Scientists Reverse DNA Damage in Mice. Human Trials are Next. 

DNA is a critical part of the cell, it is the instruction manual for building cells. Whilst DNA is well protected within the cell nucleus damage does occur, therefore DNA repair is absolutely essential for cell function, cell survival and the prevention of cancer. The good news is cells are able to repair damaged DNA but the bad news is that this ability declines with aging for reasons as yet to be fully understood.

An exciting new study by researchers led by Dr. David Sinclair at Harvard Medical School shows a part of the process that enables cells to repair damaged DNA involving the signalling molecule NAD. This offers insight into how the body repairs DNA and why that repair system declines as we age. Before we get into the new research study let’s take a look at how DNA damage relates to aging and what NAD is.

Genomic instability a driver of aging?

The stability and integrity of our DNA is challenged on a daily basis by various external physical, chemical and biological agents as well as by internal threats such as replication errors, reactive oxygen species and other factors.

Some aging theories such as the Hallmarks of aging implicate DNA damage as one of the primary driving processes of aging contributing to genomic instability[1]. Various premature aging diseases such as progeria are the consequence of accumulated DNA damage, however the relationship between progeria and normal aging is as yet unresolved. This is partly due to the fact that the different progeroid syndromes only manifest certain aspects of aging seen in normally aging people.

This means that this new study is very important in helping us to understand the relationship between DNA damage and aging.

What is NAD?

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a dinucleotide, meaning that it consists of two nucleotides joined by their phosphate groups. One nucleotide contains an adenine base and the other contains nicotinamide. NAD is found in two forms, an oxidized and reduced form abbreviated as NAD+ and NADH respectively. As part of its role in metabolism, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide supports redox reactions, the moving of electrons from one reaction to another. The transfer of electrons is the primary function of NAD but it has other roles too.

Found in every cell in our body, NAD helps to suppress genes that accelerate the aging process and is a fundamental part of our metabolic system. NAD is associated with the sirtuins, which are closely linked to longevity in mammals and other organisms. Its control over cell damaging oxidation is also well documented. NAD declines during the aging process due to being actively destroyed by inflammatory signalling as shown in a 2013 study by Schultz and Sinclair[2].

So what’s the big news?

This new study demonstrates a previously unknown role for the NAD signalling molecule as a master regulator of protein to protein interaction during DNA repair. It also gives us valuable insight into why the body’s ability to repair DNA damage begins to fail as we age[3].

These experiments conducted in mice demonstrate that treatment with a NAD precursor known as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) can mitigate and resist age-related DNA damage as well as the damage resulting from exposure to radiation. Whilst there is no guarantee that these results will translate from mice to humans due to differences in biology, if they do it is of great interest.

Building on previous research

David Sinclair and his team already demonstrated that NMN can extend the lifespan of mice in a previous study[4] and reverses loss of mitochondrial function with age[5]. The team began this new study by examining the various proteins and molecules they believed were involved in the aging process.

They knew that NAD, whose levels fall with age, increases the activity of the SIRT1 protein (one of the Sirtuin family) and can delay some aspects of aging, extending the lifespan in yeast, flies and mice. They also knew that SIRT1 and PARP1, a protein that is involved in DNA repair, both consume NAD during their activation.

The team also looked at a protein called DBC1, a common protein found in humans and many other organisms from bacteria upwards. Studies had shown that DBC1 was able to inhibit the activity of SIRT1, so they believed it might also influence PARP1 given their similar roles, and wanted to see if it was connected to NAD. It turns out they were correct and the study revealed this link.

The research group tested the relationship between the three proteins by measuring protein-to-proteins interaction within human kidney cells. They discovered that PARP1 and DBC1 actually bond strongly to each other but, when NAD levels increase that bonding is reduced. Simply put, the more NAD in a cell the fewer bonds DCB1 and PARP1 can form, freeing up PARP1 so it can repair damaged DNA. They also took this further, inhibited NAD and noted the number of DBC1 to PARP1 bonds increased. This shows that reduced levels of NAD strongly influence the ability of cells to repair DNA damage.

These findings suggest that as NAD falls during the aging process the less NAD there is to prevent DBC1 and PARP1 bonding, which is harmful to DNA repair. The result of this ultimately causes DNA damage to go unrepaired and accumulate over time, leading to cell damage, mutations, loss of tissue, cell function, and organ failure.

Getting down to the nitty gritty

That in itself was interesting enough to have discovered this previously unknown function of NAD, but the researchers wanted to understand exactly how NAD was doing this. To find out how NAD prevents DBC1 from bonding with PARP1 they examined a region of DBC1 known as NHD. NHD is a pocket shaped structure common to around 80,000 different proteins in a huge number of species, and its function has been a mystery to scientists. The team showed that this NHD region is a NAD binding site and in DBC1, NAD binds to this region and prevents DBC1 from bonding with PARP1 to prevent DNA repair.

Interestingly NHD is so common in across species it suggests that this NAD binding may play a similar role preventing harmful protein interactions in many species including humans.

Moving to mice

Next the researchers treated old mice with NMN, but before they did they checked the protein levels in the mice. As predicted the old mice had lower levels of NAD in their livers, as well as lower PARP1 levels and a larger number of bonded PARP1 and DBC1 proteins. However once given NMN in their drinking water for just one week, the old mice showed significant improvement in NAD and PARP1 levels. Tests showed the NAD levels in the livers of the old mice increased similar to those observed in younger mice. PARP1 levels were a similar story and PARP1 and DBC1 bonded proteins were reduced. The researchers also recorded a reduction in biomarkers for DNA damage suggesting that DNA repair had been improved.

Finally the researchers exposed mice to radiation to damage their DNA. They discovered that mice treated with NMN before radiation exposure showed lower levels of DNA damage. The mice also did not display the characteristic changes to blood counts, such as changes to lymphocyte and hemoglobin levels typically seen after radiation exposure. Interestingly, mice treated post radiation also enjoyed similar protective effects from NMN treatment.

Of mice and men

Human trials with NMN are anticipated to begin within the next six months according to researchers and the potential discoveries are significant for our understanding of the biology of aging.

In conclusion the results show the mechanism behind DNA repair and cell death caused by DNA damage. Should further animal studies and human clinical results confirm the findings, this may pave the way for therapies that repair DNA damage due to radiation exposure from sources such as radiotherapy and environment and of course, for treating age-related decline.



[1] López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M., & Kroemer, G. (2013). The hallmarks of aging. Cell, 153(6), 1194-1217.
[2] Schultz, M. B., & Sinclair, D. A. (2016). Why NAD+ Declines during Aging: It’s Destroyed. Cell metabolism, 23(6), 965-966.
[3] Li, J., Bonkowski, M. S., Moniot, S., Zhang, D., Hubbard, B. P., Ling, A. J., … & Aravind, L. (2017). A conserved NAD+ binding pocket that regulates protein-protein interactions during aging. Science, 355(6331), 1312-1317.
[4] North, B. J., Rosenberg, M. A., Jeganathan, K. B., Hafner, A. V., Michan, S., Dai, J., … & van Deursen, J. M. (2014). SIRT2 induces the checkpoint kinase BubR1 to increase lifespan. The EMBO journal, e201386907.
[5] Gomes, A. P., Price, N. L., Ling, A. J., Moslehi, J. J., Montgomery, M. K., Rajman, L., … & Mercken, E. M. (2013). Declining NAD+ induces a pseudohypoxic state disrupting nuclear-mitochondrial communication during aging. Cell, 155(7), 1624-1638.


First Commercialized GMO Maize Was Toxic to Farm Animals

Genetically engineered (GE) food comes from crops in which genes from one species have been integrated into another species — even between species in which this is biologically impossible in nature. The end result is a gene sequence that would never have occurred naturally.

There are two main types of GE crops:

  1. Herbicide-tolerant crops: Plants engineered to withstand heavy herbicide spraying without sustaining damage, such as Roundup Ready crops
  2. Pesticide-producing crops: So-called Bt plants are engineered to produce their own internal pesticide, so that when a bug takes a bite of the plant, it dies

Trying to control genetic changes via artificial modification is a dangerous game. An organism’s genome is not static but fluid, and its biological functions are interconnected with its environment and vice versa.

Contrary to what the industry would like you to believe, the process of genetic engineering is imprecise at best, and is riddled with unintended and often unforeseeable consequences.

Of course that is about to change with the new technology, CRISPR-Cas9 that I reviewed last month. Once this technology is implemented, we will need to pay very careful attention to what the researchers are planning.

Genetic Engineering Is Riddled With Unintended Consequences

Viruses are typically used to genetically engineer the genes into a new species. These are known as viral transgenes, and there’s a profound lack of understanding of how this process actually works and what the ultimate ramifications are.

