A Second Baby May Have Been Cured Of HIV.

The treatment that cured an infant of the virus last year may have put a second child into remission. The baby, doctors hope, may even be cured.

One of last year’s biggest health stories came from the case of a Mississippi child apparently cured of HIV: treated with an anti-retroviral drug cocktail shortly after she was born, the virus seemed to have functionally vanished, leaving behind only fragments. Now 3 years old, she still has yet to show symptoms. But was she only an exception to the rule?

Maybe not. On Wednesday, doctors revealed a second, similar case: a Los Angeles-born child infected through its mother was treated with the drugs four hours after its birth, last April. Now, with the child approaching its first birthday, the virus appears to have gone into remission.

The HIV medication used in both cases is usually part of a treatment to suppress the virus in infected patients, but the illness, in those other cases, comes back after the patient is taken off the drugs. Right now, the baby is still getting regular medication, which makes it difficult to tell the status of the virus. (The Mississippi baby stopped being taken to appointments, for reasons that are unclear; the next time doctors saw her, the virus appeared to be gone.) Still, after regular testing, doctors are convinced that the virus is behaving differently from patients only having the virus suppressed, and are continuing to monitor the child in hopes that the virus is in remission.

So, no, it’s not definitively a cure, at least not yet. The Associated Press put it like this:

Doctors are cautious about suggesting she has been cured, “but that’s obviously our hope,” [infectious disease specialist Yvonne] Bryson said.

But two cases–and, possibly, more to come through the same process–would indicate that the first treatment wasn’t some kind of a fluke. Potentially great news for infected children.

This Infographic Shows You How to Delete Yourself from the Internet

This Infographic Shows You How to Delete Yourself from the Internet

Ready to erase your tracks and disappear online, once and for all? This infographic from Who Is Hosting This reveals the nine steps you need to take to remove your personal information collected all over the web.P

Many of the steps are ones we’ve mentioned in our own guide on the subject, from deactivating online accounts to getting yourself off of data collection lists. It also offers a few more suggestions, such as falsifying your account information for those horrendous accounts you can’t delete and making sure your phone company doesn’t have you listed as well. Of course, if you don’t want to completely disappear from the web, you can just pick and choose which steps to do to protect your privacy and personal information.P

Here’s the handy graphic:P

This Infographic Shows You How to Delete Yourself from the InternetSEXPAND

How to Disappear Online | Who Is Hosting ThisP

Which parts of America are the most contaminated with arsenic?

Heavy metal poisoning is becoming a very serious issue in America today, as toxins in groundwater and soils, some of which have persisted there for decades, are increasingly turning up in both drinking water and the general food supply. All across the country, residues of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals have been detected in well water, crop soils and even foods marketed toward the health-conscious, including some popular rice protein brands, and yet the nation’s regulatory authorities are hardly batting an eye at this travesty.


Arsenic in particular, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer designates as a Class A human carcinogen, has been in the alternative news frequently as of late following the publishing of test results revealing the presence of potentially disturbing levels of arsenic in brown rice, brown rice protein and various other rice-based products. This revelation has already prompted many companies who use such products to begin testing their products for heavy metals, with some even promising to set new safety thresholds.

USGS map reveals arsenic contamination in water supplies nationwide

So where is the bulk of this arsenic, some of which is present in highly toxic inorganic form, hiding? A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report on groundwater contamination, which includes well water and springs, found that it is essentially all over the place. But particular hotspots of contamination include New Jersey, Maryland and surrounding northeastern states as well as Michigan, Idaho, California, Arizona and Washington. Other studies have also identified large swaths of the central South and Southeast where arsenic is being absorbed by rice crops.

The study, which was published in 2000, shows concerning levels of arsenic greater than 10 micrograms per liter all across central Michigan and Idaho, as well as in California’s Central Valley where the bulk of the nation’s fresh produce is grown. Other highly contaminated areas, according to a USGS map, include Nebraska, South Dakota, central Oklahoma and Illinois, and parts of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

Many public water supplies are also contaminated with arsenic, according to the report, and public utility filtration systems typically do not remove this toxin before delivering water to customers. This means that untold millions of people who drink unfiltered tap water are also consuming arsenic, just as they are by consuming most commercial rice.

