such as ingestion, through skin or respiratory absorption, among other criteria.

These factors pointed to glyphosate, used in abundance in Sri Lanka. In the study, researchers noted that earlier studies had shown that typical glyphosate half-life of around 47 days in soil can increase up to 22 years after forming hard to biodegrade “strong complexes with metal ions.”

Scientists have derived three ways of exposure to glyphosate-metal complexes (GMCs): consumption of contaminated hard water, food, or the complex could be formed directly within circulation with glyphosate coming from dermal/respiratory route and metals from water and foods.

Rice farmers, for example, are at high risk of exposure to GMCs through skin absorption, inhalation, or tainted drinking water. GMCs seem to evade the normal liver’s detoxification process, thus damaging kidneys, the study found.

The study also suggests that glyphosate could be linked to similar epidemics of kidney disease of unknown origin in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and India.

Recent investigations by the Center for Public Integrity found that, in the last five years, CKDu is responsible for more deaths in El Salvador and Nicaragua than diabetes, AIDS, and leukemia combined.

26 Powerful Lessons to Learn from Nature.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu

I recently had the honor to hear the empowering Gabrielle Bernstein and Kris Carr speak  at the Crazy Sexy Miracles lecture in NYC. The evening was filled with many “AHA moments”  but one thing that stood out, in particular, was Kris Carr’s wise suggestion, “If you struggle with mastering patience, acceptance or any lesson, look to nature as your teacher. Kris said “Ask  how the stars do it? How does the ocean do it? How do the birds do it?”  Therein you will find  an illustration and answer of how you should handle your issue. That struck a strong cord in my  heart because I’ve had many deeply connected moments with nature and animals where time stands still and I feel one with a higher energy, yet I never thought to look to nature for answers.

It’s the moment you see a beautiful cloud formation while driving, taking in the magnitude of colors during a sunset, seeing autumn foliage, watching flocks of birds migrating or deeply looking into the eyes of your pet. I began to ponder what we are suppose to learn and what other messages I missed by our silent teachers. As I began to become present with nature, these are some of the humbling lessons and answers by tuning into nature and animals.

1. Trees

As seasons change, we are guided to learn acceptance and non-resistance. A green leaf doesn’t resist turning red when autumn approaches. Trees don’t resist leaves falling when winter arrives. They stand deeply rooted in the ground, with their vulnerability out in the open and branches spread wide, surrendering to the Universe. Do what you will with me, I trust it is for my highest good.

2. Ocean

The vast ocean can’t exist without each particle of water. Each human being plays its part in humanity. We are all one small part of the greater whole.

3. Birds

Birds soaring through the sky represents the limitless freedom and potential available to us if we release our fears. Taking off to fly for the first time can be scary and bring about feelings of fear. Without taking the risk of the first flight, we won’t find thinternal freedom we desire. We must dare to take our feet off the ground, spread our wings and soar.

4. Pets

Pets teach us more about love than any person or thing. We understand the true nature of unconditional love without expectations. The true nature of forgiveness is forgetting and letting go of grudges. We learn uninhibited, unreserved affection by giving our full attention. Understanding love is a feeling and doesn’t require words. Love is felt in the heart by making eye connection, being in someone’s presence and through physical touch.

5. Ants and Bees

The community of bees and ants all participate together to benefit all those in their community. We each have our own calling that is best performed by us. Each part is necessary for a functioning family, community, nation and world. Embrace your special responsibility, share it proudly with the world, and always do your best.

6. Bamboo and the Maple Tree

Who said that the bamboo is more beautiful than the maple tree and maple tree is more valuable than the bamboo because it gives out maple syrup? Does the bamboo feel jealous of the maple tree because it is bigger and its leaves change color? The idea of trees comparing themselves to others is ridiculous as should humans comparing themselves to one another. We must compare our growth to who we were yesterday not to the growth of another. Everyone is incomparably unique.