Compared to natural genetic modification (vertical gene transfer), artificial genetic modification is inherently hazardous because it lacks the precision of the natural process, enabling genes to be transferred between species that would never have been otherwise exchanged.

Artificial genetic modification uses horizontal gene transfer, which involves injecting a gene from one species into a completely different and naturally incompatible species, yielding unexpected and often unpredictable results — some of which may pose a hazard to animal and human health.

Approval Does Not Mean GE Crops Have a Proven Safety Record

In 1995, Novartis (which later became Syngenta) received approval to cultivate the GE maize known as Bt1761 in the U.S. It was the first Bt corn commercialized for animal feed. Due to controversies, it never gained much market success and the registration was allowed to lapse in 2001.2

In Europe, it was officially withdrawn from the market in 2007. Last month, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini published a feeding study on this particular Bt corn, showing it was in fact toxic to cows over the long-term.

Prior to its introduction, Novartis had conducted just one feeding test on four cows for the duration of two weeks.3 One of the animals died one week into the test with electrolyte and mucosal problems. No scientific explanation could be found for the death, and the cow was removed from the protocol.

It’s really important to realize that animal feeding trials are not required to be done prior to the commercial release of a GMO, and if they are done, they’re typically extremely small, and very short in duration, like this one was.

Long-Term Studies Keep Finding Serious Health Problems With GMOs and Associated Chemicals

As an expert for the French government within the Biomolecular Engineering Commission, Séralini had access to the industry dossier on Bt176, and expressed strong objections to and concern over the lack of long-term feeding tests — the kind that have since become Séralini’s own hallmark specialty.

As you may recall, Séralini produced the first-ever lifetime feeding study on rats in 2012. The 2-year-long study evaluated lifelong effects of a Monsanto-produced GE corn that is prevalent in the U.S. food supply.

The rats developed massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage, and early death. The major onslaught of diseases set in during the 13th month, which in human terms equate to about the age of 43, assuming that the average person lives to the age of 80.

Séralini has also investigated the health effects of glyphosate and Roundup.

In a study4,5 published last year, he found that long-term exposure to ultra-low amounts of Roundup — which is used on both GE and conventional crops in ample amounts — may cause tumors, along with liver and kidney damage in rats.

First GE Corn Shown to Be Toxic to Cows in the Long Term

In 1997, Gottfried Glöckner, an award-winning dairy farmer in Germany, became the first farmer to grow and feed Bt176 corn to his prized Holstein cows. The test continued until 2002.

According to Séralini, this was the longest running and most detailed observation of farm animals ever performed for a GE crop.

Since 1986, when Glöckner took over the farm, he’d had no cases of serious disease on his farm. That all changed once he started feeding his cows Bt176 in 1997. As noted on Séralini’s website:6

“When partial paralysis (paresis) accompanied by great fatigue, and problems in the kidneys and mucosal membranes arose in the animals, followed by death in 10 percent of cases, microbial causes were sought. All kinds of analyses were conducted …

At this time, the dose of GMO Bt maize, which had been progressively introduced, had reached 40 percent of the diet. By 2002, the farmer had become convinced that Bt maize was the cause of the diseases. He sued Syngenta and had partial compensation for his losses7

After all these court cases ended, Prof. Séralini gained access to veterinary records and to very complete archived data for each cow … For the first time ever, an analysis of these data has been published8 … New scientific data on Bt toxins and a thorough study of the records show that this GMO Bt maize is most probably toxic over the long term.

This study reveals once again the urgent need for specific labeling of the identity and quantity of GMOs, especially in food and feed. Long-term testing of GM food and the pesticides they are designed to contain must be carried out and made public. This is now more essential than ever.”

The Higher the GMO Content, the Greater the Health Risks

As Glöckner increased the amount of Bt176 corn in the cows’ feed, gradually going from 2 to 40 percent over the course of two years, the worse his cows fared. At the outset, 70 percent of his cows produced high yields of milk, which is considered normal.

Once the GMO content of the feed reached 40 percent, a mere 40 percent of his cows were high-yielding. In 2000, milk tested positive for the Bt176 DNA specific fragment, which under European law meant the milk had to be labeled as coming from GE-fed animals.

Peak mortality was reached in 2002, when 10 percent of his cows died after suffering a long period of partial paralysis. Thirty percent of the herd was sick with a variety of ailments.

A number of cows were diagnosed with liver disease, mucosa problems, irregular heart function, mammary gland breaks (which is exactly as disturbing as it sounds: the study includes pictures), and general “abnormal behavior” suggesting chronic lack of energy.

As the GMO ratio peaked, fertility also began to drop significantly. Some of the animals tested positive for Chlamydia, but had no visible infection. Overall, kidney function appeared to be the most affected.

Because the farmer introduced new cows to his herd here and there to replace those who had died or were too sick to be milked, the toxic effects may actually be underestimated, as the replacement animals had not previously eaten the GMO feed, and were therefore exposed to it for a much shorter duration.

Indeed, Séralini points out that toxic effects such as these would likely be missed under common conditions on factory farms with high and rapid animal turnover for that very reason. Especially when the feed is not specifically labeled, identifying the type of GMO and precise amount.

Pesticide-Producing Plants May Also Harm Human Health

Like other Bt crops, Bt176 was genetically engineered to produce Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt toxin) — a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. Bt plants are engineered to produce this pesticide internally, so it’s present in every cell of the plant, from root to tip, and cannot be washed off.

Previous in vitro experiments9,10 have shown that the Bt toxin these plants produce affects human cells, both alone and in combination with glyphosate-based herbicide residues.

Pesticidal crystal proteins Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac, two subspecies of the Bt toxin, were tested on cells from the embryonic kidney cell line 293, looking at specific biomarkers indicating cell death. Concentrations ranged from 10 parts per billion (ppb) up to 100 parts per million (ppm).

Cry1Ab caused cell death starting at 100 ppm. Roundup alone was found to cause necrosis (cell death resulting from acute injury) and apoptosis (cellular “suicide” or self-destruction) starting at 50 ppm, which the researchers noted is “far below agricultural dilutions.”

According to the authors: “In these results, we argue that modified Bt toxins are not inert on nontarget human cells, and that they can present combined side effects with other residues of pesticides specific to GM plants.”

Monsanto and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed the Bt toxin produced inside the plant would be completely safe for human consumption because it would be destroyed in the human digestive system. This has been proven false more than once.

Research11 published in 2007 found that antibiotic resistance marker genes from Bt176 maize were able to survive for longer periods in gastric juices taken from patients on anti-acid drug treatment, thereby potentially increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance. According to the authors:

“Our data indicate the possibility that in particular cases the survival time could be so delayed that, as a consequence, some traits of DNA could reach the intestine. In general, this aspect must be considered for vulnerable consumers (people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases related to altered digestive functionality, physiological problems or drug side-effects) in the risk analysis usually referred to healthy subjects.”

Then, in 2011, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 percent of non-pregnant women.12 It’s quite clear that Bt toxin is not destroyed when passing through your digestive system, and that it can bioaccumulate in your body.

According to one study,13 Bt toxin may produce a wide variety of immune responses, including elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, typically associated with allergies and infections, and an increase in cytokines, associated with allergic and inflammatory responses — conditions that have markedly risen in prevalence since the advent of Bt crops.

Transgenic Bt Crops Promote Resistant Pests and Destroys Soil Biology

One of the selling points and touted benefits of GE crops like Bt cotton and Bt corn is reduced pesticide usage, as the plant itself will kill any bug that chews on it. As with so many other GMO claims, this one cannot stand up to scrutiny. For starters, just like exaggerated herbicide use has led to the rapid development of resistant superweeds, so have Bt plants led to the emergence of resistant pests.

According to The Times of India,14 farmers in Punjab and Haryana are seeing significant losses of their Bt cotton crops to the whitefly. To address the problem, increasing amounts of pesticides have been applied. During an outbreak in 2002 farmers applied so much pesticide to fend off the whiteflies that soil and groundwater are thought to have been affected.

Many now blame the exaggerated use of pesticides on the clustering of cancer cases being detected among those living in India’s cotton belt. Research15 has also shown that Bt crops, just like topical pesticides and herbicides, alter and destroys soil microbiology. According to the authors:

“Our data showed that the cultivation of Bt maize significantly increased the saturated to unsaturated lipid ratios in soils which appeared to negatively affect microbial activity.” 

Beware: Bt Toxin Produced by Bt Plants Is Not Counted Toward Total Pesticide Exposure

Last but not least, it’s well worth noting that the Bt toxin produced in these Bt crops are NOT included as part of the total human pesticide exposure. This despite the fact that Bt plants are actually registered with the EPA as a pesticide.16 This also helps explain why Bt plants damage the soil just like topical pesticides do.

