CDC: Zika Scarier Than We First Thought.

A biologist displays Aedes mosquito cells inoculated with virus Zika in the laboratory of Biology from University of Campinas (UNICAMP), in Campinas, Brazil, February 11, 2016.

Top U.S. health officials said the Zika virus is “scarier” than initially thought and the mosquito-borne virus is now present in about 30 states. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that mosquito eradication and vaccine research may not able to catch up as summer fast approaches. According to the most recent CDC report, there are 346 cases of Zika confirmed in the continental U.S. Of those, 32 were pregnant women and seven cases were sexually transmitted. Schuchat also warned that Puerto Rico could face hundreds of thousands of Zika infections and hundreds of affected babies. The CDC’s concerns come as the Obama administration continues to pressure Congress to approve about $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Zika preparedness.

Artificial flavors are rewiring your palate and making you hate healthy food.

Author, Mark Schatzker, has put together a timeline of the artificial food industry and its most powerful ingredient: flavor, in his new book,The Dorito Effect.

“Evolution did not program us to get fat — we’ve simply tricked ourselves into craving the wrong foods,” Schatzker says on his website.

“Synthetic flavors in foods have heightened their desirability at the very same time that whole foods are losing flavor,” he says, believing that engineering food to have a longer shelf life or for prettier colors has diminished the taste.  “Now that we’ve broken that connection between flavor and nutrition by creating synthetic flavors, we have created foods that tell a thrilling but deceptive nutritional lie.”

Indeed the flavor of food has long been a way for people to indicate its health value.  Back in the day, when all we did was seek out real food, craving certain flavors meant out bodies needed that certain ingredient.  A desire for an orange, for instance, could indicate your body needs vitamin C.  If you have an orange soda, it can trick your body into thinking it’s getting the vitamin and the craving persists because you still need it.

Schatzker talks about his journey of learning the dangers of artificial flavor.  “I stopped putting sugar in my coffee, not because I was trying to cut back on sugar but because I felt like it was getting in the way of tasting the coffee. It’s like I’ve rewired my palate,” he says.

Watch the video. URL:

Stay alert to the signs of depression .

The tragic suicide of TV actress Pratyusha Banerjee last week has once again put mental health in the national spotlight. The popular view is that those who suffer from depression can be identified because they are morose, withdrawn and keep complaining about life. But that’s not how it rears its ugly head. With so many people suffering from the disease these days, it has often been referred to as the common cold of mental illness. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression.But, it’s up to you to recognise the signs in yourselves or loved ones so that you can intervene in time.


You’ve shut down. You don’t consider yourself sad and you don’t consider yourself happy. You’re forgoing feelings altogether. If you’re suffer ing from depression, you may end up being stuck in the neutral zone where you end up feeling nothing -even for the things that once made you feel happy. This zombie-like attitude towards life and your loved ones will alienate you from them and even make it hard for them to reach out to you.

Being busy

Your day is planned and crammed with things to do, leaving you with just enough time to breathe, let alone think. And that’s the real plan -you immerse yourself in so many activities (it could be work, home or partying) so that you don’t need to acknowledge your feelings. It’s not unusual if you’re depressed to try to overcompensate by excelling at something else.

Outward symptoms

Often mental illnesses can take a toll on your body too. People who suffer from depression will start to show signs of chronic pain with headaches, stomach problems, neck and back pain and nausea leading the pack of symptoms. While not every pull or ache is a sign of depression, if you have a chronic pain that you can’t find the cause to, you might want to get it checked out and consider that it could be a possible sign of depression.

Brimming over

A lot of little things are making you mad. While most people think that depression is crying, sadness and sitting alone in the dark, anger is also a common sign that you may be suffering from the mental illness.Men especially resort to anger as it is more socially acceptable for them than to sit on a couch and cry about their problems. So if every little thing that agitates you is seeing you fly off the handle, really listen to what your body is telling you before reacting.


Once upon a time, you were a responsible adult who enjoyed both work and play. But, if you’re getting involved too deep and diving in too quickly into reckless behaviour, it’s an indication of depression, especially in men. If you’re taking risks with sex, dating or drinking, you need to address the cause. If you feel that you may be depressed, you need to take it seriously. Start focusing on yourself for a change.If you feel the world around you is getting darker, reach out to family, friends or a doctor who can guide you through this time.

Scientists can store data using DNA

Scientists at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have discovered a way to store data on a synthetic “fossil” that they created using DNA.

This new metal foam is strong enough to turn bullets into dust.

Looks like Iron Man found a new material for his next outfit: researchers have come up with an ultra-tough composite metal foam (CMF) that can reduce a bullet to dust on impact. The material is lighter than metal plating too, making it ideal for the next generation of military armour for soldiers, vehicles, and tomorrow’s superheroes.