7. Flocks of Birds

I’ve never seen two birds run into each other when they are flying in a flock. Why is that if they never talk to each other? True communication doesn’t always need words. Body language, sensing other’s energy and tone can say much more than the actual words we speak. At all times we are communicating through our thoughts and the energy we dispel. Be mindful of your thoughts as the energy behind them affect others and the world.

8. Night Sky

Darkness is necessary to appreciate the light. We need to experience the opposite of what we want so we can appreciate and experience the thing we desire.

9. Sky

No matter what storms are passing, know it is always transient because beyond the clouds, the sky is always blue and the sun is always shining.

10. Rain

Water is required to cleanse negativity in the world and allow a space of clarity. It is through showering and soaking in a tub, where we clear our body from the stagnant, negative energy of yesterday and replenish our positive energy. Shower with the intent of cleansing your body, spirit and mind.

11. Clouds

The sky is the backdrop of our mind. The clouds with different formations, speeds and heights represent the frequency, types and speed of our thoughts. As clouds, our thoughts too shall pass. Glide through your thoughts like birds glides through clouds. Don’t resist the clouds, fly through them.

12. Stars

Stars bring beauty and light in the darkness. Instead of succumbing to the darkness of the world, be one of the radiant stars who shines their bright inner light. As we inspire others to be stars, we can light up the night sky with our intentional beams of star light.

13. Wind

Not all things that exist can be seen or heard. Some things need to be felt. Don’t be limited to your 5 senses. Use your intuition and develop the practice of believing in the things you feel.

14. Sunrise and Sunset

The breathtaking colors of a sunrise and sunset show us that colors vibrate energy and have the power to elicit certain emotions and feelings. Be mindful about the colors you surround yourself with.

15. Animals

Zebras do not look at tigers and wish they could hunt like tigers. Accept yourself as you are, know your weaknesses and strengths and embrace your unique beauty and gifts.

16. Preys

Animals who are prey don’t over analyze and plan in advance the ways they are going to outsmart a predator in the future. When the threat approaches their fight or flight kicks in, when the threat is gone, they go back to grazing without a thought in mind about the predator. Don’t dwell in a space of fear of the future and regret of the past when the threat doesn’t exist. That’s the breeding ground of stress, anxiety and regret.

17. Gardens

Have faith in tomorrow. We plant seeds of hope today, nourish them with love and attention with the faith that our labor will result in fruits in the future. We can’t impatiently force a garden to grow on our terms. A seed will sprout into a plant when the time is right. A fruit will fall from the tree when it is ripe and ready. They grow not because they are forced to, because they let go and allow divine energy and timing to run its course. Be persistent, patient and have trust in divine timing.

18. Natural Disasters

Our earth absorbs the negative energy humans expel as do our bodies. There are times when the earth and our bodies need to recalibrate and dispel the negative energy we absorbed. Mental breakdowns and hitting rock bottom will bring chaos, change and discomfort, but it can be the most positive, life changing event. Sometimes, we need to be brought to our knees to remember what we are grateful for and start on a new life path.

19. Mountains

Stand firm, poised and majestic like a mountain. Regardless of the external situations life will bring you, remain strong like the mountains do when faced with avalanches, rain storms, and water erosion. Your emotional guidance system should be tough like a rooted mountain, immune to the actions and reactions of others.

20. Flowers

We all carry a different fragrance, color and beauty for the world to enjoy. Flowers don’t discriminate who they share their beauty and fragrance with. They share with all friends, strangers and enemies. True compassion and love comes from sharing your beauty with all you meet.

21. Snakes

It’s necessary to shed your own skin and personality to allow an improved and better version of ourselves to emerge

22. Gravity

The Universe has its own sets of laws that are not man made and trumps any rule, law or limiting belief set by man. Figure out the Universal laws and make sure you are working with them and not against them.