Ignoring Bt toxin produced by Bt plants, as if it never were to reach a dinner plate, is a gross misrepresentation of facts and outright fraudulent propaganda. How can they claim reductions in pesticide exposure as a result of Bt plants when every single cell of the plant contains it?

And how can they not include the plants in the pesticide usage data when the plant itself is registered as a pesticide? The failure to count the toxin inside the plant, and only counting the pesticides applied topically, is a significant loophole that makes Bt plants appear to provide a benefit that in reality simply isn’t true.

In reality, Bt exposure has likely increased exponentially with the introduction of Bt plants. Why? Because the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the topical spray, and while topically applied Bt toxin biodegrades in sunlight and can be washed off, the Bt toxin in these GE plants does not degrade, nor can it be removed or cleaned off the food since it’s integrated into every cell of the plant.

Besides that, Bt toxin in GE soy, cotton, and corn has also been exempted from residue tolerance levels by the EPA, so absolutely no one is looking for or paying any attention to the amount of Bt toxin you’re exposed to via the food you eat!

How to Avoid Bt Crops

So, if you want to avoid eating Bt plants, which foods end up on the “buy certified organic” list? The following list shows which Bt crops have received approval for commercialization in which countries as of 2013.17,18 (A Bt poplar tree has also been approved for planting in China.)

Cotton is of course not a food, but is used for cotton clothing. The genetic engineering of cotton is one reason why I recommend buying clothing made with organic cotton.

Bt crop Country
Cotton Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, European Union (EU), India, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and United States of America (USA)
Eggplant Bangladesh
Maize/Corn Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, EU, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Uruguay
Potato (“Atlantic NewLeaf potato”19,20) Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russian Federation, South Korea, and USA
Rice China and Iran
Soybean Argentina, Australia, Brazil,21 Canada, China, Colombia, EU, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Uruguay
Tomato22,23,24 Canada, Chile, and USA

Watch the whistle blowing video by Dr Vandana Shiva. URL:

It’s not just hormones: What’s really happening in the minds of teenage girls?

A teenage girl is a force of nature, with emotions so powerful they shock even her. In this exclusive excerpt, psychotherapist Lisa Damour uses neuroscience to help parents – and anyone perplexed by teenage girls – understand what’s really going on in their heads

When I was in my first semester of graduate school, the professor teaching my psychological testing course handed me a stack of Rorschach inkblot tests to score. Before sending me on my way, he offhandedly said, “Double-check the age of the person whose test you are scoring. If it’s a teenager, but you think it’s a grown-up, you’ll conclude that you have a psychotic adult. But that’s just a normal teenager.”

Twenty years later, I don’t need to score inkblot tests to know that healthy teenage development can look pretty irrational. Parents tell me about it every day. They describe how a minor annoyance – such as when a girl finds out that the jeans she wants are still riding out the rinse cycle – can turn into an emotional earthquake that knocks everyone in the house off balance.

The sudden force of a teenager’s feelings can catch parents off guard because, between the ages of six and 11, children go through a phase of development that psychologists call latency . As the term implies, the mercurial moods of early childhood simmer down and girls are pretty easygoing until they become teenagers and their emotions kick up again. Recent developments in brain science offer new insight into why latency ends when it does. Though we used to assume that the brain stopped developing somewhere around age 12, we now know that the brain remodels dramatically during the teenage years. The renovation project follows the pattern in which the brain grew in the womb. It starts with the lower, primal portions (the limbic system) then moves to the upper, outer areas (the cortex), where the functions that separate humans from other animals live.

Updates to the limbic system heighten the brain’s emotional reactions with research indicating that the feeling centres beneath the cortex are actually more sensitive in teens than in children or adults. For example, one straightforward study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to watch teenage brains respond, in real time, to emotional input. The research team showed images of fearful, happy and calm faces to children, teens and adults while monitoring the activity of the amygdala, a key player in the emotional reactions of the limbic system. Compared to the brain activity of children and adults, the teens’ amygdalas reacted strongly to fearful or happy faces. In other words, emotional input rings like a gong for teenagers and a chime for everyone else.

With the lower-to-higher remodelling of the brain, the frontal cortex – the part of the brain that exerts a calming, rational influence – doesn’t come fully online until adulthood. This means that limbic system reactions outstrip frontal cortex controls. Put simply, intense emotions burst through and introduce you, and your daughter, to a new period of emotional upheaval.

Adults often tell teens that their feelings are at full blast because of “hormones.” This usually doesn’t go over very well, plus it’s probably inaccurate. Despite the obvious coincidence between the beginnings of puberty – with its acne, growth spurts, and dawning smelliness – and the intensification of your daughter’s emotions, research suggests that the impact of pubertal hormones on teenagers’ moods is indirect, at best.

In fact, studies find that hormones respond to, or may even be trumped by, other factors that influence your daughter’s mood, such as stressful events or the quality of her relationship with you.

In other words, the changes in your daughter’s brain and the events that occur around her are more likely to shape her mood than the hormonal shifts occurring inside of her.

Here’s the bottom line: What your daughter broadcasts matches what she actually experiences. Really, it’s just that intense, so take her feelings seriously, regardless of how overblown they might seem. Parents who are surprised by their daughter’s dramatic ups and downs can lose sight of the fact that she is pretty shocked, too.

So if your teenage daughter is developing normally, you are living with someone who secretly worries that she is crazy and who might have the psychological assessment results of a psychotic adult. And we might as well add that you are living with a girl whose key support system – her tribe – consists of peers who are also as reactive and erratic as they will ever be. Your daughter works hard every day to harness powerful and unpredictable emotions so that she can get on with doing everything else she means to do.

To manage all of that intensity and to keep from feeling crazy, she’ll recruit your help. Depending on the moment, she might ask for your support directly, she might unload her feelings on you or she might find a way for you to have a feeling on her behalf.

Sometimes you’ll recognize the role you are being asked to play, other times you’ll only appreciate your part in retrospect, if at all. Understanding your daughter’s efforts to harness emotions will allow you to maintain your sanity while you’re busy helping her feel confident in her own.

Teenagers often manage their feelings by dumping the uncomfortable ones on their parents, so don’t be surprised if you find that the arrival of adolescence comes with a surge in complaining. No parents enjoy listening to their daughter’s endless stream of complaints, but it’s a lot easier to stand if we appreciate that her griping serves a valuable purpose.

Complaining to you allows your daughter to bring the best of herself to school. Instead of being rude or aggressive toward peers or teachers at school, your daughter contains her irritation and waits until she is safely in your company to express it.

If she can hold it together all day at school, you might wonder why your daughter can’t hold it together a little bit longer so that she can also be pleasant with you. As it turns out, willpower is a limited resource. By the time they get to the end of the day, there’s just no energy left to contain their annoyance, and the complaining begins.

Girls who get a chance to talk about the abundant frustrations of their day usually feel better once they’ve unloaded their distress on you. Any adult who has spent dinnertime grumbling about a co-worker, neighbour, or boss understands that sharing one’s true feelings at home makes it a lot easier to be charming out in public. Teenagers are no different. Having used you as their emotional dumping ground, they are prepared to return to school and play the part of the good citizen.

Indeed, they may be able to act as a good citizen at school precisely because they are spending some of their time imagining the colourful complaints they will share once their school day has ended.

When your daughter complains, listen quietly and remind yourself that you are providing her with a way to unload the stress of her day. Many parents find that they want to do something as they listen to their daughter’s distress – to offer advice, point out their daughter’s misconceptions, make a plan to address her troubles, and so on. Do not feel pressed to solve your daughter’s problems; you’ve probably tried and already found that she routinely rejects your suggestions, even the especially brilliant ones.

If you really want to help your daughter manage her distress, help her see the difference between complaining and venting. Complaining generally communicates a sense that “someone should fix this,” while venting communicates that “I’ll feel better when someone who cares about me hears me out.”

Most of what teens complain about can’t be fixed. No magic wand can make her peers, teachers, coaches, locker location, or homework any less irritating. Better for her to do a little less complaining about such realities and a little more venting. In doing so, she moves away from the childlike idea that the world should bend to her wishes to the adult idea that life comes with many unavoidable bumps.

How do you get her to do this?

When she starts rolling out the complaints, consider asking, “Do you want my help with what you’re describing, or do you just need to vent?”

If she wants your help, she’ll tell you. Even better, she might take your advice having actually asked for it.

If she wants to vent, she’ll tell you and you can sit back and know that just by listening you are offering meaningful support. More important, she’ll start to learn that sometimes, just by listening, you are providing all the help she needs. Your daughter may be suspicious of your motives the first time you offer her the opportunity for unbridled venting. If she has grown used to getting (and, of course, reflexively rejecting) your advice when she complains, she may wonder what you’re up to. But stick with it and be clear that you believe in the healing powers of “just venting.” Soon, she’ll come around. Don’t expect that venting will – or should – fully replace complaining. But do take advantage of opportunities to help your daughter distinguish between problems that can and should be solved and problems that are best addressed by sharing them with someone who cares.

