Kepler bags huge haul of planets.

Four of the planets orbit their host suns in a “habitable zone” where water can keep a liquid state

The science team sifting data from the US space agency’s (Nasa) Kepler telescope says it has identified 715 new planets beyond our Solar System.

This is a huge new haul.

In the nearly two decades since the first so-called exoplanet was discovered, researchers had claimed the detection of just over 1,000 new worlds.

Kepler’s latest bounty are all in multi-planet systems; they orbit only 305 stars.

The vast majority, 95%, are smaller than our Neptune, which is four times the radius of the Earth.

Four of the new planets are less than 2.5 times the radius of Earth, and they orbit their host suns in the “habitable zone” – the region around a star where water can keep a liquid state.

Whether that is the case on these planets cannot be known for sure – Kepler’s targets are hundreds of light-years in the distance, and this is too far away for very detailed investigation.

The Kepler space telescope was launched in 2009 on a $600m (£360m) mission to assess the likely population of Earth-sized planets in our Milky Way Galaxy.

Faulty pointing mechanisms eventually blunted its abilities last year, but not before it had identified thousands of possible, or “candidate”, worlds in a patch of sky in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

It did this by looking for transits – the periodic dips in light that occur when planets move across the faces of stars.

Kepler space telescope mission

An illustration of Kepler

Before Wednesday, the Kepler spacecraft had confirmed the existence of 246 exoplanets. It has now pushed this number up to 961. That is more than half of all the discoveries made in the field over the past 20 years.

“This is the largest windfall of planets that’s ever been announced at one time,” said Douglas Hudgins from Nasa’s astrophysics division.

“Second, these results establish that planetary systems with multiple planets around one star, like our own Solar System, are in fact common.

“Third, we know that small planets – planets ranging from the size of Neptune down to the size of the Earth – make up the majority of planets in our galaxy.”

When Kepler first started its work, the number of confirmed planets came at a trickle.

Scientists had to be sure that the variations in brightness being observed were indeed caused by transiting planets and not by a couple of stars orbiting and eclipsing each other.

The follow-up work required to make this distinction – between candidate and confirmation – was laborious.

But the sudden dump of new planets announced on Wednesday has exploited a new statistical approach referred to as “verification by multiplicity”.

This rests on the recognition that if a star displays multiple dips in light, it must be planets that are responsible because it is very difficult for several stars to orbit each other in a similar way and maintain a stable configuration.

“This technique that we’ve introduced for wholesale planet validation will be productive in the future. These results are based on the first two years of Kepler observations and with each additional year, we’ll be able to bring in a few hundred more planets,” explained Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at Nasa’s Ames Research Center.

Sara Seager is a professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is not involved in the Kepler mission.

She commented: “With hundreds of new validated planets, Kepler reinforces its major finding that small planets are extremely common in our galaxy. And I’m super-excited about this, being one of the people working on the next generation of space telescopes – we hope to put up direct imaging missions, and we need to be reassured that small planets are common.”

Detailed information on the latest discoveries has been posted intwopapers on the electronic pre-print arXiv repository.

The habitable zone is the region around a star where water can keep a liquid state

An Australian hero’s story of survival.

The Aurora
Mawson’s ship, the Aurora

One hundred years ago this week, Australia’s foremost polar explorer, Douglas Mawson, returned home after two years of triumph and terror in East Antarctica.

At the end of February 1914, Douglas Mawson sailed into the port of Adelaide to a hero’s welcome. His final sentence in The Home of the Blizzard, his own account of his adventures, conveys a feeling of overwhelming emotion at his reception: “The voices of innumerable strangers – the handgrips of many friends – It chokes one…”

The intensity of feeling may have been coloured by regret and guilt, welling from memories of the deaths of his two friends and his own near demise, on a disastrous trekking expedition one year earlier.

Douglas Mawson is one of the less celebrated figures of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. Yet his story is as gripping as the exploits of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, even though he didn’t seek the glory of being the first to reach the Geographic South Pole.

His Australasian Antarctic Expedition arrived at the frozen continent towards the end of 1911, when Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen were racing to the planet’s most southerly point.

Scott had in fact asked Mawson to join his ill-fated Terra Nova expedition. The Australian had won his Antarctic spurs as a geologist with Scott’s rival, Ernest Shackleton, between 1908 and 1909. Mawson was in the three-man party which was the first to reach the Earth’s Magnetic South Pole (although some suggest they did not quite make it to the exact spot). Mawson impressed both British expedition leaders.

