Tractor beams of science fiction becoming a reality.

The tractor beam, a staple of science fiction including “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” that is employed to grab spaceships and other things remotely, is entering the realm of reality.

Researchers on Tuesday said they have developed a tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to levitate, move and rotate small objects without making contact with them. They envisioned medical and other applications for the device.

A researcher holding a device composed of 64 miniature loudspeakers that generate an ultrasonic (40Khz) acoustic field that traps and levitates a polystyrene bead (3mm diameter), in this undated handout photo courtesy of Asier Marzo, Stuart Robinson, Bruce Drinkwater and Sriram Subramanian. REUTERS/Asier Marzo, Stuart Robinson, Bruce Drinkwater and Sriram Subramanian/Handout via Reuters

“As a mechanical wave, sound can exert significant forces on objects. Just remember the last time you were in a concert and your chest was vibrating with the music,” said study lead author Asier Marzo of Britain’s University of Bristol and Spain’s Public University of Navarre.

Marzo said this sonic tractor beam has manipulated objects up to about one-seventh of an inch (4 mm) in diameter and can control the position and orientation of the levitated objects.

The tractor beam uses ultrasound at a frequency of 40 kilohertz. People can hear only below 20 kilohertz.

The researchers used sound waves from 64 miniature loudspeakers called transducers to create what they called “acoustic holograms” to control an object without touching it. These waves took the form of tweezers to lift an object, a vortex to hold a levitating object in place and a cage to surrounds an object and hold it in place.

“A simple wave will just push the particle in the direction of propagation. However, multiple waves will interfere with each other and create complex, acoustic 3D shapes that exert forces from all directions and keep the particle in place,” Marzo said.

Marzo said the largest object moved using the device was a 4 mm bead made of a light plastic called polystyrene.

“With special high-power transducers it would be possible to levitate even steel balls,” Marzo said.

Marzo described possible medical applications.

“Sound cannot travel through the void of space but it can do it through water or human tissue. This potentially enables the manipulation of clots, kidney stones, drug capsules, microsurgical instruments or cells inside our body without any incision,” Marzo said.

More powerful sonic tractor beams capable of levitating bigger objects from greater distances could control objects floating adrift in zero-gravity environments like inside the International Space Station, Marzo said.

Sleepwalkers feel no pain, remain asleep despite suffering injuries: Study is first to focus on pain experienced during sleepwalking.

new study of sleepwalkers found an intriguing paradox: Although sleepwalkers have an increased risk for headaches and migraines while awake, during sleepwalking episodes they are unlikely to feel pain even while suffering an injury.

Forty-seven sleepwalkers in this study reported having experienced at least one injurious sleepwalking episode. Only 10 reported waking immediately due to pain; the other 37 perceived no pain during the episode, but felt pain later in the night or in the morning.
Credit: © Alexandr Vasilyev / Fotolia

A new study of sleepwalkers found an intriguing paradox: Although sleepwalkers have an increased risk for headaches and migraines while awake, during sleepwalking episodes they are unlikely to feel pain even while suffering an injury.

Results show that sleepwalkers were nearly 4 times more likely than controls to report a history of headaches (odds ratio = 3.80) and 10 times more likely to report experiencing migraines (OR = 10.04), after adjusting for potential confounders such as insomnia and depression. Among sleepwalkers with at least one previous sleepwalking episode that involved an injury, 79 percent perceived no pain during the episode, allowing them to remain asleep despite hurting themselves.

“Our most surprising result was the lack of pain perception during the sleepwalking episodes,” said principal investigator Dr. Regis Lopez, psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Hospital Gui-de-Chauliac in Montpellier, France. “We report here, for the first time, an analgesia phenomenon associated with sleepwalking.”

Study results are published in the Nov. issue of the journal Sleep.

Lopez and colleagues Isabelle Jaussent, PhD, and Prof. Yves Dauvilliers conducted the cross-sectional study of 100 healthy control subjects and 100 patients with a diagnosis of sleepwalking, including 55 males and 45 females. Sleepwalkers had a median age of 30 years. Daytime pain complaints were evaluated by a clinician and self-report questionnaires, which assessed lifetime headache frequency and headache characteristics.

Forty-seven sleepwalkers reported having experienced at least one injurious sleepwalking episode. Only 10 reported waking immediately due to pain; the other 37 perceived no pain during the episode, but felt pain later in the night or in the morning.

