Aromajoin gets in the stream of digital olfaction age

Welcome to the digital olfaction age. From Tokyo to Haifa to Berlin, scientists are keen to demonstrate their work to push digital olfaction along, whether they are talking about digital olfactory nanoarrays for disease detection, to growing a unique kind of online fragrance marketplace, to food industry use for quality and safety control. The potential for our screens to give us information through smell, beyond clever copy-writing and high-resolution images, can raise our knowledge and perceptions about food and whatever else is being relayed. Research in this area has been written about before.

Aromajoin gets in the stream of digital olfaction age

Last year, researchers at the TokyoUniversity of Agriculture and Technology showed off their olfactory display relying on two odor-releasing vents—one on the right side, the other on the left of an LCD TV screen—programmed to dispense up to eight different aromas. “The Smelling Screen” was designed to fit inside a living room. The prototype demonstrated measured 32 centimeters in height and 53 cm in length—about the size of a large personal computer monitor. The vents released odors automatically at preset intervals. A pair of fans blew odors in various directions and created the illusion that the scent was coming from a specific point or object on the screen.

Dr Marvin Edeas, chairman and founder of the Digital Olfaction Society, said, “The digitization of olfaction brings about the idea of improved and individualized entertainment and communication; however the potential of digital can beextended to the development of medical treatments and diagnosis, especially neurological, or to the field of safety for carmakers or the Army. There is no doubt that the digitization of smells, fragrances and aromas will be the technology of tomorrow.” The Digital Olfaction Society held its first world congress in 2013 in Germany and this year’s meeting will take place in Tokyo from December 8 to December 9, providing more explorations into designing and extending applications of “digital smell technologies” to life.

What about digitizing smells? The idea, said the Society site, is to create devices that can capture odors and turn them into digital data so as to transmit them everywhere in the world. Earlier this week, Francie Diep wrote in Popular Science that one such dream is what she referred to as “smell-o-vision,” and she noted that a startup is working on smell projection to accompany video. An article in Tech in Asia last month caught the eye of Diep and other tech watchers, as it said a startup is working to make a smell-emitting screen experience real. Tokyo-based J.T. Quigley said the startupjust might be the future of movie theaters and interactive ads. The Aromajoin system is the brainchild of South Korean engineer Dong Wook Kim. The company is to show the “Aroma Shooter – Instantaneous Scent-Switching Aroma Ejector” at the Tokyo event. What are these devices exactly? ExtremeTech’s Ryan Whitwam said Thursday, “They’re basically little compressors that can expel a stream of scent molecules in a narrow band about 60-80 cm (2.0-2.6 feet) away.”

Kim’s product may win high points in moving away from liquid-based aroma sprays to solid-scent cartridges. The problem with liquid, Kim explained in Tech in Asia, is that scent particles diffuse too quickly. Sprays also have to be refilled often, decreasing cost-effectiveness. Aromajoin’s current cartridge prototypes show impressive numbers, where a single cartridge can be used 250 times a day for up to six months (Kim says that different scents have different-sized molecules, so some scents will last longer than others). Aroma Shooters can instantly mix up to six different scents. Aroma Shooter has the advantage of being able to perform in such a way that scents can be changed in just 0.1 seconds – faster than the human nose can scientifically detect a change. Smells do not linger after they are triggered. You see the software by uploading a video and drag-and-drop scents. Quigley also reported how a demonstration terminal using an iPad allowed users to touch an image to have its corresponding scent released instantly.

So at what stage is Aromajoin now? The circuit board is manufactured by one company; the hardware set comes from another, and then Kim puts the pieces together in his lab. He launched the first commercial version of his product, the AS1. Kim has assembled a ten-member team and they intend to send a compact iteration, the Aroma Shooter Mini (ASM), through crowdfunding early next year. The AS1 sells for $2,550, which includes six cartridges and software. Quigley also said that Kim is considering an aroma-based alarm clock. Indeed, Kim is considering the bigger picture of smell playing a role in everyday life, from riding trains that emit good smells to watching TV with accompanying smells to our smartphones providing aroma feedback.

Gimball: A crash-happy flying robot.