Douglas Mawson circa 1930
Douglas Mawson on a later trip, about 1930

The young geologist declined the place in Scott’s team. Not even out of his twenties, Mawson had decided he wanted to lead an expedition of his own, dedicated to scientific discovery and exploration.

His plan was to explore a tract of Antarctic coast and its hinterland which lay south of Australia, on the far side of the fearsome Southern Ocean. To get there, Mawson had first to launch a fundraising crusade.

Antarctic historians often note Douglas Mawson’s drive and determination. That no doubt helped him to amass the equivalent today of about £10m ($16.7m) in little more than one year. Part of the money came from the Australian and British governments. Mawson also tapped businessmen with interests in mining and whaling. The exploration of Antarctica was never, and will never be, unsullied by commercial and geopolitical concerns.

Part of the coastline Mawson explored had been scouted in 1840 by the French explorer Dumont D’Urville. But no-one had set foot there before Mawson’s expedition.

Landing was difficult because most of the coast was formed of high ice cliffs. Only after many weeks did the expedition come to Commonwealth Bay and spot a small rocky section of shoreline with a natural harbour. Mawson established his wood-built headquarters here and named the site Cape Denison.

After dinner at base camp
Conditions at the expedition’s base were cramped and basic

The meteorological station recorded an annual average wind speed of 80km/h. This made work and life in general for the men of the expedition extremely uncomfortable and dangerous, particularly during the winter.

Mawson described a typical foray outside the hut in a mid-winter blizzard: “A plunge into the writhing storm-whirl stamps upon the senses an indelible and awful impression seldom equalled in the whole gamut of natural experience. The world a void: grisly, fierce and appalling. We stumble and struggle through the Stygian gloom; the merciless blast – an incubus of vengeance – stabs, buffets and freezes; the stinging drift blinds and chokes.”

Mawson and six others were detained here, in what the Guinness Book of Records describes as the windiest place on earth, for a whole year longer than planned.

This was the consequence of a series of disasters during a trekking expedition which set off from Cape Denison on 10 November 1912.

The 32-year-old Mawson left with two younger companions – Xavier Mertz, a Swiss mountaineer and ski champion, and Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis, a 23-year-old British army officer. With 12 dogs and two sledges, the party headed to the far east of Cape Denison.

Dogs pull a sled ridden by Xavier Mertz
Dogs pull a sled ridden by Xavier Mertz
Last shot of the Far-Eastern sledging party
The last photograph of Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis together

The aim was to explore and map the coastal hinterland – if possible, as far as the neighbouring sector where Scott’s expedition had been. Battling through frequent blizzards and crossing two large and dangerous glaciers (subsequently named Mertz and Ninnis), the three men reached a point more than 500km from their base at Cape Denison.

Xavier Mertz clears snow at base camp
Xavier Mertz clears snow at base camp

Mawson’s diary reveals that their initially high spirits – particularly those of Ninnis – began to slump after several weeks of intense exertion and hardship on the East Antarctica plateau.

Then a series of catastrophes ensued, beginning on 14 December.

As the team crossed an ice field, riven with crevasses concealed by snow, Ninnis and the six strongest dogs fell to their deaths into a chasm hundreds of feet deep. Most of the human food, all of the dog food and the main tent went with them.

The accident left Mawson and Mertz with 10 days’ food supply for a journey back to base that would take at least a month.

As they retreated, Mawson severely rationed the remaining food. They also started to kill the dogs- eating the “best” bits themselves and feeding the rest to the remaining dogs.

The best bits included the liver. But unbeknown to them, this apparently nutritious addition to their meagre diet in fact put them in greater peril. Both of them began to sicken.

On 30 December, Mawson wrote: “Xavier off colour. We did 15 miles, halting at about 9 am. He turned in – all his things very wet. The continuous drift does not give one a chance to dry a thing, and our gear is deplorable. Tent has dripped terribly, all caked with ice.”

A blizzard at Cape Dennison

As the days passed, their skin started to fall off. They suffered terrible stomach pains and diarrhoea – symptoms of an excess intake of vitamin A. Dog livers contain high levels of the nutrient and too much of it is toxic to the human body. For some reason, Mertz suffered the worst and the one-time Olympic skier was soon reduced to a demented sliver of his former self.