Long-term exposure to low-level arsenic a major threat to human health

Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on record as claiming that the short-term health effects of arsenic exposure at these levels are nonexistent, it is precisely the perpetual, cumulative toxic exposure over the longer term that is of major concern. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admits that even exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause major health damage over time.

“Because it targets widely dispersed enzyme reactions, arsenic affects nearly all organ systems,” says the CDC, noting that arsenic is also linked to gastrointestinal effects, renal damage, cardiovascular events, neurological damage, skin problems, anemia, leukemia, reproductive problems and cancer, including several types of skin cancer.

“Arsenic can cause serious effects of the neurologic, respiratory, hematologic, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and other systems,” adds the agency.

Countering the effects of arsenic exposure could be as simple as taking in more organic, methylating minerals like selenium and vitamin E, both of which protect the gut lining against arsenic-induced damage. Raising awareness about the presence of arsenic in water and soils is also beneficial, as food companies will be increasingly compelled to conduct heavy metal tests and establish contamination tolerances in the interest of public safety.

Sources for this article include:






Surge in babies born without brains in Washington State

There is something seriously wrong in the fertile Yakima Valley region of Washington. A surging number of babies are being born with major birth defects, and the reasons why are eluding state health officials.


As reported by CNN, a nurse in the area, Sara Barron, was the first to report on a particularly horrifying condition: anencephaly — a condition in which babies are born without much of their brain and skull.

“I was just stunned,” she told the network in an interview. “Three in a couple-of-month period of time… that’s unheard of, and they have such tragic, terrible outcomes.”

Her shocking finding and report eventually prompted an investigation by the state health department. Investigators found some disturbing results.

Over a three-year period, there were 23 cases concentrated in three southern Washington counties — Yakima, Benton and Franklin. That’s a rate (8.4 per 10,000 live births) that is four times the national average (2.1 per 10,000 live births), CNN reported.

What could be causing such a phenomenon? Is it just one of those weird coincidences, or is something more sinister at play?

Mandy Stahre, with the Washington State Department of Health, conducted the investigation into the high rates of anencephaly. She says she and other investigators are stumped.

“We have not found an answer, and that’s a very frustrating part, because this is such a devastating diagnosis for a woman to have,” she told CNN.

Barron, however, says she wonders if state health authorities did not find anything because they didn’t look hard enough at all possible causes.

‘We have to weigh how invasive we want to be’

For one thing, she said, the health department has not spoken to any of the parents of the babies who had birth defects. So they don’t know what the parents may have eaten, or what environmental conditions they have been exposed to, or what kind of chemicals or substances they all might have come in contact with — like, perhaps, the pesticides that are routinely sprayed in the heavily agricultural region in which they live.

Andrea Jackman, whose daughter Olivia was born with spina bifida, another type of neural tube defect, said she wasn’t asked anything by state investigators.

“Nobody’s asked me anything,” she told the network.

So, exactly how did the state conduct its investigation? Stahre said investigators examined data in each parent’s medical record — what sort of prescription drugs they were taking and preexisting medical conditions.

“The study examined medical records from January 2010 through January 2013 and looked at possible risk factors including family history, pre-pregnancy weight, health risk behaviors such as supplemental folic acid and medication use, and whether the woman’s residence received drinking water from a public or private source. No significant differences were found when comparing cases of anencephaly with healthy births in the three county area,” said a health department press release.

“But medical records don’t have details about diet or pesticide exposure,” CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen reported, “two key considerations for this type of birth defect.”

Indeed, the health department — in its press release — even admitted: “Medical record reviews might not have captured all information, preventing a cause from being identified.”

So why not talk to the mothers?

“Well, we have to weigh that,” said Stahre. “This is a devastating diagnosis, and we know that for a lot of these women, they had to make some hard choices. We do have to weigh about how invasive we want to be with these types of reviews.”

Engineered end of humanity?

At least one mother — Jackman — said she would have “been fine” with being questioned. She wants answers so that other mothers don’t have to go through the same thing.