For example, one patient sustained severe fractures after jumping out of a third-floor window while sleepwalking but didn’t feel the pain until after waking up later in the night. Another patient broke his leg during a sleepwalking episode in which he climbed onto the roof of his house and fell down, but he didn’t wake up until morning.

“Our results may help to understand the mechanisms of the sleepwalking episodes,” said Lopez. “We hypothesize that a dissociate state of arousal may modify the components of sleep-wake behavior, consciousness, and also pain perception.”

Symposium gathers experts on oxidative stress and mitochondria.

JBL Center Director Zhi-Min Yuan, Professor Emeritus John B. Little, Acting Dean David Hunter

JBL Center Director Zhi-Min Yuan, Professor Emeritus John B. Little, Acting Dean David Hunter

Cutting-edge work on molecular mechanisms involved in the cellular response to stress was the focus at the 18th annual John B. Little Symposium, held October 23-24, 2015 at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The symposium is hosted each year by the John B. Little (JBL) Center for Radiation Sciences. Both the symposium and the center are named for John B. Little, James Steven Simmons Professor of Radiobiology Emeritus, one of the first scholars to characterize problems in public health associated with radiation exposure.

Attendees packed the School’s Snyder auditorium to hear experts in the field discuss topics related to oxidative stress, which is caused by high levels of chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen (called reactive oxygen species, or ROS). Oxidative stress can cause damage to DNA, protein, and lipids, leading to myriad pathologies such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Some speakers focused on mitochondria, the cell components that convert food and oxygen into energy and power metabolic activities. Mitochondria also generate ROS, and may overproduce it if their function is deregulated.

Work in this area provides important evidence toward advancing the JBL Center’s research mission in radiation sciences, said Director Zhi-Min Yuan, professor of radiobiology. One of the ways that oxidative stress is induced is through ionizing radiation from environmental sources or medical procedures such as CT scans. Elucidating this process will help researchers understand mechanisms underlying the cellular response to ionizing radiation and how the biological system adapts, he said.

In his opening remarks, Acting Dean David Hunter observed that some attendees may be wondering why this event was being held at a school of public health. A quarter of the School’s faculty identifies as laboratory scientists, Hunter said, and the School has “a deep commitment to analyzing problems from the cell level to the community level.”

Hunter and other speakers acknowledged the support that the Morningside Foundation, established by the family of the late T. H. Chan, has provided to the JBL Center and the symposium. The foundation also supported the establishment in 2012 of the Morningside Professorship in Radiobiology, in honor of Little. Gerald Chan, SM ’75, SD ’79, director of the foundation, was a student of Little’s.

Presenting during the symposium’s opening session, Tobias Walther, professor of genetics and complex diseases, discussed new advances in understanding the complex biology of lipid droplets—organelles that store energy for cells and interact with mitochondria. Walther’s research partner Robert Farese, professor of genetics and complex diseases, moderated the session, which also included Amy Wagers of Harvard Medical School. She described her lab’s work identifying a protein that seems to reverse age-related muscle mass decline in mice. Read more about Walther and Farese’s work.

Harvard Chan School faculty members Bernardo Lemos, assistant professor of environmental epigenetics, and James Mitchell, associate professor of genetics and complex diseases, also led sessions.

New electronic sensor can detect ovarian cancer in your breath.

Your breath says more about you than you might think – not just how inebriated you are or what you had for breakfast. A new type of sensor that can ‘sniff out’ traces of ovarian cancer in a patient’s breath has been developed by researchers in Israel, offering a low-cost, and painless way to screen for the disease.

We’ve seen the idea of a breathalyser being used to detect different types of cancer before, but what makes this new technology stand out is the amount of data that can be captured, as well as the compact size and low cost of the associated kit. On top of that, the researchers claim it’s safer and more accurate than the detection methods that are currently in use.

The sensors in the breathalyser are looking for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath samples: they use a flexible polymer substrate covered in gold nanoparticles to which the VOCs attach. By applying electrodes and a voltage to the resulting film, patterns can be identified, which are then matched up to various diseases.

“Changes in metabolism that accompany a specific illness cause changes in the composition and/or concentration of VOCs in the breath,” lead researcher Nicole Kahn from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology told Jordan Rosenfeld at Mental Floss.