Mertz’s suffering reached its climax on 7 January. Mawson described the event in his journal: “During the afternoon he has several fits and is delirious, fills his trousers again and I clean out for him. He is very weak, becomes more and more delirious, rarely being able to speak coherently. At 8 pm he raves and breaks a tent pole. I hold him down, then he becomes more peaceful and I put him quietly in the bag. He dies peacefully at about 2 am on the morning of the 8th. He had lost all the skin of his legs and private parts. I am in same condition and sore on finger won’t heal.”

Mawson had another 160km to slog across to reach the safety of his base on the coast. And he had a deadline – 15 January. That was the date by which all the sledging parties had to return for the imminent departure of the expedition’s ship, the Aurora, for Australia. The ship would not be able to return for at least eight months, after the next Antarctic winter.

An expedition member with an "ice mask"
An unidentified expedition member with an “ice mask”

But if it had seemed his situation could not get any worse, he then fell into a crevasse himself. His sledge caught on the edge of the opening and he was left dangling on a harness. One attempt to haul himself out failed just as he reached the crevasse lip, and he fell metres deeper into the abyss.

In The Home of the Blizzard, Mawson wrote: “Below was a black chasm. Exhausted, weak and chilled (for my hands were bare and pounds of snow had got inside my clothing) I hung with the firm conviction that all was over except the passing. It would be but the work of a moment to slip from the harness, then all the pain and toil would be over.”

Douglas Mawson on return of sledging party
An exhausted-looking Douglas Mawson on his return from the ill-fated far east sledging trip

Somehow he managed to summon the strength from his starved body for another bid to pull himself up and out.

And this was only the first of several crevasses into which he fell.

The psychological trauma of Mawson’s ordeals after the death of Mertz cannot be under-estimated, says Mark Pharoah, curator of the Mawson Collection at the South Australia Museum in Adelaide.

“He had to erect the tent each evening by himself, which could be very hard in a blizzard. [He had to] navigate and just try to keep a handle on his own anxieties about missing the boat, about the next crevasse. It was a very disturbing time in Mawson’s life.”

His one eventual stroke of luck was to come across a stash of food and a note left by a search party. The message had been left the previous day and told Mawson that he was now only about 40km from the base at Cape. But slowed down by raging blizzards and his ravaged physical state, he reached the final approach to the base only to see his ship, the Aurora, far out to sea on 8 February.

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The route of the far-eastern sledging party

Map of King George Land
  • 10 Nov 1912: Mawson, Ninnis and Mertz set off on their expedition to map the far east of King George V Land.
  • 14 Dec: Ninnis, the six best dogs, almost all of the food and the bulk of their most important equipment – including their tent – are lost down a crevasse 11ft wide and 150ft deep. Mawson and Mertz decide to return to the hut as directly as possible.
  • 15 Dec: Mertz and Mawson eat dog meat for the first time.
  • 28 Dec: Their last remaining dog, Ginger, collapses and is killed. The men will now have to get back under their own steam.
  • 8 Jan 1913: At 2am, Mawson wakes to find Mertz has died. “Now so weak and starved there seemed little chance of my getting back,” Mawson writes.
  • 8 Feb: Approaching the base, Mawson sees a ship’s smoke on the horizon. This was Aurora leaving. It would not be able to return for another 12 months.

Source: Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14. Scientific reports, Series A Vol 1. Part 1 by Douglas Mawson.

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He was not alone though. A party of six men were waiting for him at the base. Using the wireless telegraph, they tried to recall the ship but the weather was so bad it could not return to shore. Mawson had to remain for another year and endure a second ferocious winter in the land of the blizzard.

On 23 March, he wrote: “I find my nerves in a very serious state, and from the feeling I have in the base of my head I have suspicion that I may go off my rocker very soon. My nerves have evidently had a very great shock.”

Despite his ordeal, the additional year helped to ensure that the Australasian Antarctic Expedition was a scientific and technical success. Another winter gave them the opportunity to better study the electro-atmospheric phenomenon of the Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights. When the summer came, the remaining team were able to map the further reaches of this new part of the British empire, and survey and sample its wildlife and geology. Mawson’s team discovered the first meteorites in Antarctica.

The second year also gave them the time to make the wireless equipment they had brought with them in 1911 work at long range. Mawson’s expedition was the first to connect Antarctica to the outside world by radio.

On his return, Douglas Mawson took his place as a great figure in the Heroic Age of Antarctica Exploration. In 1984, 70 years on, his face appeared on the 100 Australian dollar bank note. His stock as a great explorer remained high as the reputation of Robert Falcon Scott as an expeditionary leader fell.