Gimball bumps into and ricochets off of obstacles, rather than avoiding them. This 34 centimeter in diameter spherical flying robot buzzes around the most unpredictable, chaotic environments, without the need for fragile detection sensors. This resiliency to injury, inspired by insects, is what sets it apart from other flying robots. Gimball is protected by a spherical, elastic cage which enables it to absorb and rebound from shocks. It keeps its balance using a gyroscopic stabilization system. When tested in the forests above Lausanne, Switzerland, it performed brilliantly, careening from tree trunk to tree trunk but staying on course. It will be presented in public at the IREX conference in Tokyo, Japan from November 5-9, 2013.

Powered by twin propellers and steered by fins, Gimball can stay on course despite its numerous collisions. This feat was a formidable challenge for EPFL PhD student Adrien Briod. “The idea was for the robot’s body to stay balanced after a collision, so that it can keep to its trajectory,” he explains. “Its predecessors, which weren’t stabilized, tended to take off in random directions after impact.” With colleague Przemyslaw Mariusz Kornatowski, Briod developed the gyroscopic  consisting of a double carbon-fiber ring that keeps the robot oriented vertically, while the cage absorbs as it rotates.

Going sensor-free: insect-inspired design

Most robots navigate using a complex network of sensors, which allow them to avoid obstacles by reconstructing the environment around them. It’s an inconvenient method, says Briod. “The sensors are heavy and fragile. And they can’t operate in certain conditions, for example if the environment is full of smoke.”

Gimball’s robustness lies in its technological simplicity, says Briod. “Flying insects handle collisions quite well. For them, shocks aren’t really accidents, because they’re designed to bounce back from them. This is the direction we decided to take in our research.”

The flying  is prepared to deal with the most difficult terrain out there. “Our objective was exactly that – to be able to operate where other robots can’t go, such as a building that has collapsed in an earthquake. The on-board camera can provide valuable information to emergency personnel.” The scientist had an opportunity to test his prototype in a Swiss pine forest. Fitted out with just a compass and an altitude sensor, Gimball demonstrated its ability to maintain its course over several hundred meters despite colliding with several tree trunks along the way.

Gimball is the latest in a long line of colliding robots developed in the laboratory of EPFL professor Dario Floreano. But its stabilization system, spherical shape and ultralight weight – barely 370 grams – demonstrate the potential of the concept better than ever before. “The mechanics must also be intelligent, since complex obstacle avoidance systems are not sufficient,” says Briod. Even so, he insists, “we’re not yet ready to compete with our model. Insects are still superior.”

The synergestic miracles of chlorella and its ability to reduce high blood pressure and cerebral stroke lesions.

Attacked at every angle, today’s healthy human experience is burdened, ever so silently, by a host of toxins and chemicals. With nutrient-void genetically modified food filling grocery shelves, vast amounts of pesticide chemicals running off into groundwater and heavy metal pollution billowing into the air we breathe, there are dangers at every turn.

Our cells are under constant attack by outside sources, including arsenals of heavy-metal-laden vaccinations, mercury-filled fish and fluoride-infused water.

It’s easy to lose all care and just take the beating. Cancers, disease and high blood pressure reign supreme in a population that fails to believe that there are miracles growing all around. How might a simple algae communicate with the human body in such a way as to relieve vascular problems and stroke?

A shift in mindset for treating vascular problems

Many people are beginning to reach out in search of natural healing answers. Simple plants are being rediscovered for their cellular rejuvenating properties. With cancers and heart disease on the rise in the West and around the world, it is no wonder why many are abandoning current pharmaceutical drug philosophy and returning to the Earth for answers.

While some are attached to their doctor’s comforting advice and drug regimen, many are beginning to think outside the industry’s box, looking for preventative, alternative answers.

Medical intervention like blood pressure medication is often sought too early, too often, before a dietary lifestyle change can be encouraged and implemented. This hasty medical intervention leaves many people mentally addicted to a prescription drug regimen, as all care is lost in dealing with the root causes of conditions like high blood pressure.

In this time of toxicity and change, a clean, single-celled algae called chlorella is becoming a go-to health powerhouse, a miracle supplement. In a study from Tokyo’s Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research, chlorella was examined for its vascular benefits, including its ability to reduce blood pressure and incidences of cerebral stroke lesions.

Dietary chlorella tested on hypertensive rats

In the study, chlorella was provided as a dietary supplement on a transgenic mice species prone to stroke and spontaneous hypertension. A control group was fed a commercial, balanced diet, and another group was fed chlorella supplements in addition to the standard diet plan.

