Doctors approved to start using suspended animation (ScienceAlert)


http://pda.sciencealert.com.au/news/20143103-25339.html

From the desk of Zedie.

It’s Bliss: behind the iconic Windows XP photo


“It’s because of her that we’ve got the photograph.”

Although it will forever be associated with Windows XP, Bliss was actually the by-product of a love story. It was a regular Friday afternoon in 1996 when photographer Charles O’Rear took the drive through California’s wine country to see his then-girlfriend Daphne.

Chuck, as he introduces himself in conversation, has since married Daphne. Bliss, meanwhile, has gone on to become one of the world’s most iconic photographs, chosen as the default wallpaper of Microsoft’s operating system.


The iconic Bliss image.
(Credit: Microsoft/Charles O’Rear)

“There’s a time of the year in our mid-winter, in January, when we’ve had rains. The grass is now getting a brilliant green. The storms are still coming through with rain and clouds. While I’m driving this beautiful, winding road to see Daphne, my God, the storm has just gone through, there are some white clouds, boy, I think I’ll just get out and make a couple of frames,” he says.

Chuck pulled out his medium format Mamiya RZ67 film camera and made Bliss. It wasn’t the first time he had attempted to capture the beauty of the hills, though.

“That particular spot, or this area of the wine region, is known for that same thing — the rolling hills. I have been photographing them for a long time, with film. And yet colours never quite came out the same on Kodachrome 64, the best film you could possibly have. They were never quite green enough.”

Today, Bliss looks very different to how it did in the late 1990s. For the curious, you can click here to explore the area.
The location of Bliss, as seen today.
(Credit: Charles O’Rear)

Despite what many people might think, the original frame of Bliss was completely unaltered and unedited by Chuck when he submitted it to Corbis, the stock photo and image licensing service founded by Bill Gates in 1989.

Corbis — which means woven basket in Latin — had maybe 50 photographers on file when Chuck submitted Bliss. Today, there are over 100 million images in the database.

Bliss was purchased by Microsoft for an undisclosed sum. While Chuck can’t reveal how much he was paid due to a non-disclosure agreement, it was one of the largest amounts ever paid for a single photograph. He still doesn’t know how Microsoft found the photo, whether through keywords or by typing in phrases like “rolling green hills”.

“Several years after [Windows XP] came out, an email came to me from one of the engineers, somebody within Microsoft. ‘We’re just curious about where that photograph was made’,” read the email. Chuck continues: “‘Most of us in the engineering department think that it was Photoshopped. Some of us think that it was taken not far from Microsoft headquarters in Washington’.”

“Sorry guys, you’re all wrong,” he says. “It’s the real deal, it’s near where I live, and what you see is what you get. It has not been touched.” Microsoft did, however, crop the image for the desktop configuration and pumped up the green of the rolling hill.

Just for fun, Chuck has recreated Bliss entirely in Photoshop, made up of elements from his other photographs. You can see the recreated version here on his Photoshelter page.

Unlike images, operating systems have a use-by date. Microsoft will end support, software updates and security patches for Windows XP on 8 April. So what is the future for Bliss, the photo that remains inevitably tied to the OS?

“I think it’s going to be around forever,” he says. “When you are 90 years old, somewhere a photograph like Bliss will appear and you will say ‘I remember that. When we had computers on our desk, that was on the screen’. Anywhere on this planet right now, if you stop somebody on the street and you show somebody that photograph, they’re going to say ‘I’ve seen that somewhere, I recognise that’.”

Although there can never be a true indication of how many people have seen Bliss, Chuck estimates it is in the billions. The worldwide spread of Windows XP means that he has seen his own work in some far-flung places.

“The neatest place I have seen was recently, actually it was in the past couple of weeks. An American photographer was allowed to go into North Korea. One of [the photographer’s images] was in some power plant, there’s a big board where two men were sitting. What’s on the screen? Bliss.”

“Under the White House there’s something called the situation room … there were maybe 10 or 15 monitors and what was on the monitors? Bliss. I’m sure before they allowed the photographer to come in they had to clean all of the screens, make sure there was no stuff on there we couldn’t share with the world.”