Based on some initial testing, Kahn and her colleagues were able to correctly detect ovarian cancer in 82 percent of cases, which they say is a significant improvement on current detection methods, including special blood tests and transvaginal ultraound. The fact that having to give a breath sample is a non-invasive, safe, and easy often for patients means more women will hopefully be given the option to get screened. Right now, only high-risk patients are tested for ovarian cancer to reduce the chance of false positives, and seeing as most women don’t get symptoms until the disease is quite advanced, it means many cases go undetected until it’s too late.

With further research, Kahn thinks the same technique could be used to test for different types of cancer, as well as other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. She also says there’s still room for improvement in making the sensors smaller and more sensitive before they’re ready for clinical use.

Ovarian cancer currently accounts for around 3 percent of cancers among women, and with around 200,000 cases reported in the US each year, it’s one of the rarer forms of the disease. However, it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, and so new techniques to battle it would have a significant impact.

Chasing Wormholes: The Hunt for Tunnels in Space-Time

Science fiction literature is full of stories in which tunnels in space-time — known as wormholes — are used for time travel. How much fact lies within the fiction? The answer is, more than you might think. Scientists are looking at ways to use traversable wormholes (if they exist) to travel faster than the speed of light — and even to travel through time itself.

A traversable wormhole is a hyperspace tunnel, also called a throat, that connects together two remotely distant regions within our universe, or two different universes — if other universes exist — or two different periods in time, as in time travel, or different dimensions of space,” physicist Eric Davis told by email.

Davis specializes in the field of space-time as a member of the Tau Zero Foundation, where he uses equations from Einstein’s general theory of relativity to think about possible (or impossible) designs for traversable wormholes, warp drives and time machines.

Building a wormhole

Wormholes were first proposed in 1916 by mathematician Ludwig Flamm, who was toying around with equations from Einstein’s theory of general relativity that describe how gravity can curve space-time, which refers to the fabric of physical reality. While these tunnels through space-time are a fascinating theoretical possibility, according to physicist Kip Thorne, a professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, scientists have not yet come up with an agreed-upon way that wormholes could form in nature, and no wormholes have ever been detected.

Thorne and some of his colleagues also showed that even if a wormhole appeared, it would likely collapse before an object (or person) could pass through it. To keep the wormhole open long enough to traverse it would require some kind of scaffolding, but normal matter wouldn’t stand up to the job — it would require an “exotic material.”

Dark energy is one form of naturally occurring exotic matter whose negative pressure produces the gravitationally repulsive force that pushes the space inside our universe outward, thus producing the inflationary expansion of the universe,” Davis said.

Along with dark energy, scientists also know of an exotic material called dark matter, which is five times more prevalent in the universe than regular matter. To date, scientists have been unable to directly detect either dark matter or dark energy, so much about them is still unknown. Scientists can learn about these materials, though, by examining the effect they have on the space around them.

According to Ali Övgün of Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, it’s possible that wormholes could form where dark matter is present, and thus that they could exist in the outer regions of the Milky Way, where dark matter lies, as well as within other galaxies. Övgün is working to prove that wormholes could exist in regions dense with dark matter. He and his colleagues have run simulations that show that wormholes in dense regions of dark matter found in galactic halos would satisfy the physical requirements scientists think the tunnels require.

“But it is only mathematical proof,” Övgün said. “I hope one day it will be possible to also find direct experimental evidence.”

So, what happens to a person or instrument traveling through a wormhole?

“Nothing! The space-time geometry of traversable wormholes requires that there be no nasty, intolerable gravitational tidal forces acting upon the spacecraft or its passengers while they move through the wormhole tunnel,” Davis said. “They go into the throat at their departure location near Earth and get shunted through the tunnel to emerge out the other side near the destination star.”

Because these theoretical tunnels cut through space-time, they would allow travelers to achieve speeds that appear to an outside observer to be faster than light (FTL). However, from the travelers’ points of view, they would never actually outpace the speed of light — it would just seem that way to outside observers because the travelers would be taking a route that’s shorter than they would have taken through ordinary space.

Before scientists could use wormholes, they would first have to find them. To date, wormholes have not been discovered. However, if they exist, locating a tunnel through space-time may not be as difficult as it sounds.

As it is visualized in the movie ‘Interstellar,’ in the future, there will be some experiments to observe [wormholes] indirectly,” Övgün said.