On board the Aurora (undated)
Mawson (standing, centre) and colleagues on board the Aurora

However, the subsequent publication of Mawson’s Antarctic journals and access to the diaries of other Australasian Antarctic Expedition members have made some historians revise the glowing assessments of his exploratory and leadership qualities.

Even in the early days, some had questioned the way Mawson had commanded the disastrous far eastern sledging trek. Was it a sensible decision to put so much of their vital provisions on one sledge – the one which then disappeared with Ninnis into the crevasse?

The newer information has led to further criticism. A century after Mawson’s return from the land of the blizzard, Mark Pharoah says the view now is of “a Mawson who wasn’t so capable of navigating, a Mawson who took great risks at times in his drive to go the farthest of all the sledging parties, and a Mawson who, in the second year particularly, struggles to keep any leadership of the volunteer party which has stayed behind. And one has to wonder how he lived with the responsibility of two men dying under his command.”

In December last year, I arrived in Commonwealth Bay with members of an expeditionary team aiming to follow in Mawson’s footsteps. In most ways, our experience was entirely different.

For one thing, barely a breeze blew for almost a week. It was only on the intended final day close to the East Antarctic shore that we received a true taste of the land of the blizzard. Fierce winds began to blow from the south-east, mobilising a break-out of thousands of square kilometres of thick sea ice. Logistical cock-ups delayed our vessel’s retreat from the area. Enquiries are now under way to establish whether they contributed to us becoming surrounded and trapped by the ice.

We were then periodically lashed by blizzards for 10 days. On 2 January we were rescued, thanks to the combined efforts of a Australian ice-breaker and a helicopter team from a Chinese ice-breaker, which itself became trapped trying to reach us. In total we were stuck in Antarctica for about two-and-a-half weeks longer than we had bargained. It was a minor delay – a faint echo of what happened to Mawson and his six companions.

Spirulina – the ultimate ocean protein

Is spirulina the best protein on Earth? Honestly, if a health ‘expert’ tells you that one protein source is better for you than another – be careful. In reality, we all absorb nutrients in a variety of ways due to personal health history, age, food combining, heavy metal toxicity, genetics – the list goes on and on.


Are you protein deficient? On the next NaturalNews Talk Hour, Jonathan Landsman and Dr. Gerald Cyweski, a top expert on large-scale microalgae production talk about one of the most popular superfoods on the planet – spirulina. We’ll discuss the safety concerns surrounding spriulina – especially since the Fukushima nuclear accident; why all brands are not created equal plus much more.

Visit: and enter your email address for show details + FREE gifts!

Should everyone be consuming spirulina?

First of all, as a long-time vegetarian, I must admit it’s easy to become protein (or nutrient) deficient on any diet, including the widely-celebrated vegan way of life. Too many vegetarians opt for ‘fake meat’ products – loaded with genetically engineered or heavily processed soy ingredients. These synthetic proteins create hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders plus a host of immune system problems.

Generally speaking, chronic fatigue, emotional stress or any other chronic health condition can be linked to a poor diet. When considering which protein is best for you – always consider the quality first. If you prefer an animal-based protein diet – be sure to eat 100% grass-fed beef or raw (grass-fed) dairy products to avoid the genetically engineered toxins fed to conventionally-raised animals.

Keep in mind, conventionally-raised animal food producers don’t want you to know how their animals are fed. In truth, most of these animals are eating GMOs, getting pumped with antibiotics and fed the lowest-cost (unnatural) animal feed.

Conversely, many vegetarians eat too many processed carbohydrates, synthetic vitamins and minerals and foreign proteins – which leave the body nutrient deprived. Low-quality protein intake can lead to cellular stress; low sex drive; poor brain function, eye health and cardiovascular disease.

If you’re looking for a good source of protein – just 3 grams of high-quality spirulina provides 60% protein, lots of vitamins and minerals plus many phytonutrients for optimal health. On the next NaturalNews Talk Hour, we’ll talk about the best source of spirulina on the market today.

Visit: and enter your email address for show details + FREE gifts!

How does spirulina reverse disease conditions?

Spirulina, known as a cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, are found in pristine freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers. This truly ‘super’ food offers health benefits to almost every organ and bodily function. If you’re looking for cellular regeneration, accelerated wound repair or faster healing time – spirulina can help. By enriching the immune system, you’re less likely to experience colds, flus or other infectious diseases.