On the surface, this looks like yet another example of poisoning that Natural News editor and founder Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, wrote about recently when he said humanity doesn’t stand a chance of surviving this onslaught of corporate-sponsored genocide:

After having now analyzed over 1,000 foods, superfoods, vitamins, junk foods and popular beverages for heavy metals and other substances at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs, I have arrived at a conclusion so alarming and urgent that it can only be stated bluntly.

Based on what I am seeing via atomic spectroscopy analysis of all the dietary substances people are consuming on a daily basis, I must now announce that the battle for humanity is nearly lost. The food supply appears to be intentionally designed to end human life rather than nourish it.





Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/044182_birth_defects_anencephaly_washington_state.html#ixzz2vDAsYrgu

How tiny grain of zircon can tell us so much about our planet

The discovery in Australia of a tiny grain of zircon dating back to 4.374 billion years ago tells us much about the planet’s formative years


Scientists estimate that the crystal of zircon is 4.374 billion years old – give or take six million years – which lies very near to the date when the planet itself formed during the birth of the solar system about 180 million years prior to this.

The zircon grain came from the Jack Hills mountain range of Western Australia and now represents the oldest known piece of terrestrial rock on the planet – though some fallen meteorites and samples of lunar rock brought back to Earth may well be older. Whichever way you look at it, the Earth seems to be a very old place indeed.

Trying to gauge the age of the Earth has a long tradition. James Ussher, the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, concluded in 1650 that the moment of creation occurred at nightfall preceding Sunday 23 October 4004BC. Although somewhat laughable by modern scientific standards, it was a remarkable piece of scholarship, weaving as he did the events and genealogies of the Bible with what was known about Greek and Roman history.

Archbishop Ussher concluded that the Earth was created 4,000 years before the birth of Christ and would be destroyed 2,000 years after his death. He was in good company in terms of his dates, by the way. Johannes Kepler, the great German mathematician and astronomer, and Isaac Newton, England’s father of physics, had both calculated that the Earth was created about 4,000 years before Christ.

As geological knowledge gradually replaced Biblical mythology, scholars began to realise that the Earth was far older than anyone had realised. The great geologists of the 19th century produced convincing evidence that some rocks were hundreds of millions of years old, which conveniently gave the time needed to explain the evolution of life and the origin of species by Charles Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection.

We now know that the Earth is far older than even these Victorian gentlemen had imagined. The crystal of zircon is like an ancient geological clock that began to tick some 4.4 billion years ago when the Earth’s first crust began to form above a hot ocean of molten magma. The dating work on the crystal, which was carried out by a team led by John Valley of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shows that the Earth’s crust began to form relatively soon after the planet itself came into existence, which would extend the age of the origin of life.

Scientists believe the Earth was created about 4.56 billion years ago. This was followed by the violent Hadean eon, when the planet was bombarded repeatedly with asteroids and comets, including the massive planet-sized object that led to the creation of the Moon. It was a few million years after this moon-birth moment that the zircon from the Jack Hills crystallised into a miniature time capsule.

The dating method used to determine its age so precisely is based on the steady and predicable radioactive decay of uranium isotopes to lead. The decay acts like the tick-tock of a geological clock. Knowing what exists now within the crystal lattice allows scientists to estimate the time when the clock started “ticking”. Its timekeeping accuracy is critical because a difference in age of 100 million or 200 million years can make all the difference to knowing what was going on during this earliest phase of the planet’s long history.

The single most important implication of the finding is that the Earth began to cool far earlier than previously thought. It means there was a cool-enough crusty landscape for liquid water to form – perhaps helpfully delivered by icy comets – and so for life itself to begin

Hangovers do not put off drinkers say scientists.

A pounding headache, nausea and unrelenting dizziness are the unwelcome hangover symptoms familiar to many drinkers who had one drink too many.

But the effects of being hungover do not influence if or when a person will drink again, researchers have found.

The results to be published in the ‘Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research’ journal by the team at the University of Missouri came from a study involving 386 young US adults, many of them university students.

For 21 days, participants who identified as regular drinkers, noted in a diary each morning whether they drank alcohol, if they were hungover, and if they expected to drink again that day.

This data offered 2,276 drinking episodes and 463 hangover episodes for the researchers to analyse.