If the content of your daughter’s venting strikes you as totally unfair and you feel compelled to weigh in, consider saying, “I have a different take on the situation. Do you want to hear it?” Should she say yes, carry on. Should she say no, bite your tongue and find comfort in the knowledge that your daughter is now aware that she shouldn’t mistake your silence for a tacit endorsement of her views.

Congratulate yourself when you can get your daughter to advance to venting, because there will be times when you won’t even be able to get how she expresses her displeasure up to the level of complaining (much less venting). These are the days when she simply takes out her annoyance on anyone in her path – a particularly unpleasant, and common, form of using you (your other children, or the family dog) as an emotional dumping ground. If your daughter feels that she must punish your family for her bad day, you might let one or two cutting comments pass. But, if it becomes clear that she plans to be wretched all evening, go ahead and say, “You may not be in a good mood, but you are not allowed to mistreat us. If you want to talk about what’s bugging you, I’m all ears. If you’re going to be salty all night, don’t do it here.”

Externalization is a technical term describing how teenagers sometimes manage their feelings by getting their parents to have their feelings instead. In other words, they toss you an emotional hot potato.

Your adolescent daughter doesn’t wake up one day and say to herself, “I think I’ll start handing off my uncomfortable feelings to my parents.” The decision to use externalization for emotional relief occurs outside her conscious awareness. Unconscious processes can be powerful. If we could hold up a microphone to your daughter’s unconscious mind, it would say, “You know, I’ve had a long day of being upset about this poor grade I just got back – the whole thing has become exhausting. I don’t have a solution to the problem, but I need a break from being upset. I’ll leave the test where Dad will surely find it so that he can be upset about it. Now, he might try to get me to remain upset about this grade, so I’ll tell him he’s overreacting and walk away – that should keep the upset feeling in his lap and out of mine for a while.”

Externalization happens when your daughter wants to get rid of an uncomfortable feeling. And not just anyone will take on her uncomfortable feeling; it has to be someone who really loves her. Externalization is a profound form of empathy.

It goes beyond feeling with your daughter to the point of actually feeling something on her behalf . When teens complain, they own their discomfort, will often accept your empathy, and may even allow you to help them address the source of their misery. When they externalize, they want you to accept ownership of the offending feeling and will prevent you from giving it back.

It’s the difference between “Mom, I want to tell you how uncomfortable this very hot potato I’m holding is and see if you’ve got any good ideas for how I might manage it” and “Mom, take this hot potato, I don’t want to hold it any more. And hang on to it for a while.”

Externalization is a strange and subtle process that helps make adolescence manageable – for your daughter. Teenagers spend the better part of their time with peers who are also trying to harness their emotions and may not be able to offer useful support.

Put another way, how do you get your best friend to take your hot potato if she can barely manage the potatoes she’s already got?

When teenagers feel overwhelmed by their feelings and need to do something, they find a loving parent and start handing out potatoes. Lucky for your girl, but not so lucky for you. Parents on the receiving end of an externalization often don’t know what hit them.

For the most part, there’s not much that you can do about externalizations. You will rarely, if ever, be able to identify an externalization at the moment it occurs. And talking with your daughter about her behaviour won’t prevent her from doing it. Teens don’t consciously decide to externalize, so they can’t consciously decide not to. The process unfolds as rapidly for her as it does for you.

Even if you could talk your daughter into taking responsibility for all of her difficult feelings all of the time, would you want to? Your willingness to hold your daughter’s emotional hot potatoes from time to time is a thankless and charitable act, but it will help her get through some of the roughest patches of her adolescence. Given the opportunity to unload their discomfort, most teens will gather their resources and work through what went wrong, or discover, with the benefit of time, that the problem comes down to size on its own.

If you find yourself compelled into radical action after a brief but painful encounter with your daughter, I’ve got two words for you: do nothing. Though a teenager will experience her fight with a friend as a full-blown crisis, it’s our job as adults to remember that it’s not.

Talking with a trustworthy adult about what’s happening with your teenager is usually the perfect salve to the discomfort of being on the receiving end of an externalization. By sharing the situation with someone who isn’t holding an emotional hot potato, most parents start to see things more clearly and to regain an adult perspective on the problem. Sometimes another adult isn’t available or the content of the externalization feels too sensitive to be shared. Under these conditions – and absent pressing safety concerns – wait at least a day before taking any action. Waiting gives the hot potato time to cool and gives you and your daughter time to craft a rational plan.

And you’d be surprised by how rarely a plan even needs to be made once some time has passed.


This Mind-Bending Theory Joins Black Holes, Gravitational Waves & Axions to Find New Physics

We haven’t seen physicists this excited for a while.

Scientists have proposed a new theory that combines some of the most mysterious phenomena in the Universe – black holes, gravitational waves, and axions – to solve one of the most confounding problems in modern physics. And it’s got experts in the field very excited.

The theory, which imagines a Universe filled with colossal ‘gravitational atoms’ that are capable of producing vast clouds of dark matter, predicts that it could be possible to detect entirely new kinds of particles using a giant gravitational wave detector called LIGO.

 “This is probably the most promising paper I’ve seen so far on the new physics we might probe with gravitational waves,” MIT particle physicist Benjamin Safdi, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Nature.

“It’s an awesome idea,” adds particle astrophysicist Tracy Slatyer, also from MIT. “The [LIGO] data is going to be there, and it would be amazing if we saw something.”

Before we dive headfirst into the crazy physics of this new theory, let’s run through the major players.

Black holes are an easy one – vast, matter-annihilating objects that are so remarkably strange, when Albert Einstein’s equations first predicted their existence, he didn’t believe they could actually be real.

Black holes maintain such powerful gravitational fields, when two of them collide with each other, they produce gravitational waves.

Confirmed for the first time last year, but predicted by Einstein more than a century ago, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time that emanate from the most violent and explosive events in the Universe.

 And axions? Well, they’re a bit more tricky, because unlike black holes and gravitational waves, we’re not even sure if axions exist – and we’ve been searching for them for the past four decades.

Axions are one of the many candidates that have been proposed for dark matter – a mysterious, invisible substance whose gravity appears to hold our galaxies together, and is predicted to make up 85 percent of all matter in the Universe.

Axions are predicted to weigh around 1 quintillion (a billion billion) times less than an electron, and if we can prove their existence, these super-light particles could solve some major theoretical problems with the standard model of physics.

Okay, now that we have all the pieces in place, let’s get to this mind-bending new theory. (And yes, we’re calling it a theory, not a hypothesis, because it’s based on a mathematical framework. More on that here).

A team of physicists led by Asimina Arvanitaki and Masha Baryakhtar from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada have proposed that if axions exist and have the right mass, they could be produced in the form of vast clouds of particles by a spinning black hole.

This process would be enough to produce gravitational waves like the ones that were detected last year, and if so, we can use gravitational wave detectors to finally observe the signature of dark matter, and close the gaps in the standard model.

“The basic idea is that we’re trying to use black holes… the densest, most compact objects in the Universe, to search for new kinds of particles,” Baryakhtar told Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo.

You can think of this scenario like this: a black hole is like the nucleus at the centre of a giant, hypothetical gravitational atom. Axions get stuck in orbit around this nucleus, whizzing around like electrons do in regular atoms.

“[E]lectrons interact via electromagnetism, so they let out electromagnetic waves, or light waves. Axions interact via gravity, so they let out gravitational waves,” Mandelbaum explains.

If an axion strays too close to the black hole’s event horizon, the spin of the black hole will ‘supercharge’ it, and due to a process called superradiance that has been shown to multiply photons (light particles) in many experiments in the past, this will cause the axions to multiply within a black hole.

These multiplying axions would interact with the black hole in the same way as the original axion near the event horizon, resulting in 1080 axions – “the same number of atoms in the entire Universe, around a single black hole”, says Mandelbaum.

“It’s so cool, and I haven’t read a paper that talked about [superradiance] in years,” Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a University of Washington axion expert who wasn’t involved in the research, told him.

“[I]it was really fun to see superradiance and axions in one paper.”

These multiplying axions wouldn’t just pop into existence randomly – they’d group together in huge quantum waves like the electron clouds you see in an atom.

Within this cloud, any axions that collide with each other would produce gravitons – another hypothetical particle thought to mediate the force of gravitation.

Gravitons are to gravitational waves as photons are to light, and Baryakhtar and her team propose that they would set off continuous waves into the Universe at a frequency set by the axion’s mass.

With improved sensitivity, LIGO should be able to spot thousands of these axion signals in a single year, the researchers predict, finally giving them a way to observe the signature of dark matter – something that has eluded scientists for decades.