In this computer age, many people are looking to improve their eye health. Rich in antioxidants, spirulina is 10 times richer than carrots (per gram) in vitamin A – especially good for nourishing the eyes. Today, we view inflammation as an underlying stress in every disease – spirulina happens to be one of the most potent anti-inflammatory agents found in nature. And, finally, a strong digestive system will help to detoxify the body. Find out how spirulina helps to heal leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases.

This week’s guest: Dr. Gerald Cyweski, the world’s leading authority on microalgae production

Learn how high-quality protein diets can improve your energy and immunity – Sun. Mar. 2

Dr. Gerald Cysewski received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. As co-founder of Nutrex-Hawaii, Dr. Cysewski has served as a director of the company since 1983 and, until 1996, also served as the Scientific Director. From early 1990 to May 2008, Dr. Cysewski served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company and – in October 1990 – was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Board.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Cysewski was a group leader of Microalgae Research and Development at Battelle Northwest, a major contract research and development firm and, before that, was an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara – where he received a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a culture system for blue-green algae.

Studies show many health benefits from eating fermented foods.

Although the human body is made up of 10 times as many bacteria as human cells, mainstream medicine and an unsuspecting public continue to kill off the bacteria that make up their body indiscriminately through the use of antibiotics and antibacterial products. Meanwhile, studies show that many of the health issues being faced by our modern society are being created by damage caused to our internal flora. At the same time other studies along with human experience are showing the health benefits that come from undoing that damage through the consumption of fermented foods.


The human body is made up of an estimated 10 trillion human cells and 100 trillion bacteria which means we are actually more a collection of bacteria than we are human. However many products commonly used today for cleaning and personal hygiene (antibacterial hand sanitizers for example), as well as antibiotics and chemical laden junk foods are damaging the bacteria that keep us healthy and make us what we are.

Prior to the paranoia over bacteria and the implementation of pasteurization, all traditional cultures not only survived despite bacteria, they actually thrived by making use of bacteria (albeit unknowingly) to create healthy, fermented foods. These fermented foods not only allowed traditional cultures without refrigeration to store foods for the times when food was not plentiful, but they helped keep them strong and healthy by keeping their internal flora balanced and therefore their immune systems strong.

Fermented foods are key to good gut flora

Today there is a resurgence of interest in fermented foods. It is a craze that is growing among those looking for healthier diet options and recent studies back up what those fermented food fans know through experience: fermented food is healthy food! Studies have shown that regular consumption offermented foods can not only correct digestive problems, but also have positive effects on heart disease, arthritis, obesity, gum disease, mood and more.

Although many associate fermented foods simply with dairy products such as yogurt, kefir and cheese, there is much to learn because the variety of foods that can be fermented is endless. From the more traditional German sauerkraut, Vietnamese kimchi and sourdough breads, to more unusual mixtures such as fermented beetroot with garlic and cheeses made from nuts, there are unlimited ways to add these simple, healthy foods to our diets.

Sources for this article include

Human omental and subcutaneous adipose tissue exhibit specific lipidomic signatures.

Despite their differential effects on human metabolic pathophysiology, the differences in omental and subcutaneous lipidomes are largely unknown. To explore this field, liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry was used for lipidome analyses of adipose tissue samples (visceral and subcutaneous) selected from a group of obese subjects (n=38). Transcriptomics and in vitrostudies in adipocytes were used to confirm the pathways affected by location. The analyses revealed the existence of obesity-related specific lipidome signatures in each of these locations, attributed to selective enrichment of specific triglycerides, glycerophospholipids, and sphingolipids, because these were not observed in adipose tissues from nonobese individuals. The changes were compatible with subcutaneous enrichment in pathways involved in adipogenesis, triacylglyceride synthesis, and lipid droplet formation, as well as increased α-oxidation. Marked differences between omental and subcutaneous depots in obese individuals were seen in the association of lipid species with metabolic traits (body mass index and insulin sensitivity). Targeted studies also revealed increased cholesterol (Δ56%) and cholesterol epoxide (Δ34%) concentrations in omental adipose tissue. In view of the effects of cholesterol epoxide, which induced enhanced expression of adipocyte differentiation and α-oxidation genes in human omental adipocytes, a novel role for cholesterol epoxide as a signaling molecule for differentiation is proposed. In summary, in obesity, adipose tissue exhibits a location-specific differential lipid profile that may contribute to explaining part of its distinct pathogenic role.

5 Things Highly Successful People Do Differently.

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ ” ~ Brian Tracy

I’ve interviewed lots of people – highly successful people, about their ingredients for real life career bliss. They are people that feel compelled to do what they do for work, treat their life as experiments, make money enough to support the life they want, that also have genuine smiles and beautiful laughter. Not to mention loving relationships and time to spend on the things that matter to them.