Even when drinkers suffered great discomfort from drinking, the ratings given on hangover and non-hangover mornings did not significantly affect their intention to drink later that day.

Particpants only waited six hours longer to drink again if they were hungover, compared to those uneffected.

While past surveys of US University students have shown that half of drinkers continue drinking to relieve their symptoms, the study by the team at Missouri did not reflect this.

However, students were sometimes too hungover to complete diary entries and they were left blank, the researchers admitted.

Researcher Thomas Piasecki said: “Our findings fill in a basic piece of the puzzle concerning hangovers and alcoholism.

“If hangovers don’t strongly discourage or punish drinking, links between current problem drinking and frequent hangover seem less incongruent.

“If hangovers don’t generally hasten drinking, we can rule out a direct causal role of hangovers in the acceleration of problem drinking.”

“Experiencing frequent hangovers is a warning sign that should probably prompt you to reflect upon your drinking, and to consider seeking help if you are having difficulty drinking within safe limits,” Piasecki added.

To improve results, future studies should investigate whether having a hangover reduces the number of drinks at the next drinking episode (rather than just the time until the next drink), the researchers said.

200,000 people in the UK go to work hungover each day, according to Alcohol Concern, while up to 17 million sick days are taken due to drinking.

Dark matter looks more and more likely after new gamma-ray analysis

Scientists describe as ‘extremely interesting’ new analysis that makes case for gamma rays tracing back to Wimp particles
Gamma rays

Maps of gamma rays from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, before (left) and after signals from known sources were removed, reveal an excess that is consistent with the distribution of dark matter. Photograph: Daylan et al/Quanta magazine

Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent division of SimonsFoundation.org whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.


Not long after the Fermi Gamma-ray SpaceTelescope took to the sky in 2008, astrophysicists noticed that it was picking up a steady rain of gamma rays pouring outward from the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

This high-energy radiation was consistent with the detritus of annihilating dark matter, the unidentified particles that constitute 84% of the matter in the universe and that fizzle upon contact with each other, spewing other particles as they go. If the gamma rays did in fact come from dark matter, they would reveal its identity, resolving one of the biggest mysteries in physics. But some argued that the gamma rays could have originated from another source.

Now a new analysis of the signal claims to rule out all other plausible explanations and makes the case that the gamma rays trace back to a type of particle that has long been considered the leading dark matter candidate – a weakly interacting massive particle, or Wimp. Meanwhile, a more tentative X-ray signal reported in two other new studies suggests the existence of yet another kind of dark matter particle called a sterile neutrino.

In the new gamma-ray analysis, which appeared February 27 on the scientific preprint site arXiv.org, Dan Hooper and his collaborators used more than five years’ worth of the cleanest Fermi data to generate a high-resolution map of the gamma-ray excess extending from the center of the galaxy outward at least 10 angular degrees, or 5,000 light-years, in all directions.

“The results are extremely interesting,” said Kevork Abazajian, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. “The most remarkable part of the analysis is that the signal follows the shape of the dark matter profile out to 10 degrees,” he said, explaining that it would be “very difficult to impossible” for other sources to mimic this predicted dark matter distribution over such a broad range.

The findings do not constitute a discovery of dark matter, the scientists said, but they prepare the way for an upcoming test described by many researchers as a “smoking gun”: If the gamma-ray excess comes from annihilating Wimps, and not conventional astrophysical objects, then the signal will also be seen emanating from dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way – diffuse objects that are rich in dark matter but not in other high-energy photon sources such as pulsars, rotating neutron stars that have been floated as alternative explanations for the excess.

“These gamma rays match the predictions of a pretty prototypical Wimp, the kind of thing we were all writing down 10 or 15 years ago,” said Hooper, a theoretical astrophysicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Chicago, and the person who co-discovered the gamma-ray excess with then graduate student Lisa Goodenough in 2009. “That’s where my money is.”

“It’s definitely exciting,” said Neal Weiner, a dark matter specialist at New York University. “I think we’d like to see it somewhere else, like a dwarf galaxy, before getting really excited.”