With a photo as iconic and as well-known as Bliss, there are bound to be people who don’t quite share the same exuberance for the image as Chuck does.

“A couple of years ago we got on a ferry out of Townsville [in Queensland, Australia]. There it is on all the monitors. To the woman who was working for the ferry company, I said ‘that’s my photograph!’ and she said ‘so what?'”

Despite using a myriad of film cameras during his photographic career, Chuck is now a fierce proponent of digital photography. He carries just one camera with him now — a Panasonic Lumix LX3. With a 28mm-equivalent lens “which I love”, the LX3 is not a new camera by any means, but it does the job for him.

When asked if a modern day high-end digital camera could recreate the look and feel of Bliss, Chuck believes that it could “probably do an even better job” than a medium format film model.

“I think the lenses are now the challenge. [They] are now the weakest part of the camera. You can have a 100MB 16-bit image, yet if your lens is not up to par, it doesn’t matter, you might as well have a 10MB file.”

Chuck’s previous photographic roles included stints at National Geographic and he was a staff photographer at the Los Angeles Times. Now, he spends his time photographing wine-producing regions across the globe for books, professional assignments and his website, wineviews.com.

According to his wife Daphne, Chuck was one of the last photographers of his generation to move over to digital. Now, he doesn’t see himself going back after seven or eight years on the other side.

On assignment in the film days, Chuck says that every time a photographer made an exposure they had “no idea” whether or not they got the photo or not. “The first person to look at that was going to be an editor in Washington. Every shot’s gotta count.” Now, the photographer has the scope to edit, crop and present a finished image before it gets reviewed.

“In the early days of digital, the histogram was critical. You can’t spill over in the black point because on the printed page it’s going to get muddy. You’ve got to have some information on the white side so that when it’s on the press that won’t become a blank.” Now, he says that watching your histogram and being that precise doesn’t matter all that much anymore, “because the printed page is going away.”

“Pure photography is almost history. When we look at National Geographic, Time … they’re no longer using a pure photograph on the cover to sell the magazine. It’s illustrations. It’s photographs that are manipulated. They have decided that that’s what the reader wants.”

“Who wants to open a magazine when you can look at your tablet, phone or computer and get sound and visuals and better colours?”

Maybe for nostalgia’s sake, those users will have Bliss as their device’s desktop background. Closer to home, Daphne still has the wallpaper gracing the desktop of her home computer.

As for any future Microsoft wallpapers being captured by Chuck’s camera, he remains hopeful. “I sent them my phone number but nobody’s called yet for another photograph!”

 

You Can Watch the First Ever Operation to Transplant a 3D-Printed Skull Into a Person’s Head .


A 22-year-old woman in the Netherlands just became the first person ever to be outfitted with a 3D-printed plastic skull, reports Dutch News. The woman had a medical condition that caused her skull to thicken. It had already become about two inches thick, compared to the usual .6 inch of a healthy person, and was putting pressure on her brain, Dutch News reports. The operation took 23 hours, but was a success.

Previously, skull replacements had to be made with a cement-like substance, the doctors told Dutch News, which (as you can probably imagine) was not ideal. Using a 3D-printed plastic version allowed the team to create an implant that perfectly fit the patient. As ExtremeTech points out, 3D-printed materials have been used in a number of surgical and medical procedures, including an implant that replaced about 75 percent of a patient’s skull last year. But this is the first time the entire skull has been swapped out.

Here, you can see highlights of the procedure (in Dutch, and not for the faint-hearted):

 

The operation, which took place on a 22-year-old Dutch woman, was a success

 

Whale carcass ‘cure’ for rheumatism


Rheumatism sufferers sought relief inside a whale

A rheumatism sufferer sits inside the carcass of a whale in Eden. Photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia
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Climbing inside the carcass of a whale was once thought to bring relief to rheumatism sufferers, an Australian National Maritime Museum exhibit shows.

Staying inside the whale for about 30 hours was believed to bring relief from aches and pains for up to 12 months, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

It was thought to have started in the whaling town of Eden on Australia’s southern coast.

The practice is documented as part of the museum’s special whales season.