23. Flow of Water

As we set sail in our life, we take sail through a calm stream. As our dreams get bigger, we are guided to a river with faster currents and more opportunities. Eventually, for our dreams to be realized, we must end up in the vast ocean. We won’t always have the protection of the river banks as our safety net. To achieve our dreams we have to lose sight of the land and sail into open waters, where there are unlimited possibilities for our dreams to manifest. Anything and everything is possible.

24. Butterflies

Butterflies symbolize our entire life cycle metamorphosis. Life is short and from the moment of birth we are constantly changing our form, inside and out. Don’t resist change. Some of the most beautiful wisdom and changes occur as you grow older and transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Appreciate each phase of your life before you transform to a new cycle.

25. Streams

There is always a natural undercurrent to water. We have the choice to either flow with the current of life or paddle against the stream. We dispel our energy, creativity and time working against the flow of the Universe. Throw your paddles in the water and let your boat take course in the natural direction of the current. You are being guided to go in the direction you are meant to go.

26. Weather

Just like weather forecasts, nothing is certain in life. We can’t control and prepare for everything. On days when there is suppose to be sunshine, the rain may unexpectedly fall. Don’t let your mood be effected by the weather. Looking to nature and animals, we see beauty and wisdom in the simple and ordinary. We easily take this beautiful world and its many messages and lessons for granted. Don’t wait for extraordinary moments to take your breath away, look to nature and bring that beauty into all that you do and every moment of your life. Tending a garden, folding laundry, consoling your child having a tantrum or cooking a meal- all regular tasks take on a sacred quality when we perform them with the total involvement, acceptance and love.

What is one lesson nature has taught you? You can share it with us in the comment section below

7 Ways You’re Annoying Absolutely Everybody.

You know the type… there’s one in every office. Maybe he listens to his music at near concert-level volume. Or she abuses the “CC” button on emails.

But when was the last time you stopped to wonder if you’re the annoying employee in the office?


If you do any of the following things, you, my friend, may be the one your co-workers try hard to avoid:

1. You pass off work.
I’m not talking about delegation here–that’s different. I’m talking about routinely sloughing off tasks to employees that you just don’t want to do. Need someone to pitch in on something while you’re away from the office? Find a way to return the offer so employees know you care about pulling your weight.

2. You insist on tweaking things to perfection–yourself.
If you’re the person who constantly refuses to see eye-to-eye with your team on whether or not a product is finished, expect disgruntled employees. You’re likely wasting time and money trying to reach your own unattainable standard. Why not try to set a new standard? Make 80 percent the new 100 percent. Stop chasing perfection and begin focusing on getting projects and tasks to the point where they’re good enough.

3. You often shout commands.
There’s a big difference between delegating tasks and ordering others around. Establish more pleasant and effective interactions by asking your employees for their input on given situations or projects. This allows them to come up with their own solution, rather than forcing them to simply swallow yours.

4. You’re avoidant.
Are you MIA at company cocktail hour or other staff events? Bad idea. You’re missing out on informal ways to chat up your employees and learn more about their ideas. While being friends with your employees isn’t necessary (or maybe even all that desirable), putting effort into strengthening working relationships almost always pays off.

5. You lack professionalism.
The idea of what is and isn’t casual varies from workplace to workplace, but there are a few behaviors that should be deemed unacceptable across the board. For instance: gossiping, sharing too much personal information, and not using your manners–just to name a few. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t give you license to do any of the above.

6. You enjoy raining on the parade.
Your negativity may be getting in the way of your employees’ happiness. Positivity and optimism aren’t realistic every day, but consistently exuding negativity will bring your colleagues down.

7. You regularly waste time at meetings.
Meetings are the No. 1 productivity killer. You of all be shouldn’t be the person who is constantly straying from the presentation, asking unnecessary questions, and circling back on points. This doesn’t just waste your employees’ time, it also wastes your own. Keep it concise and relevant.

What’s the most annoying office habit you’ve experienced?