Of course, grand theories like these always come with some caveats – in order to work, the axions must have a very specific mass, and that mass doesn’t necessarily gel well with current predictions on dark matter.

But physicists are still excited by the idea, and with LIGO expected to increase greatly in sensitivity in the next couple of years, it might not be too long before we can test it out for real.


Hemophilia B Treatment Refixia Passes Key EU Regulatory Hurdle

Hemophilia B Treatment Refixia Nears European Union Approval
Novo Nordisk’s hemophilia B treatment Refixia has cleared a major hurdle toward European Union approval.

An arm of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) known as the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended approving Refixin for preventing and treating patients 12 years and older with hemophilia B, or congenital factor IX deficiency. The European Commission will make the final decision on approval.

The EU designated Refixia (nonacog beta pegol, N9-GP) an orphan drug on May 15, 2009. The EMA said in a press release that the new recommendation covers Refixia as a powder and solvent for injection. The doses it covers include 500 IU, 1000 IU and 2000 IU.

Nonacog beta pegol, the active ingredient in Refixia, is a recombinant coagulation factor IX. It replaces the missing factor IX in patients with hemophilia B, helping the blood to clot and providing temporary bleeding control.

CHMP’s Refixia recommendation was based on the results of a Phase 3 clinical trial that enrolled 115 children and adults with moderately severe to severe hemophilia B.

Novo Nordisk reported in January 2016 that trial investigators found Refixia effective in preventing and treating bleeding episodes, and controlling bleeding in surgery. The treatment was well-tolerated, with no safety problems, the investigators said.

Refixia’s half-life was five times longer than that of other factor IX products, the trial results showed.  Participants achieved a higher level of factor IX in their blood than with other products, even with less frequent doses of Refixia. A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes for its effectiveness to drop in half.

The trial also found that 40 IU/kg of Refixia once per week kept patients’ factor IX levels above 15 percent, and reduced their median annualized bleeding rate (ABR) to 1.0. In addition, the treatment showed potential in preventing joint bleeding, and in improving patients’ quality of life.

“We are excited about the positive opinion obtained for Refixia, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Novo Nordisk, said in a press release. It represents a significant milestone in our efforts to expand the treatment options for patients with haemophilia. We believe Refixia with its strong clinical profile provides hemophilia B patients better protection against bleeds, even into damaged joints, and an overall improved quality of life.”


6 Reasons Why Developers Should Choose WordPress for an Enterprise Site 

Building an enterprise website is, by definition, a huge undertaking. The last thing you want is to invest your project’s resources into the wrong framework, which could potentially set you back thousands of dollars and countless wasted hours.

Business man in a suit

Naturally, we’re big fans of WordPress! It’s a well-supported, flexible, and open-source framework that’s powerful enough to develop all manner of websites. As a platform that’s now over ten years old, it’s stable and packed with extensible features that enable you to build almost any website or web app you can imagine.

WordPress is a serious contender for many reasons. In this article, we’ll outline what building an enterprise level site actually means, then discuss all of the reasons you should seriously consider it as the framework for your next project. Let’s get started!

What It Means to Build an Enterprise Level Site

The phrase ‘enterprise website’ is a bit of an elusive term, as there seems to be no official consensus on its precise meaning. However, it frequently pops up around (virtual) campfires to describe substantial web projects, most often for larger companies.

Considering that “enterprise” – the core word at play here – can mean both a difficult undertaking and a business or company, this definition works for us! This concept can extend to many scenarios, such as:

  • The official website of a huge brand or business, for example, Coca Cola.
  • Web applications with a sizable user base, such as Canva
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Basecamp, for example.

In short, an enterprise website means any site that serves a massive user base or attracts a colossal number of visitors.

However, developing for enterprises isn’t the same as other projects, and there are a handful of extra considerations to keep in mind. For example, you must adequately future-proof your site, and take extra care to watch page load times. These aspects can make or break the success of such large-scale projects.

In the end, being responsible for an enterprise website means you need a high-performance framework that offers the flexibility to build on new features, while serving a large number of people. WordPress may be the answer.

6 Reasons Why Developers Should Choose WordPress for an Enterprise Site

If you’re looking for a powerful, community-backed framework with a proven reputation, WordPress is a strong contender. Here are six reasons to prove it!

1. It’s Flexible, Open-Source, and Free

Of course, WordPress is open-source. It means the original source code is freely available for personal and commercial use, and you can redistribute it or modify it however you see fit.

The home page.

This makes WordPress an ideal candidate for enterprise sites for a number of reasons. Firstly, given its dominance on the web, you’ll have one of the largest developer communities at your back. This means you’ll receive regular security and feature improvements without paying any additional fees.

Secondly, it’s easily customizable for your own specific needs from the very beginning. In other words, WordPress is incredibly flexible with regard to any bespoke functionality you need to build or source.

Some of these elements are available right out of the box. WordPress pluginsenable you to implement additional functionality natively, but you can also find third-party projects such as Roots, which extends its capabilities even further. Of course, there’s always the WordPress community itself to ask for help too!

2. WordPress is Ready for Responsive Development

Responsive development is what makes a design work across all devices, whether that’s a desktop or smartphone display. Since WordPress enables you to build completely custom themes, your enterprise site can sport whatever skin you need it to. Considering that mobile devices are the primary driver for digital media growth, your enterprise site definitely needs to be responsive.

The Theme Directory
There are thousands of free themes to choose from at the Theme Directory.

There are a wide number of existing themes to choose from, both free (from the Theme Directory) and premium options. Functionality also varies depending on the target niche, which covers industries such as education, blogging, small business, and even eCommerce.

Many themes are now responsive out of the box, and although you may find you need to get your hands dirty if yours isn’t, there’s so much choice that choosing a different one is the recommended option.

To get started, you’ll likely need a solid guide for reference. From there, you can either choose an existing theme or build one from scratch – we recommend sticking to a theme framework if you build your own.

3. WordPress is Scalable

Scalability affects your ability to serve increasingly large numbers of visitors. If no effort has been made here, even a simple website will crash after receiving one too many visitors at once.

WordPress is used by huge sites all over the world – including, and other brands such as the New Yorker, CNN, Spotify, Fortune, and Time. It’s clear to see that WordPress is easily adaptable to any sized website.

The New Yorker home page.
The New Yorker serves its users with WordPress.

If your enterprise site anticipates a lot of visitors (and it should!), scalability should be important to you. Simply put, it will enable you to serve users with a website that doesn’t crash or slow down through high-traffic periods.

There are many ways you can approach scalability; however, WordPress at Scale is a stellar resource dedicated to helping you learn how to scale WordPress on your own. Regardless, there a few key areas to focus on when looking to scale your website:

  1. Strengthening your database with features such as MySQL Query Cache.
  2. Reining in data use by keeping a large buffer pool.
  3. Considering solutions such as MySQL replication to handle many database requests.
  4. Not rendering PHP with Apache, but use a PHP worker pool instead.
  5. Setting up a distributed file-system for handling media between multiple servers.

Choosing the right hosting company can also go a long way in scaling WordPress, because the right choice will handle these types of considerations for you. Solutions such as WP Engine offer enterprise-level hosting that specifically addresses these types of scenarios.

4. It Offers Multisite Functionality

Simply put, Multisite is when you operate multiple websites from one central hub. WordPress supports running as many sites as you need from one core installation:

WordPress' Multisite dashboard.

WordPress’ Multisite functionality can come in handy in a number of situations. You can create a private network of sites for your brand, offer a network of client sites administered by your agency, or even develop a network where people can add their own sites, for example.

For a real-world example of this third situation, check out

A portion of the home page.

It’s run entirely on the same Multisite functionality you’ll have access to, and it’s a fantastic example of what you can achieve using WordPress Multisite in an enterprise setting.

It might not be a top priority for many, but combined with some of the other reasons to choose WordPress, it showcases what can be achieved with the platform. What’s more, it’s not complicated to set up!

5. It Has Built-In User Role Management

Role management essentially gives you the power to control who can access certain areas of your site. One of the guiding principles for security is to only offer access to the essentials a user needs to carry out their tasks. Roles assign users those permissions, whatever they may be:

An example of WordPress' user roles.

For enterprises that will often need to set up many users, this is a clear positive. Each user can manage their own account, and Administrators will be able to set access permissions accordingly. Of course, there’s extra effort needed to maintain the user base, but the trade-off is worth it for the flexibility you’ll receive.

WordPress comes with role management functionality included, which means you can already assign users to default roles. However, if you require special user access, you can also define your own custom roles.

As role management plays a vital role in any user-driven website, WordPress offers an entire digital handbook to help you learn how it works. It should be all you need to effectively manage your site’s users.