Preliminary results from the Fermi Collaboration – scientists who process, analyze and release the telescope data – offer hints that there may indeed be a surplus of gamma rays coming from the dwarf galaxies. Although there is currently too little data to determine whether an excess exists, “we are starting to get closer to the range,” said Jennifer Siegal-Gaskins, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the Fermi Collaboration. “I would say the next couple of years of data could really be important for testing this excess.”

“If that small excess from the dwarf galaxies turns to a big one, that would convince the whole community,” Hooper said. “That would be game over.”

While most experts agree, some question whether indirect glimpses of dark matter can ever truly constitute a discovery.

Dark matter consists of elementary particles that do not emit or absorb light, because they do not experience the electromagnetic force. These particles are also unaffected by the strong nuclear force, which ensnares many of the known particles into atoms. Cosmologists infer the existence of dark matter, and can model its distribution throughout the cosmos, because it does participate in the force of gravity and therefore plays a leading role in shaping galaxies. If dark matter particles also experience the fourth and final force of nature, called the weak nuclear force, then they are of a type known as a Wimp.

In many theories, pairs of Wimps can annihilate each other on contact, emitting other particles as they go. If the glimmer of gamma rays from the inner galaxy is the afterglow from such annihilations, then their detected energy levels indicate that they most likely originate from Wimps with a mass of 35 giga-electron-volts (GeV) annihilating into quarks, or 10-GeV Wimps annihilating into tau particles.

The 35-GeV WIMP model “fits the data best,” said Tracy Slatyer, an assistant professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-author of the new paper. The fit has greatly improved, she said, since the group’s last analysis of the gamma-ray excess. If the signal wasn’t from dark matter, “it’s not at all clear that going to a better data sample would make the results look better,” she said, “but when I saw the new results, I was amazed.”

WIMPs have not yet shown up in direct detection experiments, which look for spurts of energy coming from their weak interactions with atomic nuclei, usually in detectors placed in mine shafts deep underground to lower the background noise. But this does not mean 35-GeV Wimps don’t exist, scientists said, because no one knows how frequently they interact. The authors of the new study “could be perfectly right, and we just need detectors two orders of magnitude more sensitive to see the particles,” said Juan Collar, an associate professor of physics at the University of Chicago who helps develop direct detection experiments.

Most of the researchers interviewed for this article said the presence of a gamma-ray excess from the dwarf galaxies would be sufficient proof of Wimps, but a few said that it might take a direct detection to convince them. “The problem is the universe is a messy place,” said Kathryn Zurek, an associate professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Try as they might to rule out “astrophysics” – shorthand among dark matter researchers for all the conventional stuff in the sky, from pulsars to supernovae to the sun – it is always possible that they have missed something.

The study authors, however, are confident that dark matter is the only plausible source of the gamma rays. “We threw everything including the kitchen sink at the problem,” Hooper said. “My views are on the record.”

Meanwhile, just as Hooper’s group was putting the finishing touches on the new manuscript, two other teams of scientists independently reported the discovery of a different anomaly in the sky: a dash of X-rays emanating from distant galaxies that is consistent with the decay of 7-kilo-electron-volt (keV) sterile neutrinos — heavier and less active cousins of the familiar neutrinos that are also dark matter candidates.

Esra Bulbul, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and her colleagues spotted the X-rays in data from the Chandra and XMM-Newton space telescopes and published their results Feb. 10. A week later, a group led by Alexey Boyarsky of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands reported the same X-ray excess in telescope observations of the Andromeda galaxy.

“I think we have a very big fish here,” Bulbul said.

Bulbul and colleagues report a statistical significance of between 4 and 5 sigma, meaning the X-ray signal is strong enough that the odds that it is a random fluke are only one in 100,000. However, putative dark matter signals often hover at the 4-sigma brink of statistical significance only to fade into the background when more data is collected. Seasoned veterans of this boom-and-bust cycle are skeptical about the new anomaly, but some have expressed cautious optimism.

“It’s definitely intriguing,” said John Beacom, a theoretical astrophysicist at Ohio State University. “They certainly have tried very hard to eliminate or examine the possibility of an atomic transition being the cause. They’ve also gone to great lengths to eliminate instrumental effects.”