Raw cacao beats processed chocolate in its health benefits

The plethora of research done on chocolate’s tremendous health benefits has primarily studied raw cacao and processed dark chocolate. Raw foodies and experts argue that raw cacao contain all of the health inducing benefits left intact, while processing destroys much of the nutrients. Raw cacao also stars as a superfood with higher antioxidant counts compared to processed cocoa.


Summary of cocoa research

Tremendous research has been done on cacao health benefits. Study findings confirm that cocoa benefits cardiovascular health, blood pressure, atherosclerosis, mood and aging. Cocoa contains several important nutrients including vitamins A, C, and E, along with magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and zinc. It has been discovered that raw cocoa has more antioxidants than any other food, including acai berries and blueberries. Chocolate’s healthful phenolic compounds have also made cocoa an important food for study.

An analysis of some cardiovascular research states the following: “It is important to strictly differentiate between the natural product cacao and the processed product chocolate, which refers to the combination of cocoa, sugar, and eventually milk and other ingredients into a solid food product. Many of the health effects of cocoa and its contents discussed here may not be applicable to chocolate”. The study review later states: “An important thing is that, during the conventional chocolate manufacturing process from fresh cocoa seeds to the final product, the concentration of flavanols markedly decreases. In particular, food processing methods such as fermentation and roasting have a detrimental impact on the final flavanol content of foods. Furthermore, flavanol concentration may depend on the agricultural origin of the raw cocoa. In particular, milk chocolate has the lowest flavanol content compared with cocoa powder and dark chocolate”. Flavanols are a type of phenolic compound found to be beneficial to health and the subject of tremendous study.

Raw versus processed cocoa

Raw food enthusiasts and experts agree that the high heat processing, required to create the roasted cocoa used for most chocolate products, destroys the majority of cocoa’s nutrients. This argument is comparable to the one made for the tremendous health benefits of raw whole milk compared to denatured, pasteurized milk. David Wolfe, a raw foods expert, claims raw cacao to be “the richest antioxidant food in the world”. Comparisons of antioxidant value numbers for raw cacao powder far exceed those for processed or roasted cocoa powder.

Historically, fermented cocoa drinks were enjoyed for centuries and treasured for their tremendoushealth benefits. Raw cacao is subjected to some very low heating in its fermentation process, required to separate the seeds from the cocoa bean. The heat used is generally at much lower temperatures than that used for typical chocolate products which are roasted. Raw cacao is then cold pressed, a process which leaves the majority of its nutrients intact.

Recipes and easy uses for raw cacao

The internet has many recipes available for using raw cacao. Organic raw cacao powder can easily be added to smoothies and used in other delectable concoctions, left only to one’s imagination. Organic raw cacao can be ordered online or found in health food stores.

One easy, delicious and healthy recipe my daughter and I created recently is the following: Mix raw cacao powder with nut butter, virgin coconut oil and a small amount of raw honey to taste. Form into a ball and store in fridge or eat immediately as we did.

Why organic, dark chocolate is second best

While raw cacao wins the prize for healthy chocolate, organic, dark chocolate earns the silver medal. Research supports dark chocolate’s health benefits. Higher cocoa content chocolate will be healthier.

Sources for this article include:

Wi-fi computer virus goes ‘airborne’ like common cold.

Researchers in Britain have shown for the first time how a computer virus can spread through Wi-Fi “as efficiently as the common cold spreads between humans.” The ‘Chameleon’ Wi-Fi AP-AP virus infiltrates dense networks and spreads at an alarming rate.

Reuters / Keith Bedford

Chameleon was designed by a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool, and displayed a ‘remarkable amount of intelligence’ in its capacity to spread in a similar way to the common cold.

The virus “was able to avoid detection and identify the points at which Wi-Fi access is least protected by encryption and passwords,” according to a release published on the university’s website. The areas which are generally ‘least protected’ are public access points – such as free Wi-Fi in cafes and airports.

Network Security Professor, Alan Marshall, stated that the virus doesn’t attempt to damage existing networks but instead infiltrates the data of all users connected to a network via Wi-Fi .