After 21 weeks of feeding, both groups’ cholesterol levels were measured. The cholesterol was significantly lower in the chlorella-fed mice. Furthermore, the control group showed cerebral vascular accidents when their brains were histopathologically examined. This led to more cerebral stroke lesions and a shorter life span in the control group.

The miracles of chlorella converge for synergistic healing

To break the study down further, chlorella was administered in three different forms, including lipid soluble, hot water soluble and residual fractions.

The 10 percent lipid soluble and residual fraction chlorella diets showed similar results, significantly lowering blood pressure in the mice. Both forms also decreased the amount of cerebral vessel lesions, when compared to the control group. The lipid soluble fraction, which contained large quantities of antioxidants like lutein and phospholipids, supported healthy aorta collagen and elastin metabolism in the mice vascular system. The residual fraction contained large amounts of arginine, which is proven to improve blood vessel function.

The study’s authors confirmed that high levels of arginine, phospholipids and antioxidants like lutein all work together synergistically to enhance vascular function. These substances, which are packed into chlorella, may communicate a vascular medical benefit to those struggling with high blood pressure and stroke.

It blows the mind, learning about microscopic substances deep inside an algae plant, and the relationship these pieces of the puzzle have with the human body.

Miracles are always alive and at work – invisible within the leaf, the root, the flower, the algae. The miracles are there for people to accept, to be alive, strong and abundant, and chlorella is just one of many miracles waiting to happen.

The men who prefer virtual girlfriends to sex

Manga and anime cartoons in Akihabara
Manga and anime advertising posters on a building in Akihabara, Tokyo

Unless something happens to boost Japan’s birth rate, its population will shrink by a third between now and 2060. One reason for the lack of babies is the emergence of a new breed of Japanese men, the otaku, who love manga, anime and computers – and sometimes show little interest in sex.

Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolis and home to more than 35 million people, so on the face of it, it is hard to believe there is any kind of population problem at all.

But Akihabara, an area of the city dedicated to the manga and anime subculture provides one clue to the country’s problems.

Akihabara is heaven for otaku.

They are a generation of geeks who have grown up through 20 years of economic stagnation and have chosen to tune out and immerse themselves in their own fantasy worlds.

Kunio Kitamara, of the Japan Family Planning Association, describes many young Japanese men as “herbivores” – passive and lacking carnal desire.

I think twice about going out with a 3D woman”


It seems they no longer have the ambition of the post-war alpha males who made Japan such an economic powerhouse and no interest in joining a company and becoming a salary man.

They have taken on a mole-like existence and, worryingly, withdrawn from relationships with the opposite sex.

A survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2010 found 36% of Japanese males aged 16 to 19 had no interest in sex – a figure that had doubled in the space of two years.

I met two otaku, who believe themselves to be in relationships with virtual girlfriends.

Yuge and Nurikan discuss their relationships with Rinko and Ne-Ne

This girlfriend is actually a Nintendo computer game called Love Plus, which comes as a small portable tablet.

Nurikan and Yuge take their girlfriends, Rinko and Ne-ne, on actual dates to the park, and buy them cakes to celebrate their birthdays.

“It’s the kind of relationship we wish we’d had at high school,” says Nurikan.

In the game he is a 15-year-old, though in reality he is 38.

Love Plus

“As long as I have time, I’ll continue the relationship forever,” says Yuge, who is 39.

“As she’s at high school, she picks me up in the morning and we go to school together. After school we meet at the gates and go home together… In the game I am 17.”

Yuge says he often puts Ne-ne – or the games console containing her – into the basket of his bicycle, then he takes photographs of them at his destination.

Though Yuge would like to meet a real woman, and Nurikan is married, they say this is easier than having a real girlfriend.

“At high school you can have relationships without having to think about marriage,” says Yuge. “With real girlfriends you have to consider marriage. So I think twice about going out with a 3D woman.”

Nurikan says he keeps Rinko a secret from his wife, and hopes he never has to choose between them.

It’s hard to avoid feeling that otaku are in a perpetual state of childhood and are quite comfortable with their lives this way.

Exactly why they have retreated into fantasy land is not obvious.

Anime figurines on sale in Akihabara Anime figurines on sale in Akihabara

Tokyo-based social commentator Roland Kelts says many young Japanese men are pessimistic about the future. They don’t believe they will match their parents’ wealth and don’t want to commit themselves to relationships.