The X-ray bump appeared in all subsets of the data, no matter how Bulbul and colleagues sliced it — a sign that the bump did not come from a bias somewhere in the telescope instrumentation. It was this same omnipresence that convinced particle physicists at the Large Hadron Collider that they had cornered the Higgs boson in 2012 before their signal reached the 5-sigma strength formally needed for a discovery. Further support for the significance of the X-ray excess comes from the Dutch group’s discovery of the same bump at 4.4-sigma strength in a different data set.

If the X-rays come from sterile neutrinos, the existence of these particles would very likely solve a long-standing puzzle about galaxy formation known as the “too big to fail” problem, which asks why objects called dark matter subhalos don’t collapse and form dwarf galaxies. “That’s one of the reasons I’m actually more excited about this result than I would be otherwise,” Abazajian said. The particles also play a role in the seesaw mechanism, the most widely supported explanation for the minuscule mass of regular neutrinos. Decays of sterile neutrinos shortly after the Big Bang could even explain the mysterious dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe today. “Sterile neutrinos get invoked for twenty different reasons,” Beacom said.

Like the gamma-ray signal, the X-ray excess will face a clear-cut test in the near future. The Astro-H telescope, set for launch in 2015, will be sensitive enough to detect the smear of the signal. If the width of the bump is consistent with the expected speed of decaying dark matter particles, “that would be a detection,” Abazajian said.

Both signals are tough to dismiss, raising a strange prospect. “It’s possible they are both dark matter,” Abazajian said. “It would be crazy, but it’s certainly possible.”

The sterile neutrinos associated with the X-rays could account for anywhere from 1 to 100 percent of dark matter, depending on how often they decay. And the WIMPs tied to the gamma rays are almost as flexible. The two could coexist. As Collar put it, “If the matter we know about is so rich in families of particles, what tells you this dark sector we know nothing about is not as rich or richer?”

A theoretical model called “exciting dark matter,” proposed in 2007 by Weiner and Douglas Finkbeiner of Harvard, a co-author of the new gamma-ray paper, even predicts the existence of both a keV-scale dark matter particle and a GeV-scale particle working in tandem. “So, at the moment, I’m quite excited!” Weiner said in an email.

But at least for the next couple of years, another nagging possibility remains.

“It’s like the Monty Python sketch – nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition,” Beacom said. “Sometimes in this field nobody expects astrophysics, but it’s almost always astrophysics. All of these groups have tried to be very careful, but it is difficult, and nature may surprise us with astrophysics yet again.”

Robot ships designed by Rolls-Royce.

Rolls Royce drone ship
An unmanned ship could be much simpler in design than a traditional one

Unmanned cargo ships could become a reality on our oceans within the decade, according to manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

The firm has been showing off the designs for its concept crewless ships.

The EU is funding a 3.5m euro (£2.8m) project dubbed Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence (Munin) which aims to develop its own autonomous ship.

Experts remain divided over whether such vessels will become a reality.

No crew

Writing about the future of shipping Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce’s vice president of innovation, engineering and technology said: “Now it is time to consider a road map to unmanned vessels of various types. Sometimes what was unthinkable yesterday is tomorrow’s reality.

“Given that the technology is in place, is now the time to move some operations ashore? Is it better to have a crew of 20 sailing in a gale in the North Sea, or say five in a control room on shore?” he asked.

A remote-controlled ship would look quite different to a traditional one, he added, largely because there would be no need for the facilities and systems currently needed for a crew.

Unmanned shipsIs a fleet of robotic ships a possibility in the next decade?

“Eliminate or reduce the need for people and vessels could be radically simplified,” he said.

According to Moore Stephens LLP, an industry consultant, crew costs account for 44% of total operating costs for a large container ship.


Maritime transport has seen significant spikes in volumes in recent years and shipping is now worth $375bn (£224bn) annually.

There are approximately 100,000 merchant ships in operation around the world with certain areas of water – such as the English Channel – clogged with vessels.

Unmanned ships are currently illegal under international law, according to Simon Bennett, a spokesman for the International Chamber of Shipping, an industry representing more than 80% of the global fleet.