Watch the video. URL:

The video above shows a 7.62 x 63 millimetre M2 armour-piercing projectile reduced to smithereens as it hits a wall of composite metal foam. It’s part of the work of North Carolina State University engineer, Afsaneh Rabiei, who’s been working on various iterations of CMFs for several years now.

According to her most recent research, the foam can absorb about 60 to 70 percent of the total kinetic energy of a projectile like the M2, while meeting the depth of penetration and backplate deformation rules set by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). In other words, it meets the required standard for bullet-proof armour.

The indentation on the back of the CMF after the bullet strike was less than 8 mm in the latest tests, Rabiei says. To put that into context, a maximum indentation of 44 mm is allowed under NIJ guidelines, so the foam passed with flying colours. It’s worth noting that it was helped by a Kevlar backing plate.

It’s been a busy year or two for Rabiei, Matt Shipman reports for Her research has proved the effectiveness of CMFs against X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation, while earlier this year, she also demonstrated that the metal foams are twice as good at handling fire and heat as the metals they’re made of. That opens up a wide range of possible uses for the super-material.

And those uses go way beyond the military: CMF materials could eventually be used for fittings inside nuclear waste facilities, as part of spacecraft designs, or in certain bits of medical equipment. Plus CMFs are non-toxic, which means they’re simple to manufacture and recycle.

Research into composite metal foams has been going on for several decades. The material is made by mixing hollow beads of one metal with a solid matrix of another – steel within aluminium, for example. These CMFs are stronger and can absorb more energy than foams made with one type of metal and gas-filled pores.

No doubt Rabiei and her colleagues will be getting a call from Robert Downey Jr. in the future for some tips.

Doctors Confirm First Human Death Officially Caused by GMOs.

Madrid| Doctors of the Carlos III hospital confirmed this morning in a press conference, the first case of human death caused by the ingestion of genetically modified food. Juan Pedro Ramos died from anaphylaxis after eating some recently developed tomatoes containing fish genes, which provoked a violent and lethal allergic reaction. 

This surprising announcement comes after the autopsy of the 31-year old Spanish man who died  at the Madrid hospital in the beginning of January. The young man’s health rapidly deteriorated after he suffered an unexplained allergic reaction, and all the drugs used to refrain the anaphylaxis were entirely inefficient. The team of experts claims to have been able to determine that the genetically modified tomatoes that the victim ingested at lunch were the cause of the allergic reaction that caused his death.

Mr. Ramos was working as a clerk in a Madrid warehouse on January 7, when he started feeling ill just after lunch. A number of symptoms started to manifest themselves, including a violent itchy rash, some serious swelling of the throat and a drastic drop in blood pressure. The man, who was known to have allergies, quickly injected himself some epinephrine, but his health condition continued to deteriorate.

The young man was rapidly carried to the hospital by co-workers, but the medical staff was unable to identify the cause of his allergic reaction in time and none of the usual treatments or drugs seemed to work. Mr. Ramos was confirmed dead just over an hour after arriving at the hospital.

The 31-year old man appeared healthy when he visited his family for the holidays.

The young man appeared happy and healthy when this picture was taken by his roomate, less than 24 hours before he died.

The medical examiners and forensic experts at the Carlos III hospital had to execute a lot of tests and analysis before they could precisely determine what caused Mr. Ramos to die of an allergic reaction to seafood,  since all he had eaten before his death was a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with a diet cola. They were astonished when they discovered that the tomato he had ingested, not only contained some fish-related allergens, but also some antibiotic resistant genes which had prevented Mr. Ramos’ white blood cell from saving his life.

“At first we thought that there had been some form of contamination of his food, from contact with fish or seafood during the preparation” explained Dr. Rafael Pérez-Santamarina. “It was only when we tested the tomato itself that we noticed that it contained some allergens usually found in seafood. We did many different analysis and they all confirmed that the tomato was indeed the source of the allergens that killed Mr. Ramos.” 

Many experiments on GMOs had produced some horrible tumors and event death in rats and other lab animals, but Mr. Ramos the first known human death to have occured.

Many experiments on GMOs had produced some horrible tumors and event death in rats and other lab animals, but most genetically modified products on the market were considered to be harmless to humans.

The case of Mr. Ramos is the first human death officially confirmed to be linked to the ingestion of genetically modified food. It contradicts most studies on GMOs which had concluded that genetically engineered crops currently on the market were completely safe to eat.

A team led by University of Nebraska scientists had anticipated this kind of problem in 1996, when they found that a Brazil nut protein introduced to improve the nutritional quality of genetically modified soybeans was able to provoke an allergic reaction in people with Brazil nut allergies. However, this kind of problem was dismissed by most scientists as very improbable, since it could easily be avoided with proper safety testing. The soybean injected with the Brazil nut gene was indeed abandoned during development, but it seems that the genetically modified tomato that caused Mr. Ramos’ death had not been submitted to sufficient testing and the lethal risk had not been identified before it was marketed.