More from the Magazine

A comic strip from Welcome to NHK!

For Hide, the problems started when he gave up school.

“I started to blame myself and my parents also blamed me for not going to school. The pressure started to build up,” he says.

“Then, gradually, I became afraid to go out and fearful of meeting people. And then I couldn’t get out of my house.”

“If you compare China or Vietnam, most of those kids on scooters going to nightclubs, and dancing their heart away and perhaps having sex – they know it’s getting better, they know they are probably going to rock their parents’ income,” he says. “No-one in Japan feels that way.”

Several surveys have shown that even when Japanese men and women are in relationships, they have very little sex. In one survey just 27% said they had sex every week.

Marriage rates are also plunging, and very few babies – only 2% – are born out of wedlock.

Japan’s demographic timebomb is also linked to the lack of immigration.

In Britain one in eight people were born abroad, compared to one in 60 in Japan. But immigration in Japan is still heavily restricted, despite a dearth of some qualified workers.

In Britain there are 60,000 healthcare workers from overseas, while in Japan – where there is a serious shortage of nurses – there are only 60.

Japan has managed to preserve its unique culture in an increasingly globalised world but could that very sense of identity stand in the way of solving its population problems?

Or is it just time for Japanese men to grow up, have more sex and make more babies?

Vitamin D Proven More Effective Than Vaccines At Preventing The Flu.

The risk of children suffering from flu can be reduced by 50% if they take vitamin D, doctors in Japan have found. The finding has implications for flu epidemics since vitamin D, which is naturally produced by the human body when exposed to direct sunlight, has no significant side effects, costs little and can be several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccines according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Only one in ten children, aged six to 15 years, taking the sunshine vitamin in a clinical trial came down with flu compared with one in five given a dummy tablet. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, the Japanese doctor who led the trial, told The Times that vitamin D was more effective than vaccines in preventing flu.
Vitamin D was found to be even more effective when the comparison left out children who were already given extra vitamin D by their parents, outside the trial. Taking the sunshine vitamin was then shown to reduce the risk of flu to a third of what it would otherwise be.

Dr. Damien Downing, a doctor and medical consultant has publicly stated that governments “do like” epidemics as a chance to impose their will. The London based doctor has been advising patients to increase their vitamin D intake rather than get the vaccine.

You might be shocked to know that there are many physicians in both Canada and the United States who prescribe as much as 50,000 IU of vitamin D daily as a treatment for a long list of chronic diseases.

Dr. John Cannell, MD, suggests high-dose vitamin D (50,000 IU) be consumed for three days at the first sign of a cold or the flu. If you have an infection, the truth is you need more vitamin D. That’s a given. In other words, vitamin D acts as a natural antibiotic. It works against every type of microbe (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites).

Vitamin D deficiency is common during the winter months, especially in countries far north of the equator. Vitamin D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive production of inflammatory cytokines and increasing macrophage (a type of white cell) activity. Vitamin D also stimulates the production of potent anti-microbial peptides in other white blood cells and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, protecting the lungs from infection.

50 Percent Reduction In Flu Infections Using Vitamin D

Altogether 354 children took part in the trial. Vitamin D was found to protect against influenza A but not against the less common influenza B.

The trial, which was double blind, randomised, and fully controlled scientifically, was conducted by doctors and scientists from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan.

The children were given a daily dose of 1200 IUs (international units) of vitamin D over a period of three months. In the first month children in the group taking the vitamin became ill just as often as those taking the dummy tablet. But by the second month, when the vitamin level in the children’s blood was higher, the advantage of the vitamin was clear.

The Japanese scientists, writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, say that the anti-viral drugs zanamivir and oseltamivir reduce risk of flu infection by 8 percent in children who have been exposed to infection, compared with a 50 percent or greater reduction with vitamin D.

Anti-virals are typically more effective than vaccines for the influenza virus which suggests that both forms of medical intervention would consistently fail in similar studies when pitted against vitamin D.

Anti-virals are also too expensive, and possibly too toxic, to be given to the population as a whole whereas vitamin D has additional benefits. The sunshine vitamin not only prevents bone fractures but is also believed to reduce risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other illness, including various bacterial as well as viral infections.

The Japanese finding supports a theory that low blood levels of the sunshine vitamin occurring in winter explain why flu epidemics generally peak between December and March.