Based on certain wormhole theories, he compared peering through a wormhole to Alice’s glimpse through the looking glass, in Lewis Carroll’s novel of the same name. The region of space at the far end of the tunnel should stand out from the area around the entrance thanks to distortions that would be similar to the reflection in curved mirrors. Another indication may be the way light is concentrated as it moves through the wormhole tunnel, much as the wind blows through a physical tunnel.

Davis refers to what is seen at the near end of a wormhole as a “rainbow caustic effect.” Such effects could be seen from a distance.

“Astronomers were planning to use telescopes to hunt for these rainbow caustics as a sign of a naturally occurring, or even an alien-made, traversable wormhole,” Davis said. “I never heard if that project got off the ground.”

Wormhole Spaceship

Traveling through time

As part of his study of wormholes, Thorne also proposed a thought experiment in which a wormhole could be used as a time machine. Thought experiments about time travel often run into paradoxes. Perhaps the most famous of these is the grandfather paradox: If an explorer went back in time and killed his or her grandfather, that person could not be born, and would never have gone back in time in the first place. This seems to suggest that backward time travel is impossible, but according to Davis, Thorne’s work opened up a new avenue for scientists to explore.

“An entire cottage industry of theoretical physics was born after that, which led to the development of other space-time techniques that can produce causal, nonparadox time machines,” Davis said.

But although using wormholes for time travel may appeal to fans of fiction (and those who’d like to change their past),  Davis said current theories show that to make a wormhole time machine, one or both ends of the tunnel would need to be accelerated to velocities approaching the speed of light.

“It would be extremely difficult to construct a wormhole time machine,” Davis said. “It’s relatively much simpler to use wormholes for FTL interstellar travel between the stars.”

Other physicists have suggested that using a wormhole to travel through time would cause a massive buildup of energy that would destroy the tunnel just before it could be utilized as a time machine — a process known as quantum back reaction. Nonetheless, it is still fun to dream about the potential.

“Think of all the possibilities of what people could do and the discoveries they could make if they could travel through time,” Davis said. “Their adventures would be very interesting, to say the least.”

Supersonic jet promises travel from London to New York in half an hour | Fox News


The Skreemr would hit speeds of over 10 times the speed of sound and take passengers from London to New York in just a half hour. (Charles Bombardier)

There’s been a lot of news lately about faster air travel with the release of a bevy of plans for supersonic jets.

But designers of a concept aircraft named Skreemr say their aircraft could fly passengers from London to New York in an unbelievable half an hour.

Charles Bombardier and Ray Mattison say scramjet technology would be used for the Skreemr’s engines that uses the speed of the aircraft to forcefully compress the incoming air for engine combustion instead of from a tank on board. Scramjets are designed to be smaller, lighter and faster, which will allow the Skreemr to hit speeds exceeding Mach 10 – 10 times the speed of sound –or around 7,673mph, The Globe and Mail reported.

Bombardier, who came up with the idea for the Skreemr’s sleek design, envisions a 75-passengers in luxury craft with four wings and two large rockets on the rear. The Skreemr would be launched at very high speed with the help of a magnetic railgun launching system and liquid-oxygen or kerosene rockets would be fired to enable the plane to rapidly climb higher in the sky and reach Mach 4, which is around twice the speed of Concorde.

While Bombardier came up with the idea, Mattison, from Design Eye-Q in Minnesota, created the renderings of the concept.


So far, scramjet technology is being tested in the the U.S. and China for military purposes, so it’s unclear if the Skreemr would be used for commercial flights.

Earlier this month, designs for the Concorde 2, based on a patent awarded to Airbus in July appeared, which would travel at 4.5 times the speed of sound and could take people between London and New York in one hour –three times faster than the original Concorde, which made its final flight in 2003.

Meanwhile, a group of Concorde enthusiasts, called Club Concorde, made up of ex-pilots, airline executives and have pledged $250 million to get the legendary jet back in the air by 2019.

A Pregnant Woman Eating Organic Vs. Eating Conventional: It’s Time To Think About Your Baby


It seems as if it was yesterday when the masses were completely unaware of the concerns being raised by a number of internationally recognized scientists regarding Genetically Modified Foods (GM). Now, dozens of countries in Europe have completely banned or have severe restrictions on GMOs, which includes the pesticides that go along with them. In fact, 19 new countries in Europe recently banned the growing of Genetically Modified foods in their countries, citing a number of health and environmental concerns. You can read more about that here.