The Spanish ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality ordered for the tomatoes of Portugese origin which infected the young man, to be recalled and removed from stores and markets for safety reasons. More than 7000 tons of tomatoes will therefore be ceased across the country by ministry inspectors and public safety officials.

The ministry also issued a public statement about the death of Mr Ramos in which it sends its condolences to his family and adds that it will “immediately demand further research on the subject to determine if other genetically modified food products on the European market could represent a risk for the Spanish population”.

Swedish Researchers Create ‘Transparent Wood’ That Could Replace Glass In Windows

It is interesting to note that wood is still the resource we primarily rely on and use in order to build most of our stuff inspite of the advancements in technology. Given its postulates such as being cheap, renewable and strong, there are enough reasons to justify this reliance on wood. Scientists from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden have revealed that people will be able to achieve much more with wood. This is because the scientists managed to manufacture transparent wood. Thus, the world would have access to wood that is moreaffordable and tougher.

Transparent wood

Lars Berglund, the lead researcher of the latest study mentioned that this transparent wood is fit for solar cells which cost significantly lesser than the alternatives and are renewable. This sort of wood is manufactured as the lignin is stripped from the material. This does not exactly result in see-through wood but the wood does appear “beautifully white”. Once the white wood is embedded within a transparent polymer by the name of Prepolymerized Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA).

kth transparent wood

kth transparent wood

This is not an entirely new revelation as wood materials have been transparent prior to this but that was on an extremely small scale. The latest breakthrough paves way for much wider range of applications, though. Berglund added that the likelihood of the creation of larger transparent materials has not been seriously considered in regards to the use of solar cells. This would result in windows which are hardly breakable. Plus, while light would go through, your privacy would remain fully intact.

The team of scientists is currently striving to scale up the process of manufacturing in order toensure its affordability and ease of use. They also plan on experimenting with various sorts of wood in an attempt to enhance its transparency. With the kind of impressive mechanical postulates it possesses, it would be inexplicable not to pursue this interesting prospect.

For the first time ever, scientists have imaged the brain on LSD .

In a world-first, scientists in the UK have imaged the effects of LSD on the human brain, and we now have an unprecedented view into the effects of one of the most powerful drugs ever created.

These images not only reveal that the potent hallucinogen activates regions all over the brain – and not just the visual cortex, as previously suspected – but it shows how regions that are usually separated start signalling to each other in response to the drug, to produce some intense effects.

The experiment was led by David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and the UK government’s former drugs advisor, who was sacked in 2009 for his criticism of its tougher laws on cannabis.

Together with his colleague, Robin Carhart-Harris, Nutt recruited 20 healthy volunteers who were willing to get super high for science, and injected them with 75 micrograms (mcg) of LSD – or 0.075 mg – on one day, and a placebo on another.

As you can see in the images above and below, the effects of the drug ran all over the brain, and connectivity between regions was altered dramatically. The team used three different brain imaging techniques – arterial spin labelling, resting state MRI, and magnetoencephalography – to figure out what was going on.

They found that the participants’ visual processing was no longer restricted to the visual cortex at the base of the brain – all kinds of regions contributed to what the participants ‘saw’, which is pretty odd, seeing as their eyes were closed.

“We observed brain changes under LSD that suggested our volunteers were ‘seeing with their eyes shut’ – albeit they were seeing things from their imagination rather than from the outside world,” explains Carhart-Harris. “We saw that many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD – even though the volunteers’ eyes were closed.”


Not only that, but regions that usually don’t signal to each other suddenly started connecting, while regions that usually form a network became segregated, Ian Sample reports for The Guardian.

This could explain why LSD is associated with intense, dreamlike images and a sense of ‘oneness’ with the Universe, but also a loss of personal identity, known as ego dissolution.

“Normally our brain consists of independent networks that perform separate specialised functions, such as vision, movement and hearing – as well as more complex things like attention,” says Carhart-Harris. “However, under LSD the separateness of these networks breaks down and instead you see a more integrated or unified brain.”

While this might all seem like just a bit of fun with drugs, the researchers behind the experiment are taking it very seriously. Nutt says neuroscientists have waited 50 years for this moment, which was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign.

“This is to neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics,” he toldThe Guardian. “We didn’t know how these profound effects were produced. It was too difficult to do. Scientists were either scared or couldn’t be bothered to overcome the enormous hurdles to get this done.”