5 Things Highly Successful People Do Differently

Want to learn from them? (I hope so.)

Pulling from those interviews, here are five themes, enlightened bites and footnotes that you can take into your own life to make career bliss your reality:

1. The significance of (an)other

Everyone interviewed, without fail, revealed very candidly how their success was directly related or attributed greatly, in large part or whole, to the person that holds the title of significant other, partner, wife, husband, spouse. This person is a champion of their being, a believer and schemer in their aspirations, and co-creator in life’s journey. And these interviewees were glad to return that love and support any way they could.

I admit it was reassuring to hear (for an eternal romantic like me) that romance is part of the equation for a fulfilling career. You wouldn’t expect it, but it’s true. The secret wasn’t good grades in school after all.

2. Ideas are experiments in life’s lab

Whether you are a “popcorn machine” of ideas or just have one (at a time), these folks act, innovate and expand upon their ideas. They learned not to take the failure or the success of their ideas personally either – and have experienced both success and failure as extremely valuable in becoming who they are today.

They allow their ideas to communicate with life and listen for the tell-tale signals of when it’s time to keep going and when it’s time to let go.

3. Focus and devotion to your thing

When other people are trying to do everything for everyone and be everything to everybody, these folks don’t do that. Not because they don’t care about others, but because they are aware of who they can and cannot really help and who can and cannot really accept their help. So they simply honor that.

4. Artists and business people living in harmony

For the record, these aren’t job titles – these are roles, archetypes, skills and ways of being and seeing the world housed in a single body. Highly successful people who have found career bliss aren’t afraid of these two roles as they merge them in a healthy marriage to experience a most desirable career.

If the relationship between these two sides of you isn’t developed, you end up being either a “starving artist” or a “hostage to golden handcuffs” (money).

Freedom and security are the two wings that make a bird fly. Two wings of freedom and it’s painful to live with unrealistic expectations without a sense of reality. Two wings of security and nothing feels satisfying when you’re cut off from your essence – literally grounded. But together, the pairing can absolutely create career bliss. And all of the people I interviewed thrive because these parts of them get along exceptionally.

5. Enough-ness + authenticity = experts with expertise.

My interviewees realized, at some point, that they knew something that others wanted from them. Most importantly they paid attention to what that was because it felt useful and happy to do so. And so they started to give just that. Rather than worrying and wondering about if they knew enough to give enough. They just started. And trusted.

Their self-esteem was healthy enough to say: “What I don’t know I’m willing to learn.” And because they feel like enough – which is the secret to being enough – they don’t talk about things they don’t actually know. Nor do they pretend to care about things that they don’t really care about. Nor do they do things that they aren’t exceptional at. They get help when they need it and are the help for others that need them.

6 ways to use public Wi-Fi hot spots safely.

Free Wi-Fi hot spots at places like Starbucks are convenient, but you may be putting you and your computer at risk.

Places like Starbucks, neighborhood cafes, Barnes&Noble, and universities are all jumping on the “free Wi-Fi” bandwagon–hey, it’s trendy. As a result, more of us are connecting to these networks without realizing the security risks.

But did you read the fine print? Wi-Fi hot spots are unsecured networks that hackers like to take advantage of. Everything–including your data, account information and passwords, Google searches, and finances–can become available to the hacker who wants it badly enough.

So before you pay your bills or write your genius business plan at the local cafe, get to know these six useful practices:


    1. Be aware that you’re never secure. Wi-Fi hot spots are always unsecured connections, so you and potential hackers are hanging out in the same network bubble. It’s not difficult for one to tap into your activity and sniff out your personal information. So, even if a hot spot requires a password or guides you through a log-in screen, you’re still at risk.
    2. Harness built-in security tools. Mac OS X and Windows have built-in security features that you should take advantage of. Enable your firewall (through security settings) and check off “Block all incoming traffic.” This setting will keep most of the bad guys out. Disabling file sharing (shown in the video above) is also an important security measure.
    3. Protect your passwords. Hackers can retrieve saved passwords from your Registry or install keyloggers, which make your keyboard activity available to them (including passwords you type in). Install something like LastPass, a browser add-on that stores your passwords in the cloud–you’ll never have to type a thing and passwords won’t be saved on your computer.
    4. Look for the padlock. Web sites that use HTTPS encrypt your activity, so anything you do on that site is confidential. Look for a padlock in the address bar, or simply check the URL for “https://…” Not all Web sites do this, but you can download HTTPS Everywhere, an add-on that will force an encrypted connection on many popular sites.
    5. Check the network name. In an attempt to lure you in, hackers might set up fake networks like “FREE Public Wi-Fi”, or “Starbucks FREE.” Check with the venue’s employees to confirm the name of their network.
    6. Use common sense. You should treat all open networks as a security risk. Don’t do any banking, online shopping, or other activities that would expose your private information. If you wouldn’t be willing to share it with the public, it can wait until you get home.