“WiFi connections are increasingly a target for computer hackers because of well-documented security vulnerabilities, which make it difficult to detect and defend against a virus,” said Marshall.

“It was assumed, however, that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus that could attack Wi-Fi networks but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly. We are now able to use the data generated from this study to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely,” he added.

Chameleon’s success lies in the means by which it avoids detection – the majority of anti-virus software packages looks for infections which are present on computers and the Internet, rather than publicly-used Wi-Fi networks.

“When Chameleon attacked an AP (access point) it didn’t affect how it worked, but was able to collect and report the credentials of all other Wi-Fi users who connected to it. The virus then sought out other Wi-Fi APs that it could connect to and infect,” Marshall said. That the virus doesn’t disrupt the network itself, but instead those connecting to it, makes it all the more subversive and dangerous.

The virus was found to travel the most quickly between access points which were within a distance of 160 feet, prompting the ‘common cold’ comparison.

“As demand drives up the availability and use of WiFi, the geographical area that an attack can exploit increases exponentially,” the study noted.

There are plans in place to examine the data generated by the study “to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely,” according to Marshall.

Smoking cannabis CAN kill you: German researchers identify two men who died purely as a result of using the drug.

  • It was known cannabis could kill when used alongside other drugs
  • But, scientists didn’t know if cannabis use alone could be fatal
  • They carried out post mortem examinations on people who died after using it
  • They found two people whose deaths couldn’t be attributed to anything else
  • Both died shortly after using the drug when their hearts started beating either too fast or too slowly – neither had a history of heart problems

It is possible to die as a direct result of smoking cannabis, new research shows.

German scientists have identified two people who died purely as a result of smoking the drug.

It was previously known that using marijuana could be fatal if it was used in conjunction with other drugs – such as by triggering heart conditions or by causing cancer.

Smoking cannabis alone can be fatal as it can cause heart problems, German researchers have discovered

Smoking cannabis alone can be fatal as it can cause heart problems, German researchers have discovered

However, whether the drug could kill unaided had remained unclear, New Scientist reports.

Now, scientists at the University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany have carried out the first full post mortem examinations on people who have died after using the drug.

The team, led by Dr Benno Hartung, carried out 15 examinations.

They performed tests including toxicology tests and genetic tests to rule out any other causes of death.

They discovered that the deaths of two of the patients could not be put down to anything other than marijuana use.

Both of these people were men who had died after their hearts started beating either too fast or too slowly.

The researchers believe that this change in heart rhythm – called arrhythmia – was caused by cannabis.

The reason they came to this conclusion was that both had smoked the drug within a few hours of their death and neither had any history of heart problems.

The researchers found two men who had died shortly after smoking cannabis. Neither had any history of heart problems and both died when their hearts started beating either too fast or too slowly

The researchers found two men who had died shortly after smoking cannabis. Neither had any history of heart problems and both died when their hearts started beating either too fast or too slowly

While the German researchers now believe they have proved that cannabis can kill, it remains unclear how it can trigger heart problems.

Dr Hartung believes cannabis could trigger diseases that increase the risk of heart conditions.

Despite the findings, some people believe the risk of death is not the most significant risk associated with use of the drug.

David Raynes from the UK National Drug Prevention Alliance told New Scientist: ‘These deaths are rare and will remain rare. The real risks are from long-term effects on the young brain.’

His comment is based on the fact that previous studies have shown a link between smoking cannabis and schizophrenia and depression.

Vegetarian Diet lowers blood pressure.

Nearly a third of American adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Often called the “silent killer” because it provides few warning signs, hypertension increases a patient’s risk for heart attack and stroke.

New research suggests eating a vegetarian diet could help combat this deadly disease.