Vitamin D activates the innate immune system, enabling the body to produce several proteins such as defensin and cathelicidin which trigger cell activity and disable viruses.

Dr John Oxford, professor of virology at Queen Mary School of Medicine, London, said: “This is a timely study. It will be noticed by scientists. It fits in with the seasonal pattern of flu. There is an increasing background of solid science that makes the vitamin D story credible. ”

Dose and Vitamin D Levels Are Critical

Researchers have recently pinpointed the mechanism behind vitamin D3’s ability to enhance the immune system and why it is so critical to our health.

– Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a steroid hormone precursor, which has profound effects on innate immunity.

– The amount of vitamin D in most food and nearly all multivitamins is literally inconsequential.

– The correct daily dose of vitamin D for adults is approximately 5,000 IU/day, not the 200 to 600 IU recommended by the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Medicine and the FDA.

– The only blood test to determine vitamin D adequacy is a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, not the 1,25-di-hydroxy-vitamin D test many physicians now order.

– Healthy vitamin D blood levels are between 70 and 90 ng/ml, levels obtained by fewer than 5% of Americans.

– The mechanism of action of vitamin D in infection, dramatically increasing the body’s production of broad-spectrum natural antibiotics (anti-microbial peptides or AMP), suggests pharmaceutical doses of vitamin D (1,000 IU per pound of body weight per day for several days) will effectively treat not only influenza and the common cold, but help treat a host of other seasonal infections, including meningitis, septicemia, and pneumonia, in both children and adults.




The New Deadliest Substance Known to Man Is Top Secret (For Now)

Scientists recently discovered a new type of botulinum toxin (a.k.a. botox) that they believe is the deadliest substance known to man. Because they’ve yet to discover an antitoxin, researchers won’t publish the details of gene sequence due to security concerns—a first for the scientific community. Thank God.

When scientists say this stuff is deadly, they mean it. It takes an injection of just 2 billionths of a gram or inhaling 13 billionths of a gram to kill an adult. A spoonful of the stuff in a city’s water supply could be catastrophic. The toxin, which comes from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, blocks the chemical that makes nerves work, causing botulism and death by paralysis. In a comment accompanying a newly published journal article on the new botox, Stanford Medical School professor David Relman said the substance posed “an immediate and unusually serious risk to society.”

You’d be right to wonder: If this stuff is so dangerous, why do we have it in the first place? Well, it’s not manmade if that’s what you’re thinking. Before this new discovery, there were seven known branches on the botulinum family tree, but researchers recently found an eighth type of toxin in stool samples of an infant with botulism. It just so turns out that eighth type, known as type H, is the deadliest substance in the world. Scientists are withholding the genetic sequence so that terrorists, for instance, can’t synthesize it and do something terrible. Terrorists do like botox, too. It was one of these toxins that the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo tried to release in downtown Tokyo in the 1990s.

Despite the somewhat sensational nature of this latest discovery, everything is okay for now. This is, however, a rude reminder of how scientific discoveries can always be twisted into weapons of warfare. Unless we keep them secret, that is.

Government ‘must step in’ to halt Fukushima leaks.

Ministers called on to intervene as regulators upgrade severity level of the leakage.

Pressure is mounting on the Japanese government to intervene in the clean-up of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after experts voiced fears that the power company responsible for the facility is unable to cope.


The leakage earlier this month of hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water — the most serious incident at the beleaguered plant since it was devastated by a tsunami in March 2011 — highlights the failure by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to properly manage the operation. If the government fails to act, prime minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear stance may be jeopardized, analysts told Nature.


“It’s clear that TEPCO is unable to solve the problems on its own,” says Tsutomu Toichi, managing director and chief economist at the Institute of Energy Economics in Tokyo. “The government has to step in to ensure these problems are solved quickly. It is going to have to provide funds, as well as a plan for moving forward, and explain this to the public in a way that is easy to understand.”

Wiktor Frid, a nuclear expert with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority in Stockholm, adds, “That water leaked from a tank unnoticed for several days is alarming and extremely embarrassing for TEPCO”.

The leak has also led to renewed concerns over ocean contamination and food safety, with local fishing cooperatives suspending trial catches and one oceanographer saying that further leaks would have “severe” consequences for marine life.