Do you have best practices for using Wi-Fi hot spots? Advise us in the comments below!

‘Three-parent babies’ could be born in Britain next year.

The first three-parent babies could be born by 2015 after the government set out new draft regulations which will allow donor DNA from a ‘second mother’ to be implanted into a defective egg.

The procedure, which was developed British scientists, is currently banned, but ministers want to change the law to prevent children suffering debilitating conditions like muscular dystrophy.

The Department of Health has launched a consultation on draft guidelines which is due to end in May.

Under the new rules, IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) clinics will be able to replace a baby’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor’s egg.

It is controversial because it would result in babies having DNA from three people.

Dr David King, director of the pressure group Human Genetics Alert, said: “If passed, this will be the first time any government has legalised inheritable human genome modification, something that is banned in all other European countries.

“The techniques have not passed the necessary safety tests so it is unnecessary and premature to rush ahead with legalisation.

“The techniques are unethical according to basic medical ethics, since their only advantage over standard and safe egg donation is that the mother is genetically related to her child. This cannot justify the unknown risks to the child or the social consequences of allowing human genome modification.”

However most health experts and scientists have backed the government claiming it heralds a new era in genetic medicine.

Professor Peter Braude, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at King’s College London, said: “I am pleased that the Government has been brave enough to follow through on their promises given during the 2008 revision of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, to bring before Parliament an option to help a small but deserving portion of society blighted with the spectre of transmitting mitochondrial disease to their children.

“Although rare, the effects of mitochondrial disease are devastating on those families, and the technology proposed will bring hope to those carrying the disorders.

“It is true that genetic alteration of disease risk is an important step for society and should not be taken lightly. However the proposed changes to the regulations ensure it will be limited to informed couples, who understand from sad personal experience the significant effects of their disease, and are best placed to balance the risks of the technology with the possibility of having children without mitochondrial disease.”

Around one in every 200 babies born in the UK has a severe mitochondrial disease. Although rare, the disorders can be passed to future generations through the maternal line.

Examples of mitochondrial diseases include conditions that cause muscle wasting, nerve damage, loss of sight and heart failure.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, Britain’s biggest research charity, said: “It is now almost a year since a major public consultation found broad support for the use of new IVF techniques for preventing mitochondrial diseases, so we are pleased that the Government has now published draft regulations that would permit this.

“Once further public consultation on the detail of these regulations is complete, we urge the Government to move swiftly so that Parliament can debate the regulations at the earliest opportunity and families affected by these devastating disorders can begin to benefit.”

Doug Turnbull, Professor of Neurology at the University of Newcastle, said: “I am delighted that the Government has published the draft regulations. This is very good news for patients with mitochondrial DNA disease and an important step in the prevention of transmission of serious mitochondrial disease”

Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: “News that the wait for proposed amendments to genetic research regulations to be shared with the public is over will be welcomed by many families living with mitochondrial disease.

“We have supported the Government’s review of the mitochondrial transfer IVF technique throughout, in the firm belief that open, thorough and transparent dialogue is critical. However, it will soon be two years since the initial consultation with the public was announced and three since the review began.

“There have been lengthy waits at every stage, and we now call on the Government to ensure that regulations are passed before the next general election, so that the technique can be moved towards clinical trials as soon as possible.”

He added: “Encouragingly, we have seen that, when given in-depth information, the majority of people in the UK are broadly supportive of this technology. We now need to see a prompt, efficient discussion with the public on the rules that will govern how it is taken forward.”

The new consultation is not to debate whether mitochondrial transfer should be allowed, but how it should be implemented.

Once the rules are brought in, it will be up to the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to decide whether a treatment can go ahead on a case-by-case basis.

Mitochondrial transfer will only be allowed when there is a “significant risk” of disability or serious illness.

Children born after mitochondrial transfer will not be entitled to discover the identity of the “third parent” donor.