“It would require a complete overhaul of the regulatory regime. Apart from the safety considerations, there would also be a lot of questions from bodies such as trade unions,” he told the BBC.

“While I wouldn’t dismiss it completely, realistically it is hard to see remote-controlled ships without any crew for two to three decades,” he added.

But there is, he said, intense debate in the shipping industry at the moment about the use of e-navigation – using computerised systems to navigate ships from dry land.

The ships would still have crews but some of the operational control would be moved to a system known as vessel traffic services, he explained.

For now Rolls-Royce’s plans for robot ships remain at the concept stage but it is busy showing off its paper designs in the hope of persuading the industry that such change is inevitable.

And it has precedents from other transport industries.

Car manufacturers, from Tesla to Nissan and Daimler have promised self-drive cars will be on the roads by 2020 or sooner.

WHO: Sugar intake ‘should be halved’

People will be advised to halve the amount of sugar in their diet, under new World Health Organization guidance.

The recommended sugar intake will stay at below 10% of total calorie intake a day, with 5% the target, says the WHO.

The suggested limits apply to all sugars added to food, as well as sugar naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.

UK campaigners say it is a “tragedy” that the WHO has taken 10 years to think about changing its advice.

The recommendation that sugar should account for no more than 10% of the calories in the diet, was passed in 2002.

It works out at about 50g a day for an adult of normal weight, said the WHO.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It is a tragedy that it has taken 10 years for the WHO to think about changing their recommendation on sugar”

Katharine JennerAction for Sugar

However, a number of experts now think 10% is too high, amid rising obesity levels around the world.

Announcing the new draft measures, the WHO said in a statement: “WHO’s current recommendation, from 2002, is that sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day.

“The new draft guideline also proposes that sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake per day.

“It further suggests that a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits.”

Dr Francesco Branca, WHO’s nutrition director, told a news conference that the 10% target was a “strong recommendation” while the 5% target was “conditional”, based on current evidence.

“We should aim for 5% if we can,” he added.

Facts about sugar

  • Evidence shows most adults and children in the UK eat more sugar than is recommended as part of a healthy balanced diet
  • Food and drinks that have a lot of added sugar contain calories, but often have few other nutrients
  • Sugary foods and drinks can also cause tooth decay, especially eaten between meals
  • Sugar found naturally in whole fruit is less likely to cause tooth decay than juices or blends because the sugar is contained within the body of the fruit
  • Source: NHS Choices.

The plans will now go for public consultation, with firm recommendations expected this summer.

Public Health England said its scientific advisory committee on nutrition was reviewing evidence on sugar in the UK diet.

Director of Nutrition and Diet, Alison Tedstone, said: “Our surveys show that the UK population should reduce their sugar intake as average intake for adults is 11.6% and for children is 15.2%, which is above the current UK recommendation of 10%. ”

Campaign group, Action for Sugar, said it was pressing for 5% to become the firm recommendation.

Nutritionist, Katharine Jenner, said: “It is a tragedy that it has taken 10 years for the WHO to think about changing their recommendation on sugar, which will have had astronomic implications on the millions affected by obesity and type 2 diabetes the world over. ”

The WHO guidelines are based on a review of scientific evidence on the health impact of sugar, including damage to teeth and the effect on obesity.

The obesity study, published last year in the BMJ, found while sugar did not directly cause obesity, those who consumed a lot of it, particularly in sweetened drinks, tended to put on weight as sugary food did not make them feel full.

A review of the link between sugar intake and tooth decay, carried out by UK researchers, found cases of tooth decay were lower when sugar made up less than 10% of daily calories.

Paula Moynihan, Professor of Nutrition and Oral Health at Newcastle University, said: “The less sugar you eat, the lower your risk of dental decay.”

Prof Tom Sanders of the School of Medicine, King’s College London, said a limit of 5% added sugar “would be very tough to meet”.

He added: “5% is untried and untested; 10% we can live with.”

Dr Nita Forouhi, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, said the 5% target was “ambitious, and challenging”.

On Tuesday a leading doctor called for a tax on sugar to help combat growing levels of obesity.

Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, told MPs: “We may need to move toward some kind of sugar tax, but I hope we don’t have to. “