‘Tempting morsel of flesh’
A rheumatic patient would be lowered inside the carcass of a recently-slaughtered whale “leaving just his or her head poking out,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Rheumatism sufferer inside the carcass of a whale in Eden

Start Quote

‘I don’t know (if) there was scientific evidence per se but there was hearsay at the time that they felt better after being in the whale”

Michelle Linder
Curator, Australian National Maritime Museum
One claim for the origins of the practice, which dates back to the late 19th Century, is that a drunk man plunged into the carcass of a whale and emerged hours later apparently free of his rheumatism.

A story on the incident was published by the Pall Mall Gazette (later absorbed by the Evening Standard) entitled “a new cure for rheumatism” on 7 March 1896.

It said “a gentleman of convivial habits but grievously afflicted with rheumatism” had been walking along the beach with friends when he spotted the whale, which was already cut open, and “appeared to our hilarious friend a tempting morsel of flesh”.

His friends, horrified by the heat and smell, left him inside for several hours, until he emerged sober and devoid of his rheumatism.

The paper says the incident, which occurred a few years prior, gave birth to the bizarre practice.

“The whalers dig a sort of narrow grave in the body and in this the patient lies for two hours, as in a Turkish bath, the decomposing blubber of the whale closing round his body, and acting as a huge poultice,” it says.

The curator of the Australian National Maritime Museum exhibit, Michelle Linder, told the Sydney Morning Herald, it was unlikely to have been “a really popular thing to do”.

”I don’t know (if) there was scientific evidence per se (to support the practice) but there was hearsay at the time that they felt better after being in the whale”, she adds.

Rheumatism is a condition causing pain and swelling in the joints, commonly affecting the hands, feet and wrists.

‘Step forward’ in skin cancer fight.


For most people avoiding sunburn and sunbeds is the best way to reduce risk, says Cancer Research UK
Scientists say they have taken a step forward in understanding why some people are at greater risk of skin cancer because of their family history.

A newly identified gene mutation causes some cases of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, says a UK team.

The discovery will pave the way for new screening methods, they report in Nature Genetics.

The risk of melanoma depends on several factors, including sun exposure, skin type and family history.

Every year in the UK, almost 12,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma.

Mole

This is a step forward for people with a strong family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer”

Dr Safia Danovi,
Cancer Research UK
About one in 20 people with melanoma have a well-established family history of the disease.

A team led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, found that people with mutations in a certain gene were at extremely high risk of melanoma.

The mutations switch off a gene known as POT1, which protects against damage to packets of DNA, known as chromosomes.

Co-author Dr David Adams, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the discovery should lead to the ability to find out who in a family was at risk, and who should be screened for skin cancer.

He told the BBC: “The mutations in this gene result in damage to the end of the chromosomes and chromosomal damage in general is linked to cancer formation – that’s the pathway for it.”

Early detection
A number of gene mutations have been identified as increasing the risk of melanoma, but others remain unknown.

Prof Tim Bishop, Director of the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, said the finding increased understanding of why some families had a high incidence of melanoma.

“Since this gene has previously been identified as a target for the development of new drugs, in the future it may be possible that early detection will facilitate better management of this disease,” he said.

The team found cancers such as leukaemia were common in these families, suggesting the gene may underlie other cancers and not just melanoma.

Dr Safia Danovi of Cancer Research UK said: “This is a step forward for people with a strong family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

“But it’s important to remember that, for most of us, avoiding sunburn and sunbeds is the best way to reduce the risk of this disease.”

Genome ‘navigation map’ revealed › News in Science (ABC Science)


The clearest picture yet of how our genes are regulated to make the body work has been unveiled in a major international study.

The scientists, including Australians, have mapped how a network of switches, built into human DNA, controls where and when genes are turned on and off.

DNA

These “maps”, published today in two major studies in Nature, significantly increase our understanding of the human genome, which contains the genetic instructions needed to build and maintain all the many different cell types in the body.

The three-year-long project, called FANTOM5 (Functional Annotation of the Mammalian genome) and led by the RIKEN Centre for Life Science Technologies in Japan, involved more than 250 scientists across 20 countries and regions, including Australia.