Incident upgrade

The leak of some 300 tonnes of partially treated water that had been used to cool melted nuclear rods from the destroyed reactors was reported by TEPCO on 19 August. The radioactivity of the water stands at about 80 megabecquerels per litre, about 1% of what it was before treatment by an on-site purification system. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority initially labelled the incident a level 1 event (known as an ‘anomaly’) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, but yesterday upgraded it to level 3(‘serious incident’), citing the large amount of contaminated water leaked and the fact that a safety buffer was not available for the water tank in question.

At present, TEPCO is storing more than 300,000 tonnes of radioactive water on the site of the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi plant. Radioactive caesium isotopes are being removed from the water by an advanced liquid-processing system built after the accident, but a facility for removing strontium isotopes is not yet ready. Tritium, another harmful radionuclide, cannot be safely removed by any known purification system because it is incorporated within water molecules.

The leaked water is thought to have seeped into the ground and will eventually reach the sea adjacent to the plant. The storage site near Fukushima’s reactor 4, where the leak was discovered, lies some 50 metres above sea level and is just a few hundred metres from the coast.

Measures proposed so far to prevent the polluted water from flowing into the sea — such as freezing or excavating the soil surrounding the storage site — seem to be either very expensive or technically unfeasible, says Joachim Knebel, a nuclear expert and chief science officer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

“We can’t really assess the situation from far away,” he says. “But it appears to me that none of the proposed measures would work. TEPCO would be well advised to seek international expertise in coping with the problems.”

Several countries, including Russia, have offered to assist with the company’s clean-up efforts, and TEPCO said last week that it will consider accepting outside help. On Monday, it also announced a series of measures, including the installation of a new central control system, to mitigate the risk of future leaks.

“Some tanks have automatic monitoring equipment and some don’t,” says Yo Koshimizu, a TEPCO spokesman. “We are currently determining whether to add such equipment to all of the tanks.”

Storage situation

Some 400 tonnes of cooling water are being collected in tanks each day. The growing fleet of storage tanks — which currently stands at about 1,000 — is a source of alarm for experts, who fear that huge amounts of contaminated water will eventually have to be dumped into the ocean. Worse still, some 300 tonnes of groundwater highly contaminated with caesium-137, which has a 30-year half-life, are thought to be flowing from beneath the destroyed reactors into the sea every day.

The potential for harm is huge, says Jota Kanda, an oceanographer at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology who monitors radionuclide distribution in sediments and biota off Fukushima1.

“The effects of one relatively small leak may be insignificant,” he says. “But there are huge amounts of radionuclides in these tanks and the water may have to be stored for a long time to come. If more leaks were to occur the consequences might be severe.”

The Fukushima nuclear accident resulted in the largest ever accidental release of radioactivity to the oceans. Some 80% of all the radionuclides released from Fukushima ended up in the Pacific2. In some local fish, high residual levels of radioactivity were measured two years after the accident. Commercial fishing in the area is still banned.

But it is unclear how much residual radioactive contamination is still entering the sea from leaks around the Fukushima plant, says Scott Fowler, a marine ecologist at Stony Brook University in New York who has been involved in previous assessments of contamination levels in the ocean near Fukushima.

To track changes in coastal waters and predict when seafood species in the region may be safe to consume, it will be necessary to establish a ‘temporal data set’ — that is, to measure the levels and distributions of contaminant radionuclides at a given location over time, he says.

“Even if one assumes that leaks from the plant into the sea will eventually be stopped, residual contamination would continue to be present in the adjacent marine ecosystem for many years,” he says. “So the contamination of long-lived radionuclides in different organisms in the local marine food webs needs to be monitored continually.”

Source: Nature

Artifact suppression and analysis of brain activities with EEG signals

Proper classification of electroencephalography data is the main task in electroencephalography based brain computer interface. Brain-computer interface is a communication system that connects the brain with computer (or other devices) but is not dependent on the normal output of the brain (i.e., peripheral nerve and muscle). Such interface transforms neural activities into signals to establish a new mode of communication which can be used by subjects with severe motor disabilities.


Researchers from Pabna University of Science and Technology (Pabna, Bangladesh) and the University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan) used a data adaptive technique for artifact suppression and brain wave extraction from electroencephalography signals to detect regional brain activities. The regional brain activities were mapped on the basis of the spatial distribution of rhythmic components.


The researchers found that the data adaptive technique is very efficient in artifact suppression and identifying individual motor imagery based on the activities of alpha component. They also found that different regions of the brain are activated in response to different stimuli.