6. WordPress Has Its Own REST API

We would be remiss to discuss WordPress’ viability for enterprise sites without pointing out the REST API. Endpoints were included in a recent update, and it means you can now tie WordPress to a number of external apps and languages by using technology such as AJAX and JSON.

The REST API home page.

More simply, you can utilize the powerful back-end capabilities of WordPress with a flexible front end solution you’re comfortable with. This ‘headless’ approach could offer seemingly endless potential for all manner of development projects.

One real world example of this is Reactor, which connects mobile apps with their WordPress site counterparts. It enables app owners to use all of their site’s information in the app without having to maintain separate databases for each.

Of course, if your enterprise site will ever be part of an application, you’ll want to get onboard with the REST API sooner rather than later. Because most of the hard work has already been done, your job will be to merely extend the endpoints as you need them.


If you want open-source flexibility and a strong community behind you, WordPress is a fantastic choice for your next enterprise site. Of course, you should still carefully examine your needs and carry out some research to find the best fit for your project. However, with its current dominance and upward turn, WordPress is clearly a tantalizing option.

To recap the top reasons WordPress works for enterprise sites:

  1. It’s flexible, open-source, and free.
  2. The platform is ready for responsive development.
  3. It’s scalable.
  4. WordPress has multisite functionality.
  5. It has built-in user role management.
  6. The WordPress REST API will supercharge the platform’s functionality.


Do ripples in space-time herald a new theory of gravity? 

Ripples in space-time could herald the demise of general relativity and its replacement by a quantum theory of gravity.

A billion years ago, two dancing black holes make a final spin, merge, and – in a matter of seconds – release a cataclysmic amount of energy. Much as a falling pebble spreads waves on the surface of a still lake, the merger initiates gravitational waves in the space-time continuum. Fast-forward to planet Earth and the year 2015. After an immense journey, the gravitational waves from the black-hole merger pass through our solar system. On the morning of 14 September, they oh-so-slightly wiggle the arms of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Louisiana and Washington state. A pattern of light-waves shifts in a distinctive, long-sought way. A computer sounds the alarm.

Niayesh Afshordi at the University of Waterloo in Canada first heard of LIGO’s seminal detection over lunch in a bistro. It was late 2015 and still weeks to go until the results were officially released. But rumours were buzzing, and a colleague who had seen the unpublished paper spilled the beans. Afshordi, an astrophysicist who also works at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, instantly appreciated the importance of the news – both for the physics community at large, and for his own unconventional theory about the construction of the Universe.

‘I had an existential crisis at some point. I thought all the problems in cosmology had been solved,’ Afshordi recalled. ‘But then I came up with this idea that dark energy is made by black holes.’ Studies of distant stellar explosions and other lines of evidence show that our universe grows at an accelerating pace, but nobody knows the cause. Matter alone cannot have this effect, so cosmologists blame the expansion on a peculiar type of energy, called dark energy. Its origin and nature were, and are, a mystery.

In 2009, Afshordi, together with his colleagues Chanda Prescod-Weinstein and Michael Balogh, put forward a theory according to which black holes seed a long-range field that mimics dark energy. The field spills out from black holes and spans through the Universe. It’s an intriguing explanation for the origin of dark energy and, by Afshordi’s calculations, the number of black holes estimated to exist should create just about the right amount of field energy to fit the observations.

But Afshordi’s idea overthrows what physicists believed they knew about black holes. In Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the event horizon of a black hole – the surface beyond which there is no escape – is insubstantial. Nothing special happens upon crossing it, just that there is no turning around later. If Afshordi is right, however, the inside of the black hole past the event horizon no longer exists. Instead, a Planck-length away from where the horizon would have been, quantum gravitational effects become large, and space-time fluctuations go wild. (The Planck length is a minuscule distance: about 10-35 metres, or 10-20 times the diameter of a proton.) It’s a complete break with relativity.

When he heard of the LIGO results, Afshordi realised that his so-far entirely theoretical idea could be observationally tested. If event horizons are different than expected, the gravitational-wave bursts from merging black holes should be different, too. Events picked up by LIGO should have echoes, a subtle but clear signal that would indicate a departure from standard physics. Such a discovery would be a breakthrough in the long search for a quantum theory of gravity. ‘If they confirm it, I should probably book a ticket to Stockholm,’ Afshordi said, laughing.

Get Aeon straight to your inbox

Quantum gravity is the missing unification of general relativity with the quantum field theories of the standard model of particle physics. If just thrown together, the two theories lead to internal contradictions, and fail to make sense. Black holes are one of the most studied examples for such a contradiction. Use quantum field theory near the horizon and you find that the black hole emits particles, slowly evaporating. Those particles carry away mass but, as Stephen Hawking demonstrated in the 1970s, they cannot carry information about what formed the black hole. And so, if the black hole evaporates entirely, all the information about what fell in has been destroyed. In quantum field theory, however, information is always preserved. Something in the mathematics, therefore, doesn’t fit correctly.

The culprit, most physicists think, is that the calculation doesn’t take into account the quantum behaviour of space and time because the theory for this – quantum gravity – is still unknown. For decades, physicists thought that the quantum gravitational effects necessary to solve the black-hole conundrum were hidden behind the event horizon. They thought that it is only near the singularity, at the centre of the black hole, that the effects of quantum gravity become relevant. But recently, they have had to rethink.

In 2012, a group of researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found an unexpected consequence of the currently favoured idea that information somehow escapes with the radiation from a black hole. To make the idea work, large deviations from general relativity are required, not only near the singularity but also at the event horizon. Those deviations would create what the researchers dubbed a ‘black hole firewall’, a barrier of high energy just outside the horizon.

Such a firewall (if it exists) would become noticeable only for an infalling observer, and would not emit observable signatures that could show up in our telescopes. However, the firewalls lent support to Afshordi’s earlier idea that black holes create a field that acts as dark energy. If that was so, then the near-horizon region of black holes should be very different from what general relativity predicts; a firewall that solves the black hole information-loss problem could be one effect of that deviation. Afshordi’s proposal for how to modify general relativity might therefore hold the key to resolving the tension between quantum theory and general relativity. It was an idea that wouldn’t let him go.

Instead of a splash followed by dissipating ripples, the gravitational waves should come as faint echoes of the original event

When he learned of LIGO’s first detection, Afshordi began to explore whether the gravitational waves emitted from a black-hole merger could reveal intimate details about what happens near the black-hole horizon. At first it seemed too much to hope for. ‘I didn’t really think we could see quantum gravity effects in the gravitational-wave signal because we had already looked in so many places,’ Afshordi said. ‘But I changed my mind about this.’

What made Afshordi reconsider was work by Vítor Cardoso and colleagues at the Instituto Superior Técnico in Portugal on gravitational-wave echoes from black holes. Cardoso had laid out on general grounds that a merger of two objects that are compact but do not have an event horizon would produce gravitational waves very similar to those of black holes – similar, but not identical. The key feature indicating the horizon’s absence, Cardoso argued, would be a periodic recurrence in the signal from the merger. Instead of a single peak followed by a ringdown (think a big splash on a pond, and then rapidly dissipating ripples), the gravitational waves should come as a series of fading pulses – fainter echoes of the original event. Afshordi found that the near-horizon modification described by his theory would cause exactly such echoes. Moreover, he could calculate their recurrence time as a function of the final black hole’s mass, allowing a precise prediction.

Nobody had ever sought such a signal before, and finding it would not be easy. So far there are only two public, well-defined gravitational-wave detections from LIGO. Together with a collaborator, Afshordi analysed the LIGO data for traces of echoes. By comparing the openly available recordings to random noise, they found an echo at the calculated recurrence time. The statistical significance is not high, however. In scientific terms, it has an estimated significance of 2.9 sigma. Such a signal can be caused by pure noise with a chance of about a one-in-200. In physics, an event of such low confidence is interesting but does not amount to a discovery.

The LIGO experiment is really just getting started, however. The most remarkable thing about the first two gravitational wave events is that the facilities were able to record them at all. The technological challenges were tremendous. Each site, both in Louisiana and in Washington state, has an interferometer with two perpendicular arms about 4 kilometres long in which a laser beam bounces back and forth between mirrors; when recombined, the beams interfere with each other. Interference of the laser’s light-waves is sensitive to deformations in the arms’ relative length as little as a thousandth the diameter of a proton. That is the level of sensitivity required to pick up gravitational effects of colliding black holes.

A gravitational wave passing through the interferometer deforms both arms at different times, thereby skewing the interference pattern. Requiring an event to be recorded at both sites provides protection against false alarms. By design, LIGO detects gravitational waves best at wavelengths of hundreds to thousands of kilometres, the range expected for black-hole mergers. Other gravitational-wave detectors are planned to cover different parts of the spectrum, each tuned to different types of phenomena.