The researchers say it’s so important to get a better understanding of the incredibly intense and unique effects of LSD – or Lysergic acid diethyl amide – on the brain, because without it, we’ll never realise the potential therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs for people with psychiatric disorders, such as depression and addiction, or maybe even asthma.

“We are finally unveiling the brain mechanisms underlying the potential of LSD, not only to heal, but also to deepen our understanding of consciousness itself,” Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation in the UK, which partly funded the study, said in a press statement.

Love smoking hookah? It’s not as safe as you think .

The clinical data showed that, compared to nonsmokers, waterpipe smokers coughed more frequently and produced more sputum.

Smoking hookah can damage the capillaries. (Photo: Thinkstock)Smoking hookah can damage the capillaries.Turns out, hookah isn’t that safe as a new study has suggested that even light waterpipe smoking harms lungs.

Ronald Crystal from Weill Cornell Medicine and colleagues assessed the effects of waterpipe smoking on study participants using clinical and biological parameters.

 The clinical data showed that, compared to non-smokers, waterpipe smokers coughed more frequently and produced more sputum.

Biological changes were observed in “marked changes in the cells lining the airways” of waterpipe smokers. In addition, the researchers noted an increase in the circulation of small particles shed by endothelial cells in the lungs.

“This is indicative of ongoing damage to the capillaries,” said Dr Crystal. Together, the clinical and biological changes associated with light-waterpipe use are signs of early lung damage.

The authors wrote that compared to one cigarette, one waterpipe session exposes the smoker to 2 to 4 times the amount of nicotine; 7 to 11 times the amount of carbon monoxide; 100 times more tar; 17 times the amount of formaldehyde; 2 to 5 times the amount of high molecular weight carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons; and 3 times the a

Mass coral bleaching now affecting half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Climate change and strong El Niño cause hundreds of kilometres of reef to bleach, as higher temperatures stress the coral

Bleached coral at Lizard Island
Coral bleaching has caused bleached patches across most of the Great Barrier Reef.

The mass coral bleaching event smashing the Great Barrier Reef has severely affected more than half its length and caused patches of bleaching in most areas, according to scientists conducting an extensive aerial survey of the damage.

“The good news with my last flight is that I found 50 reefs that weren’t bleached, so that may be the southern boundary,” said Terry Hughes from James Cook University. Hughes is the head of the national coral bleaching task force, which has been conducting flights over the length of the reef, mapping bleached areas and recording the severity of the damage.

Climate change and a strong El Niño have caused hundreds of kilometres of the reef to bleach, as the higher water temperatures stress the coral, and they expel their symbiotic algae. If the bleaching is bad enough, or the temperatures remain high for long enough, the corals die, putting the future of reefs at risk.

The mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef is part of what the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has called the third global bleaching event – the first occurred in 1998.

Initial reports suggested only the most northern and remote areas of the Great Barrier Reef were bleaching, but as aerial surveys have continued, scientists have struggled to find a southern boundary.

The latest find of a stretch of unaffected reefs around Mackay was a small piece of good news, Hughes said.

But he said its significane would be unclear until reefs further south were examined.

“It may be a false southern boundary,” Hughes said. The reefs around Mackay have unusually large tides, which might have pulled in cooler water and saved the coral there.

So far, the surveys reveal there are severely bleached reefs almost as far south as Cairns, and patchy bleaching almost to Mackay.

Morgan Pratchett from James Cook University said there was some bleaching even further south. “There is reasonable levels of bleaching as far south as the Keppels, which is even more than we suspected initially,” Pratchett said.

Hughes planned to fly over another 150 reefs, creating a total of about 900 surveyed. Only then will the group have a complete picture of how bad the bleaching is.

The next step will be to examine how much of that bleached coral has died. “If the corals are severely bleached, then a lot will die. If they are lightly bleached, which is the case with a lot of reefs south of Townsville, then they’ll regain their colour over the next couple of months and there won’t be much mortality,” Hughes said.

Two weeks ago, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reported half the coral in the northern parts of the reef were dead. Hughes said that was consistent with reports from divers north of Port Douglas.

Hughes said this was by far the worst bleaching event to have hit the Great Barrier Reef. He said it was three to four times worse than in 1998 or the second great bleaching in 2002.

Last year, the Great Barrier Reef narrowly escaped being listed as “in danger” by Unesco, even though environmental groups said it clearly met the criteria.

Hughes said the “outstanding universal value” of the reef was now “severely compromised”.

Ariane Wilkinson, a lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, said the bleaching might cause Unesco to reconsider its decision.

“[Unesco] weren’t scheduled to examine the reef this year but in light of the terrible bleaching it is entirely possible that they may decide to look at the reef,” she said.

“If the World Heritage system is to have any value, it must address the most serious threats to the most iconic examples of world heritage,” she said. “If any site falls into this category, it is the … Great Barrier Reef.”