Collaborator Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Associate Professor Christine Wells says the work has allowed researchers to learn the rules of DNA information flow.

“We are starting to understand how cells find the right information in the precise instant that it is needed,” she says.

Dr Alistair Forrest, scientific co-ordinator of FANTOM5 from the RIKEN Centre, says humans are complex, multi-cellular organisms composed of at least 400 distinct cell types.

“This beautiful diversity of cell types allow us to see, think, hear, move and fight infection – yet all of this is encoded in the same genome.”

All of our cells contain the same instructions, but genes are turned on and off at different times in different cells.

This process is controlled by switches – called promoters and enhancers – found within the genome. It is the flicking of these switches that makes a muscle cell different to a liver or skin cell.

The FANTOM5 team studied the largest yet set of cell types and tissues from humans and mice so they could identify the location of these switches within the genome.

They also mapped where and when the switches are active in different cell types and how they interact with each other.

Professor David Hume, director of the Roslin Institute at Britain’s Edinburgh University and one of the lead researchers on the project, uses the analogy of an aeroplane: “We have made a leap in understanding the function of all of the parts. And we have gone well beyond that – to understanding how they are connected and control the structures that enable flight.”

‘Intricate’
Associate Professor Ernst Wolvetang, also at the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, says the work is a game changer in the field.

As part of the same project, Wolvetang and his team have been able to look at brain stem cells and see how “intricate and complex” the gene regulatory networks are already at that basic level of development.

“It is an amazing compendium of information,” he says.

“Nobody up to date has taken so many cell lines and worked out which genes are on and which genes are off – and in this case we now know the whole story.”

Wolvetang says the “map” will be a major resource for researchers and already researchers are investigating how to turn one cell type into another.

Researchers also hope the FANTOM5 work will be a reference atlas to figure out which genes are involved, and how, in a whole range of diseases.

In a linked study, a Roslin Institute team used information from the atlas to investigate the regulation of an important set of genes required to build muscle and bone.

Another study used the FANTOM5 atlas to look at the regulation of genes in cells of the blood, producing what scientists described as a roadmap of blood cells that will help them pinpoint where and how cancerous tumours start to grow.

“Now that we have these incredibly detailed pictures of each of these cell types, we can now work backwards to compare cancer cells to the cells they came from originally to better understand what may have triggered the cells to malfunction, so we will be better equipped to develop new and more effective therapies,” says Forrest.

 

5 Tips to Reduce Your Exposure To Toxins .


For most people avoiding sunburn and sunbeds is the best way to reduce risk, says Cancer Research UK
Scientists say they have taken a step forward in understanding why some people are at greater risk of skin cancer because of their family history.

A newly identified gene mutation causes some cases of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, says a UK team.

The discovery will pave the way for new screening methods, they report in Nature Genetics.

The risk of melanoma depends on several factors, including sun exposure, skin type and family history.

Every year in the UK, almost 12,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma.



Start Quote

This is a step forward for people with a strong family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer”

Dr Safia Danovi,
Cancer Research UK
About one in 20 people with melanoma have a well-established family history of the disease.

A team led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, found that people with mutations in a certain gene were at extremely high risk of melanoma.

The mutations switch off a gene known as POT1, which protects against damage to packets of DNA, known as chromosomes.

Co-author Dr David Adams, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the discovery should lead to the ability to find out who in a family was at risk, and who should be screened for skin cancer.

He told the BBC: “The mutations in this gene result in damage to the end of the chromosomes and chromosomal damage in general is linked to cancer formation – that’s the pathway for it.”

Early detection
A number of gene mutations have been identified as increasing the risk of melanoma, but others remain unknown.

Prof Tim Bishop, Director of the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, said the finding increased understanding of why some families had a high incidence of melanoma.

“Since this gene has previously been identified as a target for the development of new drugs, in the future it may be possible that early detection will facilitate better management of this disease,” he said.

The team found cancers such as leukaemia were common in these families, suggesting the gene may underlie other cancers and not just melanoma.

Dr Safia Danovi of Cancer Research UK said: “This is a step forward for people with a strong family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

“But it’s important to remember that, for most of us, avoiding sunburn and sunbeds is the best way to reduce the risk of this disease.”