The Difference Between Organic Food & Conventional Food

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic farms and processors must not use any genetically modified ingredients. This means that organic farmers can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO feed, an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients, and so on. Farmers and processors must show that they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances from farm to table. In order for something to qualify as organic, it must also be free from most synthetic materials, like pesticides and antibiotics.

Conventional food is (obviously) the exact opposite. Conventional food can be sprayed with pesticides, contain genetically modified ingredients, as well as administer antibiotics.

Eating Organic vs Eating Conventional

In 2012, a widely reported Stanford University study concluded that there is little difference in the healthfulness and safety of conventional and organic food. (source) Since its publication, experts in the environmental and health sciences department criticized the study for completely overlooking a large and growing body of evidence regarding the adverse effects of pesticides. More specifically, a letter accepted for publication in the Annals of Internal Medicine pointed to the lack of information in the study regarding extensive data on the number, frequency, potential combinations, and associated health risks of pesticide residues in sprayed food. This publication calculated a 94% reduction in health risk attributable to eating organic forms of six pesticide intensive fruits.

So is organic food more nutritious?

“In carefully designed studies comparing organic and conventional apples, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, milk, carrots, grains and several other raw foods, organic farming leads to increases on the order of 10% to 30% in the levels of several nutrients, but not all. Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phenolic acids tend to be higher in organic food about 60% to 80% of the time, while vitamin A and protein is higher in conventional food 50% to 80% of the time.” – Charles Benbrook, research professor and program leader for Measure to Manage (M2M): Far and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health at Washington State University

A team led by Kristen Brant, a scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, carried out one of the most sophisticated meta-analysis of the “organic-versus-conventional food” nutrient-content debate. Their analysis was published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences in 2011, under the title, “Agroecosystem Management and Nutritional Quality of Plant Foods: The Cause of Organic Fruits and Vegetables.” 

This study documents significant differences in favour of organically grown food and explains the different, yet basic farming system factors that lead to these differences. They concluded that increasing the amount of plant-available nitrogen, which is typically found in conventional farming, reduces the accumulation of (plant) defence related secondary metabolites and vitamin C, while the contents of secondary metabolites such as carotenes that are not involved in defense against disease and pests may increase.

They also found that secondary plant metabolite based nutrients in fruits and vegetables are 12 percent higher, on average, in organic food compared to conventionally grown food. Another group of nutrients that are composed of plant secondary metabolites that are involved in plant defenses against pests and response to stress were, on average, 16 percent higher.

“This subset encompasses most of the important, plant-based antioxidants that promote good health through multiple mechanisms.”

The team of researchers estimated that the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables is associated with a 12 percent higher nutrient level intake.

This is just one example of research conducted showing higher nutrient levels in organically grown food, and we are not even talking about pesticides yet.

One thing about organic food is that it’s not sprayed. A recent study conducted by researchers from RMIT university, published in the journal Environmental Research, found that an organic diet for just one week significantly reduced pesticide exposure in adults by 90 percent. (source)

Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health at Boise State university, recently published a pesticide exposure study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Results of her research indicated that among individuals eating similar amounts of vegetables and fruits, the ones who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower OP pesticide exposure than those who normally consume conventionally grown produce. You can read more about that here.

Here is a related video that has made its way around the web and in our articles multiple times.

“The change in how agriculture is produced has brought, frankly, a change in the profile of diseases. We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before. The tobacco companies denied the link between smoking and cancer, and took decades to recognize the truth. The biotech and agrochemical corporations are the same as the tobacco industry; they lie and favor business over the health of the population.” – Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a paediatrician specializing in environmental health

The list literally goes on and on, the pesticides that are sprayed on our food have been linked to a variety of diseases, and high risk pesticides rarely appear as residues in organic food, and when they do, the levels are usually much lower than those found in conventional foods -especially the levels in imported produce.

“I recently completed an assessment of relative pesticide health risks from residues in six important fruits – strawberries, apples, grapes, blueberries, pears, and peaches. Using the latest data from USDA’s Pesticide Data Program (USDA, 2012) on these foods, I found that the overall pesticide risk level in the conventional brands was 17.5-times higher than the organic brands. The differences translate into a 94 percent reduction in health risk from the selection of organic brands.” – Charles Benbrook, research professor and program leader for Measure to Manage (M2M): Far and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health at Washington State University, from his letter that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

This is very clinically significant, and this is why more and more people are starting to be concerned about pesticide related health risks.