Liz Curtis, from the Lily Foundation, which funds research into mitochondrial diseases, said: “The publication today of the draft regulations is welcomed by The Lily Foundation. We meet too many families on a daily basis whose worlds have been turned upside down by the devastating effects of mitochondrial diseases.

“These IVF techniques will eradicate mitochondrial disease for some families, offering the opportunity to have a healthy child. We hope the approval will not take too long, so these families can benefit from this as soon as possible and hopefully see a little light at the end of a dark tunnel.”

Scientists pinpoint exotic new particle.

In the field of quantum physics, you could call this a droplet in the bucket.

Physicists in Germany and the United States have discovered an exotic new type of particle that they call a quantum droplet, or dropleton.

Dropleton is a new kind of stable particle cluster in solids, formed inside tiny correlation bubble

Writing in the journal Nature, they say it behaves a bit like a liquid droplet and described it as a quasiparticle — an amalgamation of smaller types of particles.

The discovery, they add, could be useful in the development of nanotechnology, including the design of optoelectronic devices. These include things like semiconductor lasers used in Blu-ray disc players.

The microscopic quantum droplet does not dawdle. In the physicists’ experiments using an ultra-fast laser emitting about 100 million pulses per second, the quantum droplet appeared for only about 2.5 billionths of a second.

That does not sound like much, but the scientists say it is stable enough for research on how light interacts with certain types of matter.

A previously known example of a quasiparticle is the exciton, a pairing of an electron and a “hole” — a place in the material’s energy structure where an electron could be located but is not.

The quantum droplet is made up of roughly five electrons and five holes. It possesses some characteristics of a liquid, like having ripples, the scientists write.

Quantum physics is a branch of physics that relates to events taking place on the tiniest scale. It is essential in describing the structure of atoms.

Particles are the basic building blocks of matter. They include things like subatomic entities such as electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks. Only rarely are new ones found.

The scientists in Germany worked with a team led by physicist Steven Cundiff at JILA, a joint physics institute of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.

It was in Boulder where the laser experiments were performed using a semiconductor of the elements gallium and arsenic, revealing the new particle, albeit fleetingly.

“Even though this happens so rapidly, it is still useful to understand that it does happen,” says Cundiff.

Light applications

The scientists foresee practical value in the discovery.

“The effects that give rise to the formation of dropletons also influence the electrons in optoelectronic devices such as laser diodes,” says physicist Mackillo Kira of the University of Marburg in Germany, one of the researchers.

Examples of optoelectronic devices include LED lights and semiconductor lasers used in telecommunications and Blu-ray players.

“For example, the dropletons couple particularly strongly to quantum fluctuations of light, which should be extremely useful when designing lasers capable of encoding quantum information,” Kira adds.

Water leaked from Fukushima nuclear power plant finds its way to Canadian waters –

Researchers say radioactive cesium isotopes from Japan’s severely damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant have made their way to the waters just off the coast of Canada.

Scientists confirmed the arrival of radioactive Fukushima water at the annual American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu today, but pointed out that the concentrations of the two isotopes were still well below safe drinking levels.

Researchers from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography have been continuously sampling water off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, since 2011.

“These levels are still well below maximum permissible concentrations in drinking water in Canada for caesium-137 of 10,000 becquerels per cubic metre of water — so, it’s clearly not an environmental or human-health radiological threat,” Bedford’s Dr. John Smith told BBC News.

Ken Buesseler at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) confirmed that none of the Fukushima water has yet reached U.S. beaches.

Like the rest of Japan, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was ravaged by 2011’s tsunami and earthquake. In the wake of the plant’s meltdown, several hundred tons of radioactive water leaked into the ocean. Smaller leaks continue to be found.

Initial results showed that water in the plant’s immediate vicinity measured at 10 million becquerels per cubic meter (bq/m3). A becquerel is an internationally-agreed-upon unit used to measure radioactivity.

And while the two escaped radioactive cesium isotopes, cesium-134 and cesium-137, have found their way to the waters of British Columbia, their presence sits somewhere below 1 bq/m3. Scientists expect those concentrations to go up as the plume of Fukushima water makes its way slowly across the Pacific — but not drastically.

Models put future levels of Cesium-137 at no greater than 27 Bq/m3, and maximum levels of cesium-134 at 2 Bq/m3 — both amounts below what the World Health Organization, the EPA and Canada’s Department of the Environment consider safe for human consumption.

In a video posted last month, Discovery News reporter Trace Dominguez told viewers there’s no reason to worry about Fukushima radioactivity in the West Coast or anywhere else in the U.S.