A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG. Previous studies have shown that each increase of 20/10 mm Hg in that number doubles the patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. But lowering that top number just 5 mm HG can reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 7%. And eating more fruits and vegetables may be a good way to do that, according to the new study, published Monday in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Vegetarian diet may lower your blood pressure

Terms to know

Systolic blood pressure – the top number on your BP reading – measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts, or beats.

Diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number on your BP reading – measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is still and refilling with blood.

The study

Researchers analyzed data from seven previously published clinical trials and 32 observational studies. A total of 311 participants were involved in the clinical trials. More than 21,000 participants were assessed in the observational studies.

The researchers only used data from studies that examined the association between a vegetarian diet and blood pressure. A range of diets were studied, including semivegetarian, veganlacto-vegetarianovo-vegetarian and pesco-vegetarian.

The results

In the seven clinical trials, participants following a vegetarian diet had a systolic blood pressure that was 4.8 mm Hg lower on average than their omnivore counterparts’. The vegetarians’ diastolic blood pressure was lower by an average of 2.2 mm Hg.

In the observational studies, the difference was slightly bigger. A vegetarian diet was associated with an average decrease of 6.9 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and 4.7 mm HG for diastolic blood pressure.


Many factors could be affecting the vegetarians’ blood pressure. Vegetarian diets are often lower in sodium and saturated fats, while being higher in fiber and potassium.

Vegetarians also tend to have lower body mass indexes because fruits and vegetables are less energy dense – meaning you can eat more of them for fewer calories.

Study limitations

The definition of a “vegetarian diet” differs from person to person, so the researchers can’t tell you how much meat is too much. Some of the observational studies also did not adjust for lifestyle factors such as exercise or alcohol intake that could have affected the results.

Two of the researchers are affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which advocates for plant-based diets.


Eating more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet could help lower your blood pressure, says study author Dr. Neal Barnard. You should also try to limit your sodium intake, exercise regularly and avoid drinking alcohol excessively.

It is possible to die of a broken heart, say scientists

The grief of losing a loved one doubles the risk of a heart attack, according to a British-based study

From Shakespeare to Twilight, the devastating effects of a broken heart pervade popular culture – and scientists have said that you really can die from the trauma of losing a loved one.

Grief doubles the risk of suffering a heart attack, and has the same effect on the chances of suffering a stroke, a study has found.

Scientists at St George’s, University of London, looked at GP data on thousands of individuals aged 60 and over in the UK, some of whom had recently lost partners.

They found that 16 per 1,000 patients suffered a heart attack or stroke within 30 days of a partner’s death – double the rate for those whose loved ones remained alive.

The heightened risk among bereaved men and women starts to fall after 30 days, according to findings published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Lead researcher Dr Sunil Shah said: “We often use the term a ‘broken heart’ to signify the pain of losing a loved one and our study shows that bereavement can have a direct effect on the health of the heart.”

He added: “There is evidence, from other studies, that bereavement and grief lead to a range of adverse responses including changes in blood clotting, blood pressure, stress hormone levels and heart rate control.

“All these will contribute to an increased risk of events such as heart attacks and stroke after loss of a partner.

“In addition, we have found, in another study, that in the first few months after bereavement, individuals may not consistently take their regular preventive medication, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or aspirin.

“Sudden short-term interruption of such regular medication may also contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular events.

“We think it is important that doctors, friends and family are aware of this increase risk of heart attacks and strokes so they can ensure care and support is as good as possible at a time of increased vulnerability before and after loss of a loved one.”

Co-author Dr Iain Carey said: “We have seen a marked increase in heart attack or stroke risk in the month after a person’s partner dies which seems likely to be the result of adverse physiological responses associated with acute grief.

“A better understanding of psychological and social factors associated with acute cardiovascular events may provide opportunities for prevention and improved clinical care.”

Bereavement has long been known to be a risk factor for death.

In 2005, US researchers at John Hopkins University discovered that sudden emotional stress can trigger severe but reversible heart failure, which mimics a regular heart attack. The condition was termed “broken heart” syndrome.