The work of Chensheng (Alex) Lu, from the Harvard School of public health is well known. He has shown that when school-age children switch to a predominately organic diet, exposures to organophosphate (OP) insecticides are almost completely eliminated.

“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)

Organic Versus Conventional If You’re Pregnant

“How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?…As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals –and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe” – Jane Goodall

Now, take all of the information above (which is just a fraction of what’s out there), and think about a woman who is pregnant. GMOs (and the pesticides that go with them) are fairly young. They’ve only been around since the late 1990’s, and the children born when the emergence of GMOs was just starting are now growing up. We have yet to see the long term effects, and it’s scary to consider that no long term studies have been cited by major government organizations confirming the long term consumption of GMO foods. Just like geneticist David Suzuki said, “by slipping it into our food without our knowledge, without any indication that there are genetically modified organisms in our food, we are now unwittingly part of a massive experiment.”

The only long term study that’s been conducted was done independently, obviously away from industry sponsorship. It was published in Environmental Sciences Europe last yearand found GMO maize, along with roundup herbicide exposure led to cancer, liver/kidney damage as well as severe hormonal disruption. Roundup ready is sprayed on GM crops that have been engineered to resist it.

The active ingredient in roundup is Glyphosate, which was recently linked to cancer by the World Health Organization .

Pesticides sprayed on our food have also been linked to birth defects. (source)  A paper published in the journal Pediatrics found that prenatal exposure to some of the pesticides sprayed on our food could impair the anthropometric development of the fetus, reducing the birth weight, length, and head circumference.

There are a number of studies that have examined pesticide induced diseases when it comes to the fetus. You can view some of them here.

Numerous studies have linked agricultural pesticides to autism. You can find those studies here.

Canadian research has also identified the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, fetal, and non pregnant woman’s blood. They also found the presence of Monsanto’s Bt toxin. The study was published in the Journal Reproductive Toxicology in 2011. (source)

The study concluded, apart from pesticides, that Monsanto’s Bt toxins are clearly detectable and appear to cross the placenta to the fetus. The study pointed out that the fetus is considered to be highly susceptible to the adverse affects of xenobiotics (foreign chemical substances found within an organism that is not naturally produced). This is why the study emphasized knowing more about GMOs is crucial, because environmental agents could disrupt the biological events that are required to ensure normal growth and development.

Affording Organic Food

I believe if you can afford to eat conventional food, you can afford a wide variety of organic food. If you don’t believe me, try adding up what you spend in a month on conventional fruits and vegetables. Then switch to organic (only fruits and vegetables) and see what you spend in a month. If you’ll do that, you’ll notice no significant difference.

Cut out most of the junk food in your life, and try it with all of your food, and you still probably won’t. That being said, the way the system is set up to make organic food more expensive is ridiculous.

As far as feeding the world, what we throw away could do that. The money we spend on war in a couple of years could do that, and we are being told that GMOs do that we they actually don’t?

sustainable agricultural practices could be set up all over the world. GMO farming is not really sustainable and this has been demonstrated time and time again. One example is in India, where  Monsanto’s insect-repellent Bt cotton wreaked havoc on the country’s farmers. Those seeds cost twice as much as conventional ones and required greater inputs of water and expensive herbicides and pesticides. As a result, thousands of Indian farmers committed suicide.

The Union of Concerned Scientists reminds us that GM crops are not guaranteed, as promised by company advertising. They still fail to produce promised yields, and farmers are not permitted to save seeds due to the company’s patent. As a result, entire communities can be pushed to the brink of starvation.

Every person on the planet can feed themselves with just 100 square feet of well managed land. In 2008, the UN Conference of Trade and development supported organics, saying that organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and is more likely to be sustainable in the long term. You can read that full report HERE.

Book Recommendation To Learn More

Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public.” 

The book reveals countless examples of scientific fraud. It educates people on how genetic engineering of the world’s food supply came to be, and how the movement progressed by violating the protocols of science. It touches upon how many scientists and institutions have systematically twisted the truth in order to hide the risks associated with GMOs. It is supported by an internationally recognized group of scientists, who have written some great reviews about the book.

Thanks for reading.

Earth Bloomed Early: A Fermi Paradox Solution?

Innumerable Earth-Like Planets

An artist’s impression shows innumerable Earth-like planets to come into existence over the next trillion years in the universe.