Source:  Neural Regeneration Research



Two years after the nuclear accident at Fukushima plant, the nuclear industry is accused of evading its responsibilities.

The victims of the nuclear disaster in 2011 were almost forgotten after being placed in little, so-called temporary apartments spread across Japan. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima plant, paid “temporary compensation” to the victims, but now people have to pay back the money, the international press reports.

Yukiko Kameya, 68, is one of these victims. She used to live in the town of Futaba, close to the Fukushima nuclear plant, until the tsunami on March 11, 2011. After the nuclear accident, she was moved in a small public housing apartment in Tokyo and received initially $18,000 in compensation from TEPCO. However, she has to pay back $11,000 of the total sum.

“We were living just 1.2 kilometres from the plant, and we escaped with nothing but the clothes on our back,” she said. “We had that money deducted from our compensation. I was surprised, so I called TEPCO and said that they were using dirty tricks, that they were using fraud. Why did they give it to us to if we had to pay it back?”

Companies that were involved in designing and building the Fukushima reactors, such as General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi, are not required to pay a cent in compensation, a Greenpeace report states.

Aslihan Tumer, Greenpeace’s international nuclear project leader, says some of the companies are still profiting from the reactor.

“Nuclear suppliers are completely protected from accepting any liability or being held accountable in case of an accident,” he said.”GE designed Fukushima Mark 1 reactor, and GE, Hitachi and Toshiba built and continued servicing the reactor, and they are also still making, in some cases, money out of the cleaning efforts, as well as the contamination.”

With the operator TEPCO nationalized, the Japanese taxpayer is now paying most of the compensation bill for the disaster.

Source: Tokyo Times

Combination chemotherapy for primary treatment of high-risk gestational trophoblastic tumour.


This is an update of the original review that was published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2009, Issue 2. Gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN) are malignant disorders of the placenta that include invasive hydatidiform mole, choriocarcinoma, placental-site trophoblastic tumour (PSTT) and epithelioid trophoblastic tumour (ETT). Choriocarcinoma and invasive hydatidiform mole respond well to chemotherapy: low-risk tumours are treated with single-agent chemotherapy (e.g. methotrexate or actinomycin D), whereas high-risk tumours are treated with combination chemotherapy (e.g. EMA/CO (etoposide, methotrexate, actinomycin D, cyclophosphamide and vincristine)). Various drug combinations may be used for high-risk tumours; however, the comparative efficacy and safety of these regimens is not clear.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the efficacy and safety of combination chemotherapy in treating high-risk GTN. SEARCH
METHODS: For the original review, we searched the Cochrane Group Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; Issue 2, 2008), MEDLINE, EMBASE and CBM in May 2008. For the updated review, we searched Cochrane Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE and EMBASE to September 2012. In addition, we searched online clinical trial registries for ongoing trials.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs comparing first-line combination chemotherapy interventions in women with high-risk GTN.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently collected data using a data extraction form. Meta-analysis could not be performed as we included only one study.
MAIN RESULTS: We included one RCT of 42 women with high-risk GTN who were randomised to MAC (methotrexate, actinomycin D and chlorambucil) or the modified CHAMOCA regimen (cyclophosphamide, hydroxyurea, actinomycin D, methotrexate, doxorubicin, melphalan and vincristine). There were no statistically significant differences in efficacy of the two regimens; however women in the MAC group experienced statistically significantly less toxicity overall and less haematological toxicity than women in the CHAMOCA group. During the study period, six women in the CHAMOCA group died compared with one in the MAC group. This study was stopped early due to unacceptable levels of toxicity in the CHAMOCA group. We identified no RCTs comparing EMA/CO with MAC or other chemotherapy regimens. AUTHORS’
CONCLUSIONS: CHAMOCA is not recommended for GTN treatment as it is more toxic and not more effective than MAC. EMA/CO is currently the most widely used first-line combination chemotherapy for high-risk GTN, although this regimen has not been rigorously compared to other combinations such as MAC or FAV in RCTs. Other regimens may be associated with less acute toxicity than EMA/CO; however, proper evaluation of these combinations in high-quality RCTs that include long-term surveillance for secondary cancers is required. We acknowledge that, given the low incidence of GTN, RCTs in this field are difficult to conduct, hence multicentre collaboration is necessary.

Source: Cochrane database