Gravitational waves are an unavoidable prediction of general relativity. Einstein recognised that space-time is dynamic – it stretches, it curves, and it wiggles in response to gravitational disturbances. When it wiggles, the waves can travel freely into the far distance, carrying away energy and manifesting themselves by a periodic expansion and contraction of space in orthogonal directions. We have long had indirect evidence for gravitational waves. Because they carry away energy, they cause a small but measurable decay in the mutual orbit of binary pulsars. This effect was first observed in the 1970s, and was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1993. But until LIGO’s detection, we had no direct evidence for the existence of gravitational waves.

This is basic research at its finest. What kind of black hole and compact stellar systems are there? Where are they within the galaxies?

LIGO’s first event – the September 2015 detection that so excited Afshordi – was remarkable, and not only because it happened just a few days after a long-planned instrumental upgrade. It stood out also because the merging black holes were so heavy, with masses estimated at 29 and 36 times the Sun’s mass. ‘A lot of people expected the black hole events to have lower masses,’ said Ofek Birnholtz, a member of the LIGO collaboration’s group on compact binary coalescence and a physicist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The strikingly clean signal, together with the collaboration’s openness in sharing the data, has been an inspiration for physicists in other communities who, like Afshordi, are now exploring how to use the new observations for their own work.

On 26 December 2015, LIGO recorded a second event. The age of gravitational-wave astronomy had officially begun, after many years of slow progress and false starts. ‘Some of my PhD colleagues had left the field of gravitational-wave astronomy,’ Birnholtz said and added, laughing, ‘but are returning because suddenly it’s hot again.’ This is uncharted territory, basic research at its finest. What kind of black hole and compact stellar systems are there? Where are they within the galaxies? What do the gravitational waves reveal about their origins? If a neutron star merges with a black hole, what can be learned about matter in such extreme conditions? Do black holes behave the way that our calculations predict?

Afshordi’s theory of black holes and dark energy is just one example of the kinds of enquiries that are now possible. A wealth of information is waiting to be explored, openly, around the world.

Afew days after Afshordi’s result appears on the open-access server, members of the LIGO collaboration scrutinise the analysis. It takes only a few weeks until they publish a reply, criticise the methodology, and call for different statistical tools. Birnholtz is one of the authors of that criticism.

‘The claim is surprising,’ said Birnholtz. ‘I have no prior as to whether or not there should be echoes. That’s physics nobody can guess at. But I do have a strong intuition, working with LIGO data, that the amplitude is probably not large enough to claim such a significance at this stage.’ Birnholtz has suggestions for how to improve the analysis, but avoids making statements about the chances of confirming the result. Alex Nielsen, another member of the LIGO collaboration and one of Birnholtz’s co-authors, reiterates the need for caution: ‘As members of the LIGO collaboration, we have to be very careful about what statements we make in public, before we have full collaboration approval. But the data is public and people can do with it what they want.’

The LIGO collaboration has an open science centre, where data recorded for one hour around the time of confirmed gravitational events is publicly available. ‘People are welcome to use it and contact us for any questions,’ Birnholtz said. ‘If they find anything interesting, they can share it with us, and we can work on it together. This is part of the scientific experience.’

The collaboration has several thousand members worldwide, distributed at more than a hundred institutions. They meet twice a year; the most recent meeting was in March in Pasadena, California. Some members of the collaboration are now trying to reproduce Afshordi’s analysis. Birnholtz expects the effort to take several months. ‘The result might be disappointing,’ he warned. ‘Not in that it says there are no echoes, but that we can’t say whether there are echoes.’ Gravitational-wave astronomy is still a field in its infancy, though, and much more data are on the way. The collaboration estimates that by the completion of the third observing run in 2018, LIGO is likely to have made 40 high-quality detections of black-hole mergers. Each will offer another opportunity to test Afshordi’s theory.

Because they interact so weakly and deposit so little energy as they pass by, gravitational waves are exceedingly difficult to measure. The deformation they cause is tiny, and enormous care is necessary to extract a clean signal. The discovery threshold used by the LIGO collaboration is 5 sigma, corresponding to a chance of less than one in 3 million that the signal was coincidence, which is far above the significance level of Afshordi’s signal. The weak interaction of gravitational waves, however, is also the reason why they are excellent messengers. Unlike particles or light, they are barely affected on their way to us, carrying with them pristine information about where and how they were generated. They allow entirely new precision tests of general relativity in a regime that has never before been explored.

Cosmologists would also want to look much more closely at the implications of this new explanation for dark energy

If black hole echoes should be confirmed, that would almost certainly indicate a stark deviation from general relativity. Finding echoes would not uniquely confirm Afshordi’s theory that black holes seed dark energy. But some truly novel idea would be needed to explain it. ‘I don’t know of such echoes in any simulation that we have done to date,’ Birnholtz said. ‘If we were to confirm that there was an echo, that would be very interesting. We would have to look into what could produce such an echo.’

Afshordi has research plans in case the statistical significance of his signal increases. He wants to improve his model of black-hole mergers, and run a numerical simulation to support the analytical estimate of what the echoes should look like. The next step would then be to better understand the underlying theory of space-time that could give rise to such a behaviour of the black-hole horizon. Cosmologists would also want to look much more closely at the implications of this new explanation for dark energy.

Afshordi is aware just how speculative it is to alter general relativity so drastically. But he’s a rebel with a mission: ‘I want to encourage people to keep an open mind and not to dismiss ideas because they don’t match their preconceived notions.’ With LIGO exposing the workings of the Universe in ways never before studied, a lot of preconceived notions may soon be set aside.


Prescription for Change – How to End America’s Opioid Addiction

 The MTV production “Prescription for Change” highlights the struggles of drug addiction and includes interviews with President Obama, in which he urges users to seek help, and discusses the need for more and better treatment programs, regardless of the user’s ability to pay.

The video also discusses the history of opioids that led to the current addiction epidemic. Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, lied to doctors and patients, convincing them that OxyContin — a narcotic pain killer — was safe and non-addictive when prescribed for pain.

Starting in 1996, Purdue unleashed more than 20,000 “educational programs” to encourage long-term use of opioids to control non-cancer pain,1 even though there were no studies to support the use of opioids long-term in patients with non-fatal conditions.2

In the first year (1996) sales of Oxycontin reached $45 million. By 2000, that number had ballooned to $1.1 billion.3 Ten years later sales had tripled to $3.1 billion, gobbling up 30 percent of the market.4

Addiction Epidemic Was No Fluke

Misinformation and manipulation of scientific facts by drug makers have led to a drug crisis of truly astounding proportions, with more Americans now using prescription opioids than those who smoke cigarettes.5

In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., there are 143 prescriptions for every 100 people.6 Clearly doctors bear a significant responsibility for creating this situation.

Surgeons also need to reevaluate current practices of routinely sending surgical patients home with a powerful painkiller.7 In fact, many of today’s addicts became hooked after being prescribed a narcotic pain reliever following dental surgery or a relatively minor injury.

Heroin use more than doubled in 18- to 25-year-olds between 2002 and 2011,8 and this rise in heroin addiction was a direct result of prescription opioid addiction among young patients.

Crazy enough, just last year — in the midst of rallying cries to get a better handle on the burgeoning crisis — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of opioids in children as young as 11.9 I shudder to imagine what this might do to an entire generation of children!

Opioids Top the List of Potentially Lethal Drugs

In 2015, 27 million Americans used illegal drugs like heroin and/or misused prescription pain killers. Oxycontin and other opioid pain killers have been identified as the primary gateway drugs to heroin10 — something every person out there needs to be fully aware of.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine,11 while most opioid drug abusers obtain the drug from a friend or relative, (23 percent pay for them; 26 percent get them for free), individuals who are at greatest risk for drug abuse are just as likely to get them from their doctor.

Addiction to opioids and heroin is now costing the U.S. more than $193 billion each year. Opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine
also kill more Americans than car crashes each year.12

As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.”13

He has also warned that “Patients given just a single course may become addicted for life.”14 Doctors and patients simply must become fully cognizant of this immense risk.

Studies Do Not Support Use of Opioids for Long-Term Use

According to Frieden, studies show that addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Worse, 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription.

Most studies investigating long-term use of opioids have lasted a mere six weeks or less, and those that lasted longer have, by and large, found “consistently poor results.”

Several of them found that opioid use worsened pain over time and led to decreased functioning — an effect thought to be related to increased pain perception.

3 Factors That Make You More Prone to Opioid Addiction

Opioid painkillers work by interacting with receptors in your brain resulting in a decrease in the perception of pain — at least temporarily. As mentioned, over time they can result in increased pain perception, setting into motion a cycle where you need increasingly larger doses, making a lethal overdose more likely.