Mysterious ‘gash’ forms on Wyoming ranch, unleashing fears of hidden volcanoes and earthquakes

© The Washington PostWhen a pair of hunting guides noticed a crack in the ground in a remote ranch of central Wyoming last month, they didn’t think much of it.

When they returned to the location in the Bighorn Mountains a few weeks later, they were shocked by what they found, according to NBC Affiliate KUSA.

“There it was, this huge slide or crack or whatever it is,” Sy Gilliland, owner of SNS Outfitter & Guides, which offers guided elk, antelope, deer, moose and bear hunts, told KUSA. “I don’t really think anyone knows what happened out there, all of a sudden it was just there. I think the reason it’s so fascinating is it’s so big. And it doesn’t make any sense, where it happened it’s just like the ground opened up, and the size of it is just huge.”

How huge?

About 50 yards wide and the length of six football fields, SNS reported on its Facebook page. Two posts about the crack generated widespread curiosity and were shared nearly 10,000 times.

According to the SNS, locals have been referring to the newly formed trench as “the gash.” Others simply call it “the crack.” Photos from the crevasse reveal steep cliffs, massive earthen towers and large boulders strewn across the bottom.

The gash’s size was impressive, but so was the speed at which it formed. Social media users speculated that the formation represented an impending volcanic eruption or an earthquake, but experts were quick to allay their fears.

On its Facebook page last week, SNS provided an update about what might have caused the ground to split open:

Since so many people have commented and asked questions, we wanted to post an update with a little more information. An engineer from Riverton, WY came out to shed a little light on this giant crack in the earth. Apparently, a wet spring lubricated across a cap rock. Then, a small spring on either side caused the bottom to slide out. He estimated 15 to 20 million yards of movement. By range finder, an estimate is 750 yards long and about 50 yards wide.

“Amazing what Mother Nature can do and is still doing,” one Facebook user commented.

“Holy mackerel…,” another added.

“A number of things trigger them, moisture in the subsurface which causes weakness in soil or geology, and any process that would weaken the bedrock or unstabilize it somehow,” Seth Wittke, Wyoming Geological Survey’s manager of groundwater and geologic hazards and mapping, told the Powell Tribune.

After studying the gash from afar, WGS public information specialist Chamois Andersen, offered Tribune readers some advice about the unstable formation as it continues to settle: Do not approach it.

This new self-healing concrete is being trialled in the UK

This new self-healing concrete is being trialled in the UK

Potholes that fill themselves.

 The concept of self-healing concrete doesn’t sound too exciting, until you think about all the pavement cracks and road potholes that we have to put up with on a daily basis. Maintaining the infrastructure of a modern, developed nation costs a huge amount of time and money, and having bridges and buildings take care of their own repairs would free up resources to use elsewhere.

Now trials are underway in Wales to see if self-healing concrete is a viable option for the country’s network of roads, towns, and cities. Three different technologies are being tested as part of the Materials For Life (M4L) project, and it’s hoped that they might eventually be combined into one super-tough mixture. The materials involved would be embedded into the concrete as it was made, and they’d be able to detect and fix problems autonomously.

Representatives from industry experts, Costain, are working alongside academics from several UK universities as the study gets underway. Six concrete walls are going to be cracked and broken as necessary before the self-healing technologies are left to do their work.

The first technique involves shape-memory polymers – special materials that are able to transform their shape when heated to return to a preconfigured layout. The second technique uses a network of thin tunnels in the concrete to pump through both organic and inorganic healing agents. The third method involves tiny capsules of bacteria and healing agents embedded inside the concrete: these capsules produce calcium carbonate, which should theoretically be able to close up cracks.

Those are the hypotheses, and now they’re about to be put to the test: once the scientists see the materials in action, they’ll have a better understanding of how they could work at a larger scale. It’s estimated that around £40 billion (US61 billion) is spent each year in the UK on structure maintenance, and the majority of these structures are made of concrete.

“Our vision is to create sustainable and resilient systems that continually monitor, regulate, adapt and repair themselves without the need for human intervention,” said engineer Bob Lark from the University of Cardiff. “These self-healing materials and intelligent structures will significantly enhance durability, improve safety and reduce the extremely high maintenance costs that are spent each year. This major trial, the first of its kind in the UK, will provide us with important insights to help transfer the technologies from the lab into real-world settings.”

With self-healing and water-absorbing concrete on the way, the cities of the future should be much better equipped to take care of themselves – which means we’ll have to spend less time reporting potholes to the council.