Electric ‘thinking cap’ speeds learning.


Researchers at Vanderbilt University have created a “thinking cap” that electrically stimulates the brain to increase its ability to learn from mistakes.

When we humans make a mistake, we have an instinctive “oops” reaction in our brains: a spike of negative voltage in the medial-front cortex. While this is something that has been observed by scientists, the reason why was a little more unclear.

To examine what effect this mistake response has on our behavior, two psychologists from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee — Ph.D. candidate Robert Reinhart and assistant professor of psychology Geoffrey Woodman — designed a cap that administers a low-level current to the brain to simulate the spike. They hypothesized that the spike plays a role in learning, allowing the brain to learn from mistakes.
Vanderbuilt University
“That’s what we set out to test: what is the actual function of these brainwaves?” Reinhart said. “We wanted to reach into your brain and causally control your inner critic.”

The cap secured two saline-soaked sponges to the test subject’s head, one to the cheek and one to the crown. Through these sponges, the researchers applied 20 minutes of transcranial direct current stimulation (tCDS) — one of the safest ways to non-invasively stimulate the brain.

They applied three types: anodal (from the crown to the cheek); cathodal (from the cheek to the crown); and control, which replicated the physical tingling sensation of tCDS without applying the current.

The subjects were then given a learning task with a high chance of making mistakes. They had to figure out by trial and error which buttons on a game controller corresponded to colors displayed on a monitor. This was complicated by occasionally showing a signal indicating the subject was not to respond. For even more difficulty, participants had less than a second to respond correctly.

While the subjects were undertaking this task, the researchers monitored their brain activity to gauge how the brain reacted to mistakes in the moment, and observe how this activity changed under the influence of the tCDS. They found that under an anodal current, the negative-voltage spike was almost twice as large as normal, and significantly higher for 75 percent of the subjects.

Their behavior was also altered, unknown to the subjects: They made fewer mistakes and learned from their mistakes more quickly than they did under the control. Under the cathodal current, the effect was the opposite — a smaller spike and more mistakes. The effect of the 20-minute tCDS was also transferred to other tasks, and lasted about five hours.

Here’s How The World’s Most Brilliant People Scheduled Their Days


Alas, there are but 24 hours in a day.

And when you have a seemingly insurmountable load of work, it can be a quite a challenge to even know where to start. But remember that history’s most legendary figures — from Beethoven to Beyonce — had just as little (or just as much) time as you have.

Using the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, RJ Andrews at Info We Trust designed some enlightening visualizations of how history’s most creative and influential figures structured their days. Unfortunately, there is no common prescription for the perfect schedule, and each person had a very different set of rituals.

beethoven

Based on the charts, we learn that some of history’s icons had more eccentric habits than others. Consider Beethoven, who would painstakingly count out 60 coffee beans for his morning brew:

hugo

 

Think your mornings are stressful? French author Victor Hugo would be “awakened by daily gunshot,” before taking an ice-cold, public bath on his roof. He’d also visit the barber every day:

balzac

 

Honoré de Balzac, the French writer, was said to live his life as “orgies of work punctuated by orgies of relaxation and pleasure,” according to one biographer. He also had an epic caffeine addiction, consuming as many as 50 cups of coffee per day. We recommend you don’t follow his example:

daily rituals

 

 

 

 

How does NASA send oversized special deliveries cross-country?


NASA’s Super Guppy Makes a Special Delivery.
NASA’s Super Guppy, a wide-bodied cargo aircraft, landed at the Redstone Army Airfield near Huntsville, Ala. on March 26 with a special delivery: an innovative composite rocket fuel tank. The tank was manufactured at the Boeing Developmental Center in Tukwila, Wash. The tank will be unloaded from the Super Guppy, which has a hinged nose that opens and allows large cargos like the tank to be easily unloaded. After the tank is removed from the Super Guppy, it will be inspected and prepared for testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The composite tank project is part of the Game Changing Development Program and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

NASA’s Super Guppy, a wide-bodied cargo aircraft, landed at the Redstone Army Airfield near Huntsville, Ala. on March 26 with a special delivery: an innovative composite rocket fuel tank.