Oxycontin’s high rate of addiction is the result of a short half-life (the amount of time the drug stays in your system before you are left wanting more). Opioids also create a temporary feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria, that can easily lead to physical dependence and addiction.

However, why certain people become addicted while others don’t has remained a mystery. Researchers from the University of Derby set out to determine what might be influencing painkiller addiction by conducting an anonymous survey of people who had pain and had used painkillers in the last month.

The three predictors that identified those most at risk of developing painkiller dependence included those who:15

  1. Used prescription painkillers more frequently
  2. Have a prior history of substance abuse (often unrelated to pain relief)
  3. Are less accepting of pain or less able to cope with pain

According to the authors “Based on these findings, a preliminary model is presented with three types of influence on the development of painkiller dependence: 1) pain leading to painkiller use, 2) risk factors for substance-related problems irrespective of pain and 3) psychological factors related to pain.”

From Prescriptions to Street Drugs

The transition from prescription opioids to street heroin is an easy one. Physical addiction to the drug drives behavior to seek more of the same drug.

When a prescription runs out, a physician refuses to renew, or the cost of the prescription becomes too high to manage, many addicts turn to heroin. Chemically, these drugs are very similar and they provide a similar kind of high.

Without additives, street heroin is as dangerous as Oxycontin, and just as addictive. However, when dealers cut the drug with other drugs, the result may be deadly. In just six days in August 2016, 174 overdoses of heroin were recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio, the largest number of overdoses in one week on record.16

On average, the city records between 20 and 25 overdoses each week. This unprecedented number of overdoses was precipitated by heroin cut with carfentanil.17 Meant to deliver a stronger and more extended high, it resulted in greater overdoses and deaths. This is to be expected, when you consider the drug was originally developed as a tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants.

Carfentanil is the strongest commercially prepared opioid. Dealers find it delivers a stronger and more addictive high. Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan told Channel 9 WCPO:18

“These people are intentionally putting in drugs they know can kill someone. The benefit for them is if the user survives it is such a powerful high for them, they tend to come back … If one or two people die, they could care less. They know the supply is so big right now that if you lose some customers, in their eyes there’s always more in line.”

Drug Addiction — a Crime or a Disease?

As noted in the video, drug addiction has long been treated as a crime. Views are now changing, and in his recent report on substance abuse, U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy stresses the importance of recognizing drug addiction as a disease.19 He recently told NPR:20

“We now know from solid data that substance abuse disorders … affect the rich and the poor, all socioeconomic groups and ethnic groups. They affect people in urban areas and rural ones … For far too long people have thought about substance abuse disorders as a disease of choice, a character flaw or a moral failing.

We underestimated how exposure to addictive substances can lead to full blown addiction. Opioids are a good example. Now we understand that these disorders actually change the circuitry in your brain … That tells us that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, and we need to treat it with the same urgency and compassion that we do with any other illness.

While this is good news for addicts and their families, this change did not occur until the victims of addiction were primarily Caucasian. Prior to the opioid epidemic, most people were convinced heroin was a problem relegated primarily to communities of color, and heroin users were viewed as a criminal element.

In 2001, 45 percent of Americans supported tough drug laws where users were simply sent to jail, and most of the federal spending relating to drug abuse was spent on law enforcement. Today, Native Americans and Caucasians have the highest rate of death from opioids; 8.4 and 7.9 per 100,000 people respectively. African Americans, Latinos and Asians are far less affected by this epidemic, with 3.3, 2.2 and 0.7 per 100,000 dying from pain killers respectively.

This shifting demographic of users has led to a change in how people view drug addiction. In 2015, 67 percent of Americans said they support treatment over incarceration for drug addicts, and the 2017 federal budget now includes $14.3 billion for treatment, compared to $9.5 billion for drug law enforcement.

Ending the Epidemic

At present, only 1 in 10 drug addicts receive the help they need, and those who do get into treatment typically face long wait times. About one-third of those who need treatment cannot afford it, or don’t have insurance coverage. There’s still an enormous amount of work that needs to be done to turn this epidemic around, but part of the answer is to become an educated patient, and to never fill that opioid prescription in the first place.

The drug industry and prescribing doctors must also acknowledge their role and take responsibility for its resolution. As noted in the video:

“We need big pharma to be honest about the products they’re selling us. We need doctors to prescribe opiates only when they’re absolutely necessary. We need to think of addiction as a treatable medical condition so people can openly ask for help, like they would for any illness.

We need to improve treatment, so it’s scientific and long-term. We need to shift money away from incarceration and into expanding treatment, so everyone has access as soon as they need it. If you or a friend are struggling with drugs or alcohol, visit for ways to get help.”

Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet

Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.

Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat

My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, by manipulating prostaglandins.)

Optimize your production of vitamin D

Optimize your vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.

Medical cannabis

Medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (up to 20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes and flavonoids. Varieties of cannabis exist that are very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel “stoned” — and high in medicinal CBD.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states. You can learn more about the laws in your state on


Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is another plant remedy that has become a popular opioid substitute.22 In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as Schedule 1 controlled substance.

However, following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative, the agency reversed its decision.23

Kratom is likely safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain. However, it’s important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should not be used carelessly. There’s very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next.

Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it’s still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

EFT is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, and negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain.

By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.

Among volunteers who had never meditated before, those who attended four 20-minute classes to learn a meditation technique called focused attention (a form of mindfulness meditation), experienced significant pain relief — a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.24

K-Laser, Class 4 Laser Therapy

If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis, or other inflammation-based pain, I’d strongly encourage you to try out K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers

K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing — both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments or even bones. The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip.


Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain such as low back pain.

Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.


Research has discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis and headaches.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.


A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, fibromyalgia pain and spinal cord pain.25

The review revealed that massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.


Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 milligrams (mg) or more per day to achieve this benefit.


This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.


In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 milligrams (mg) of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.26


Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.


This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)

This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mildly annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils

These contain the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.

Cayenne Cream

Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.

Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, exercise, meditation, hot and cold packs and mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.


Walking barefoot on the earth may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.

Watch the video discussion. URL:

A Breakthrough for the Medical World Comes in the Form of a Tiny Robot.

Robots are everywhere now, and the medical world is no different. There may not be complete robotic surgeons just yet, but various automated technology is making its way slowly into the operating room. A breakthrough for the medical world has come this month in the form of a tiny robot that is a world’s first. This marvelous device that replaces the need for a doctor entirely to perform certain segments of a larger surgical procedure.

Stefan Weber is a professor at the University of Bern, Switzerland’s ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research and lead author of the study, and he said, “We were on this project for more than eight years. And in contrast to a lot of research, we really stuck to one application for the entire time.”  Weber and his team designed and created a robot that was able to drill a very thin tunnel into a human skull during a cochlear implant surgery.  But, in theory there’s no reason why this device can’t be used on other types off surgeries too.

During a cochlear implant procedure, surgeons have to drill a 2.5 millimeter wide tunnel through a section of skull that’s surrounded by taste and facial nerves.  Because of the intricacy of this procedure, between 30 and 55 percent of patients actually lose some hearing during the process of getting the implant. Weber says, “Humans are operating at the limits of their skill-sets, haptically ad visually. But if it’s designed right, a robotic system can operate at any resolution – whether it’s a millimeter you need or a tenth of a millimeter.”

So after years of research and work building the robot, it looks like it’s finally paid off. The robot was first successfully used on a 51 year old patient last year and since then three more successes have followed.  Moving forward, Weber and team and now working on using a robot in a different step of the implant procedure – threading an electrode into the inner ear.


Is New Diabetes Pill a Silver Bullet Cure

The obesity epidemic has added extra impetus to the effort to create a cure for diabetes. According to New Scientist, a breakthrough has been made. This cure is naturally a drug and is said to reverse the effects without the need for insulin and the patient does not even need to avoid sugar.

This is a classic allopathic solution: treating the symptoms without addressing the underlying cause. The fact that it “treats” diabetes without requiring a modified diet is particularly troubling. The desire for a silver bullet that treats disease and has no side effects has led to countless dead-ends. Will this pill be any different or will history judge it to be ineffective at best?

The drastic spike in diabetes points to the fact that it cannot be primarily caused by genetics. It literally screams that something we’re doing, consistently and en masse, is horribly wrong, and we need to address it. There are major differences between type 1 and type 2, but to attempt to treat diabetes without addressing diet may be a serious miscalculation.

The importance of a nourishing and healthy diet cannot be understated. Nutrition plays a major role in all aspects of your health. The key to a healthy diet is to ditch processed foods and sugars. Instead, you should consume healthful whole foods. Ditching processed foods requires that you plan your meals in advance, but if you take it step-by-step as described in my nutrition plan, it’s quite possible, and manageable, to painlessly remove processed foods from your diet.

%d bloggers like this: