Fortune Cookie Security Advice – February 2009

first_imgA worthless metric is one which fails to drive decisions, even when the metric result radically changes.The world of information security is full of metrics.  Sadly, many are worthless.  A valuable metric is one which drives decisions.  Unfortunately, our industry also persists in publishing metrics which may nicely fill graphs and catch attention with flash, but in the end are meaningless.  The true test: can it facilitate change.One of my favorite metrics to pick on is a graphic which shows the percentage of internet attacks by country.  Provided every year, this metric presentation is visually stunning, usually consisting of a background of the globe with offending countries in vibrant colors.  It is clear, attention grabbing, and even interesting in a sublime way.  Media outlets love the eye candy.  But at the end of the day, the data is meaningless.  It does not really matter where attacks initiate from.  Organizations will not change their course of security if the numbers shifted drastically over time.  The proximity and country of origin simply does not matter.  The number and types of attacks are far more relevant, but not the division of origin based upon international borders.Whenever we are presented with metrics, we must think critically to understand their value.  Don’t get caught up in beautiful graphics or catchy titles.  Challenge everything.  Would you do something differently in your approach to securing your environment if the data changed radically?  If not, then move along, nothing here to see.Fortune Cookie Security Advice – January 2009Fortune Cookie Security Advice – December 2008Fortune Cookie Security Advice – November 2008Fortune Cookie Security Advice – September 2008Fortune Cookie Security Advice – August 2008Fortune Cookie Security Advice – June 2008Fortune Cookie Security Advice – May 2008 Everyone wants information security to be easy.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it were simple enough to fit snugly inside a fortune cookie?  Well, although I don’t try to promote such foolish nonsense, I do on occasion pass on readily digestible nuggets to reinforce security principles and get people thinking how security applies to their environment.Common SenseI think the key to fortune cookie advice is ‘common sense’ in the context of security.  It must be simple, succinct, and make sense to everyone, while conveying important security aspects.Fortune Cookie advice for February:last_img read more

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Cloud Expo West Day 3 – “Cloud Buzz”

first_imgAnother bright early morning at the Cloud Expo, Day 3 kicks off with a power panel with Douglas Crockford, K. Scott Morrison, Treb Ryan, Jon Shende and David Rokita with the topic, Virtualization & Cloud Computing – A Tango for Two?”  I thought this would be great for people to really see where were the utilization of Cloud is going from 2010 going forward.  It would also answer questions about the redefining of Cloud Computing and the world of virtualization…hence…a tango for two? One question that helped clear the air on the path of Cloud was the curiosity of what happens when the fizzle of questions about cloud fizzles out? Will people be just as needy and excited about Cloud Computing many years out passed 2010? Or will it become “yesterday’s news?” I think that is truly a loaded question that depends on person, the job focus, the industry leaders, the companies. So I talked to David Rotika, one of the panelists, and ask his opinion. He had a good point that I have heard from a few other people recently in the Cloud event space – the term “CLOUD” really IS just a buzz word and a few years from now, it won’t seem like such a big deal to implement, instead, it will just be something we naturally apply in our everyday technology world. The buzz and hype over Cloud or calling it “Cloud” will be what fizzles out, but the questions and usage models, the next roadmaps, the next implementations will not fizzle, and there will always be answers. And as Rotika sees it, which may be true, “The best people in IT have been able to deliver and implement the Cloud.  Traditional IT is now just done better.” In other words, there will still be questions of Cloud…that follow with answers of continuously implementing. Ok. Tangent. Anyway, a few of the panelists pointed out the possibility that someone has yet to really “tap into” the  Cloud.  “This thing [Cloud] is really about applications.”  I keep hearing speakers say, “I remember back in the beginning of my career….early on…” from people in the tech industry for the last 15-25+ years.  This makes me think, or rather, wonder if the Cloud will be a consistent “buzz” in the virtual or any part of the tech world?  Fifteen years from now, will we be implementing the Cloud, applying the Cloud, if we “have yet to really tap out” on the Cloud, what or where do we think we will be in the conversation of Cloud then?  In addition, I am curious to know what other people think on this topic of whether or not all biz types are considered in?  SMBs?  Or just IT only?  Large companies only?  And what about all geos?  My question for the day, is…are SMBs often overlooked in the Cloud Conversation?last_img read more

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FXCM Counts on Intel® Xeon® Processors 5600 and 7500 Series for Speedy Trading Systems

first_imgDownload NowIn the foreign exchange market, a price change of one-hundredth of a penny can mean the difference between profit and loss for a trader. FXCM helps traders capitalize on these changes, which occur within milliseconds, by using technology that delivers rapid, intelligent trading executions and facilitates direct interactions with financial institutions. The company recently refreshed servers with the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 and 7500 series to accelerate trades, accommodate periodic usage spikes, and ensure high application availability while controlling data center real estate. “We do our homework,” explained Ivan Brightly, chief information officer for FXCM. “The performance, memory bandwidth, and energy efficiency of the Intel Xeon processor 5600 series made those processors a clear choice for our applications.”To learn more, download our new FXCM business success story. As always, you can find this one, and many others, in the Intel.com Reference Room and Survival Kit.last_img read more

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Using Converged Network Adapters for FCoE Network Unification

first_imgMany enterprises run two separate parallel networks in their data center.  Ethernet-based LANs are used to connect servers and clients and the internet.  Fiber channel based networks are used for connecting servers to SANs and block storage arrays for storing data,. @ajayc47 In late 2010 we determined that our existing 1GbE network infrastructure was no longer adequate to meet our rapidly growing business requirements and the resource demands of our increasingly virtualized environment.  Furthermore, to achieve the full benefits of the performance gains of the latest Intel processors and clustering technologies required network performance upgrades.  center_img Our solution, based on the extensive test results documented in this FCoE white paper, was to implement a unified network infrastructure using FCoE through dual-port 10Gb Intel Ethernet X520 server adapters.  As a result, we are able to reduce total network costs per server rack by more than 50% among other benefits described in the paper.  last_img read more

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SCCM* 2012 Rollup Hotfix released; addresses known AMT issues

first_imgYou can get the hotfix at the following URL:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2717295 Out of Band ManagementPower Control and Clear Audit Log collection-based actions fail for externally provisioned AMT clients. The amptopmgr.log file contains entries that resemble the following entry:Error: CSMSAMTDiscoveryTask::Execute, discovery to client_computer failed. General Worker Thread Pool: Error, Can not execute the task successfully. Remove it from task list. Microsoft has released a rollup hotfix for SCCM* 2012 that addresses a couple of issues for AMT clients that are externally provisioned with a tool like the Intel® Setup and Configuration Software.  If you are using SCCM* 2012 with the Intel® SCS, or plan  to, this patch is a must-have.Here’s what has been addressed in Microsoft’s own words:last_img read more

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Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Solutions – Powered by Intel Technology

first_imgToday, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Julia White, articulated their strategy and solutions for flexible hybrid clouds designed to deliver the best of public and private cloud. The announcements highlight several key areas of shared vision between our companies that will set our mutual customers up for success in the fast-moving, data-centric landscape.Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors are pervasive throughout Microsoft Azure’s hybrid cloud solutions. No matter where you run your workloads, Intel and Microsoft deliver powerful Intel Xeon platforms to deliver optimal performance. In addition, Microsoft makes extensive use of Intel® SSDs, which deliver storage performance and reliability.Julia White included news on Azure Data Box, an AI-powered solution for data classification, cleaning, and transfer between Azure-based clouds. At the heart of Azure Data Box is a truly innovative real-time AI solution developed by Microsoft and Intel based on Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel® Arria® 10 FPGAs. It’s a high-performance inferencing solution for edge-based deployments that demand AI close to the point of data origin.Microsoft also introduced Azure Stack HCI to their hybrid cloud line up for on-premises virtualized environments, providing a simplified way to connect to Azure services. Azure Stack HCI and Azure Cloud offer a rich foundation for hybrid cloud. Both solutions are powered by Intel Xeon Scalable Processors and Intel SSDs, so customers can expect high, consistent performance regardless of location.Intel® Select Solutions are workload-optimized, Intel-tested configurations that help accelerate deployment of today’s most in-demand software and infrastructure. We’re proud to partner with Microsoft on the Intel Select Solution for Azure Stack, and the Intel Select Solution for Azure Stack HCI, both of which will soon be updated with next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, Intel SSDs, and Intel Ethernet.The decades-long collaboration between Microsoft and Intel continues to deliver innovations and customer results.last_img read more

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Hunting the One Percent: Security Then and Now

first_imgIn the early days of Intel’s connection to the internet, (the mid- to late 90s), I was largely responsible for defending Intel from internet-originated threats, along with making sure that internet services were up and running. My strategy relied primarily on preventative controls, implemented through a complex series of router access lists, configuration, and DMZ zones with bastion hosts, all designed to harden the perimeter of Intel and protect the internal “safe” zone inside. Secondarily, I wrote custom scripts to implement detective controls that looked for a small number of “suspicious” traffic patterns. In today’s world, with BYOD, USB memory sticks, and highly motivated attackers, the perimeter is not so easy to define and secure.Threats are now so much more sophisticated that handcrafted scripts are simply not going to cut it for detective controls. The latest brief from IT@Intel, “Advanced Persistent Threats:  Hunting the One Percent,” reviews Intel IT’s strategy for dealing with the dangers of advanced persistent threats (APTs).“The threat landscape is constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, which means we have to do all we can to protect our assets, plans, and data from being leaked, compromised, or stolen.” – Brent Conran, Chief Information Security Officer, IntelUnlike my simple strategy that worked in the past, prevention cannot be the main strategy for dealing with APTs.  While traditional security architecture with firewalls, intrusion detection, etc., is still critical, Intel IT’s strategy is to operationalize them to deal with 99% of threats, and focus hunt teams on the most difficult 1% of threats that will make it through preventative controls. Detecting and responding, as shown in the figure, are key actions. Being able to accept data from multiple security appliances and correlate data from those disparate devices centrally is a key functionality for hunting. As the traditional perimeter changes, everyone inside of the organization needs to be security aware, becoming as Xochitl Monteon, Senior Director, Intel Cyber Security, mentions in a podcast, a human perimeter.It amazes me how security strategy has evolved since the days when I was directly involved in implementing security, making my previous work seem so simplistic. “Advanced Persistent Threats: Hunting the One Percent,” has even more insights and strategies than the ones I described above. In upcoming blog posts, I will highlight some of those individual strategies and tactics in more detail.last_img read more

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AP: Holdren Says Geoengineering Has “Got to Be Looked At”

first_imgSeth Borenstein reports that science adviser John Holdren has brought up the issue of studying manual tinkering with the climate, also known as geoengineering, within the government. At first, Holdren characterized the potential need to technologically tinker with the climate as just his personal view. However, he went on to say he has raised it in administration discussions.(Update 6pm: In light of headlines like this and this, Holdren spokesman Rick Weiss emailed ScienceInsider to say: “There was nothing in Dr. Holdren’s comments to the AP to suggest that the administration is actively pursuing or even currently envisioning a geo-engineering approach. The administration’s primary focus is still to seek comprehensive energy legislation that can get us closer to a clean energy economy, create green jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil while reducing the risks of climate change.”)It’s worth stressing that no U.S. government agency has proposed actually doing geoengineering, and Holdren’s not the first scientist within the government to consider studying the idea. Recently, we reported that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has considered funding research in this controversial area, and the Department of Energy considered the issue last year, discussing it with National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone, a climate scientist who has called for such research in the past. The Environmental Protection Agency also hosted geochemist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science last year for a talk on the issue.last_img read more

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Bucking Downturn, India Hands Science a Hefty Increase

first_imgNEW DELHI—Joining a global trend, India is giving science a boost in the face of the worldwide economic downturn. On 6 July, the newly elected government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented its first budget, which grants science agencies a roughly 12% increase over last year. The overall R&D budget is expected to be around $2.5 billion; the exact figure has not yet been tabulated.A big winner is India’s space program. The human space flight program will get $58 million in 2009, an 84% increase over last year, even as a proposal to launch two astronauts into a 400 kilometer low Earth orbit after 2017 awaits formal government approval. “I am happy with this continued support,” says G. Madhavan Nair, chair of the Indian Space Research Organization in Bangalore.Other highlights include higher education, which will receive a 26% increase in part to pay for the establishment of new elite Indian Institutes of Technology. Agencies that maintain databases of animal and plant diversity will get a one-time, $40 million grant for upgrading laboratories. Biomedical research and agricultural research did not find favor with the new government: Funding for these areas will remain at 2008 levels.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Indian scientists applaud the budget, noting that the global financial crisis could have given the government reason to scale back programs. “No complaints with the reasonable increases,” says chemist Thirumalachari Ramasami, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology in New Delhi. The government, he says, has sent a message that “it values knowledge generation and innovation.” Parliament is expected to approve the budget in the coming weeks.last_img read more

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House Joins Senate in Rebuffing Obama on Crewed Space Flight

first_imgIn yet another sign that Congress and the White House are a long way off from agreeing on NASA’s fate, the House science committee is considering an authorization bill that rejects the Administration’s proposed new direction for the space agency. The draft of the bill, which was posted online yesterday, comes on the heels of an authorization bill approved by a Senate panel last week, which also rebuffs the Administration’s proposal. The House bill would have NASA develop its own spacecraft to fly U.S. astronauts to low–Earth orbit by 2015, in contrast to the Administration’s plan to encourage commercial space companies to build such vehicles. The bill also wants NASA to develop a heavy-lift rocket by 2020 instead of merely selecting a heavy-lift design by 2015, which is what the Administration’s proposal commits to. And the bill provides only $150 million over the next 3 years to enable commercial flights to carry astronauts to the international space station and back, just a fraction of the $3.3 billion the Administration wants to spend on promoting commercial space flight. The Senate bill, by contrast, provides $1.6 billion over 3 years to help industry build commercial spacecraft that would help ferry astronauts into space. Like the House bill, it calls for immediate funding to develop a heavy-lift vehicle. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Of course, the future of human space flight is only one of dozens of topics addressed by the two bills. Both bills support the Administration’s plan to keep the International Space Station in operation until at least 2020. And both are in favor of the president’s plan to have NASA do more toward promoting science, math, and engineering education. However, the two bills are just one step in a long budget process that is bound to be contentious. The Senate committee authorization must now win approval from the full Senate; the House bill, which will be marked up on Thursday, must go through a committee vote and then be approved by the full House. Once the two authorizations are passed by the respective chambers, they must be reconciled. And then both the House and the Senate must approve appropriations to fund all of the authorized activities.last_img read more

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Energy Budget Slashes Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Research

first_imgWhat one hand giveth, the other taketh away. In the president’s 2012 budget proposal released today, the Administration recommends spending $8 billion on “clean energy and technology programs.” But hydrogen technology and fuel cells programs were largely left off the clean energy dream team. The Administration recommends cutting the hydrogen technology budget within the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by nearly $70 million, more than 41% below the 2010 level. It also zeros out the fuel cells program within DOE’s Office of Fossil Fuels. “Fiscal responsibility demands shared sacrifice—it means cutting programs we would not cut in better fiscal times,” wrote DOE Secretary Steven Chu in a message posted Friday on the DOE’s Web site. This is the second time Chu has tried to scale back the hydrogen program. The budget for the program reached its zenith in the final year of the Bush Administration (fiscal year 2008) at more than $206 million. It dropped to just below $200 million in FY 2009. In the FY 2010 budget, Chu recommended cutting $100 million in support for hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles. But Congress largely restored the money, keeping the hydrogen program budget at $174 million. In his newly posted message, Chu says the cuts are needed “in order to focus on technologies deployable at large scale in the near term.” So far that’s meant electric vehicles and gas-electric hybrids. The recent stimulus package offered billions of dollars in funding to support battery development for advanced plug-in hybrid vehicles. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Unsurprisingly, hydrogen and fuel cell proponents are vowing to fight the latest proposed cuts. They start by pointing at the more than $1.5 billion spent on the technology over the past 8 years. “After investing billions of American dollars and years of effort, we simply cannot walk away from our commitment to these technologies,” says Ruth Cox, president and executive director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FC&HEA) in Washington, D.C. The cuts are particularly troublesome, adds FC&HEA Policy Director James Warner, because fuel cells and hydrogen energy are two sets of clean energy technologies where the U.S. companies still maintain a lead. He says, “Are we willing to just give this up?” Besides, Warner adds, progress on the technology continues to be crisp, with the cost of fuel cells down 10-fold over the past decade, and their efficiency up between twofold and threefold. Still fighting to keep the money for hydrogen and fuel cells in the budget is likely to be harder than in years past. House of Representatives Republicans have proposed far deeper cuts to many agencies than the Obama Administration. One of the field’s main congressional champions, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) retired last year.last_img read more

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What Would Wiping Out the Commerce Department Mean for Science?

first_imgPresident Barack Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Commerce Department promises to reignite sharp debates about the best home for its sizable but patchwork research and technology portfolio. The Commerce Department now includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Census Bureau. Under Obama’s plan announced today, NOAA would migrate to the Department of the Interior, which is already home to the U.S. Geological Survey. The rest of Commerce’s scientific portfolio would be reconstituted under a new Cabinet department focused on trade and economic development. Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters today that it would be a “tightly knit department with four pillars.” NIST and the patent office would be part of a technology and innovation office within the new department, while the Census Bureau would join other data-collection agencies now in Commerce under a new statistical division that would also pick up the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the Department of Labor. A third office would oversee trade and investment policies, while the fourth would promote small business development. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) NOAA was created in 1970 along with the Environmental Protection Agency. But instead of becoming an independent agency or a part of the Interior Department, President Richard Nixon chose to place it in the Commerce Department. In contrast, NIST, until 1988 the National Bureau of Standards, has been in Commerce since 1903, as has the Census Bureau. The patent office joined the department in 1925. The changes are part of a broader effort by the Administration to make government more efficient, Zients explained. The first step, taken by executive order, elevates the Small Business Administration, headed by Karen Mills, to a Cabinet-level agency. But everything after that—demolition of the Commerce Department, the creation of a new department, and any additional government reshuffling—can’t happen unless Congress gives the president new authority to manage the executive branch. And that would take the sort of bipartisanship that’s rare in an election year and almost never seen these days on Capitol Hill. Today’s proposal needs to be further refined, Zients admitted during a teleconference with reporters. Asked how NOAA would be folded into the Interior Department, for example, Zients said that “the appropriate integration … will be worked out” in the months to come. He did say, however, that any plan “would make sure that we achieve NOAA’s mission.”last_img read more

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Share My Dabba

first_imgTonnes of food get wasted everyday. That amount of food can feed hundreds of children. That is the potential we are trying to work on. Related Itemslast_img

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Gene activation therapy prevents liver damage in mice

first_imgResearchers have found a way to deliver gene-activating molecules called transcription factors into specific tissues of a living animal for the first time. The approach, which many have written off as too technically challenging, prevented a form of liver damage in mice—though it has many more technical hurdles to clear before it can be used in other tissues, or in people.“This is a piece of very exciting work,” says Hsian-Rong Tseng, a chemist at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles. “It’s going to bring the field of transcription factor delivery to a different place.”Our cells produce more than a thousand unique transcription factors, each of which binds to a specific region of DNA to prompt a gene’s transcription: the creation from DNA of an RNA template for a new protein. Changing the activity of these factors could, for example, amp up the production of proteins that suppress tumors or reduce inflammation, and even reprogram adult cells into immature cells or new cell types. And unlike other gene therapy approaches that permanently introduce DNA to boost protein production, transcription factors break down and leave no lasting effect on the genome.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But cells have ways of shutting out or destroying relatively big proteins such as transcription factors when they are delivered from the outside rather than being made inside the cell, says Niren Murthy, a bioengineer at UC Berkeley. If a transcription factor gets into a cell at all, it will end up digested within a waste disposal organelle called the lysosome and will never make it to where it can turn on a gene—the nucleus. “That is still a big unsolved problem,” he says. And among proteins, transcription factors are particularly sensitive to chemical modification, he adds. Binding them to useful molecules that could interact with cell receptors or penetrate membranes often means changing their chemical structures so much that they no longer do their jobs.In 2011, Tseng’s group found a new way to deliver cumbersome transcription factors into cells without significantly changing their chemical structure. By attaching a transcription factor to a loop of DNA that contains the same sequence it is meant to recognize in the cell, and then wrapping it in a positively charged nanoparticle that can penetrate the cell membrane, they were able to deliver the proteins into human cells in a dish.In the new study, Murthy and colleagues built on this basic binding concept to attach a transcription factor to a chunk of DNA, but they used that DNA as a scaffold to hold several other molecules that come in handy on the transcription factor’s journey. This new complex, which they named a DNA assembled recombinant transcription factor (DART), includes two chemical chains that can disrupt a cell’s lysosome membrane. These are capped with sugar molecules that prevent them from working until the DART gets trapped in the highly acidic contents of the organelle. These sugars also initially aim the DART specifically at liver cells by interacting with receptors on their surfaces.For the first prototype DART, the group chose a well-studied transcription factor called Nrf2, which regulates several anti-inflammatory and antioxidant genes. “In animal models, it has literally been able to protect against every known inflammatory disease, ranging from Alzheimer’s to liver disease to atherosclerosis,” Murthy says. To test the DART’s ability to send this protein to the liver, the researchers first injected mice with a high dose of the pain reliever acetaminophen that would be expected to cause liver damage. An hour later, they injected Nrf2-bearing DARTs.They found that the DARTs were taken up primarily in the liver and increased the expression of three genes known to protect against oxidative stress. Liver samples from the DART-treated mice closely resembled those of healthy mice, while the livers of untreated mice showed significant damage, the group reports online today in Nature Materials.Those results are “quite dramatic,” says José Manautou, a toxicologist at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and the treatment could potentially be valuable for patients with acetaminophen overdose. But those patients usually arrive in the hospital a day after ingestion, not an hour, he says. Murthy’s team is now working on studies to see if the treatment can actually reverse existing damage, including the effects of chronic liver disease.Others are much more interested in seeing DARTs work on other tissues. “It’s relatively easy to get things taken up by liver cells,” says David Frank, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “That’s always kind of step one in any new delivery technology.” But he sees exciting potential in cancer, for example, if a DART could incorporate a mutated version of a transcription factor that would shut down genes that promote tumor growth.Murthy’s group doesn’t have immediate plans to work on targeting other tissues. The sugar they use in this study serves a handy dual purpose of disrupting membranes and targeting the liver. “In theory, you could do the same things with peptides and antibodies and things like that,” he says, “but the chemistry will get much more complicated.”Tseng, who has continued to work on his own transcription factor delivery method to reprogram adult cells into stem cells, is enthusiastic about the DART strategy. “We have been struggling trying to find out a good way of applying this transcription factor delivery story,” he says. “I couldn’t think of anything better at this stage.” But he warns that the proteins themselves are very expensive, which puts additional pressure on the use of transcription factor therapies. “If they work well, then I think cost may not be the issue,” he says, “but you need to find out the key applications, beyond liver damage.”last_img read more

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Identifying the gene switch that turns fat cells bad

first_imgResearchers may have finally explained how an obesity-promoting gene variant induces some people to put on the pounds. Using state-of-the-art DNA editing tools, they have identified a genetic switch that helps govern the body’s metabolism. The switch controls whether common fat cells burn energy rather than store it as fat. The finding suggests the tantalizing prospect that doctors might someday offer a gene therapy to melt extra fat away.Along with calories and exercise, genes influence a person’s tendency to gain—and keep—extra pounds. One of the genes with the strongest link to obesity is called FTO. People with certain versions of the gene are several kilos heavier on average and significantly more likely to be obese. Despite years of study, no one had been able to figure out what the gene does in cells or how it influences weight. There was some evidence FTO helped control other genes, but it was unclear which ones. Some researchers had looked for activity of FTO in various tissues, without finding any clear signals.Melina Claussnitzer, Manolis Kellis, and their colleagues at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, turned to data from the Roadmap Epigenomics Project, an 8-year effort that identified the chemical tags on DNA that influence the function of genes. The researchers used those epigenetic tags to look at whether FTO was turned on or off in 127 cell types. The gene seemed to be active in developing fat cells called adipocyte progenitor cells.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Following this clue, the researchers checked the activity of eight genes suspected of interacting with FTO in adipocyte progenitor cells from healthy European subjects. About half of the people carried the version of FTO associated with obesity risk and two genes, called IRX3 and IRX5, were more active in their cells than in those of people without the gene variant. That gene pair, in turn, seem to determine what kind of fat cells the progenitors form, the researchers report today in The New England Journal of Medicine.Increased activity of IRX3 and IRX5 prompt the developing cell to become a white adipocyte, which stores energy as fat. Lower levels lead to a beige adipocyte, which uses energy to produce heat. (Beige fat is best known for keeping animals warm in cold environments.) The version of FTO that can prompt weight gain apparently is unable to turn off IRX3 and IRX5, leaving the progenitor cells more likely to form white fat instead of beige fat.The researchers strengthened their case by using the increasingly popular gene-editing method called CRISPR-Cas9 to convert the obesity-promoting FTO variant to the more common version in adipocyte precursor cells, which had been collected from donors. The treated cells had lowered levels of IRX3 and IRX5, took on characteristics of beige adipocytes, and dramatically spun up their energy-burning machinery.Understanding how FTO works in fat cells “is of huge clinical relevance,” and the work is convincing, says Shingo Kajimura of the University of California, San Francisco, who studies the cell biology of obesity.Kellis predicts that doctors in the future will be able to flip the FTO switch to help obese people melt away extra pounds. “We now have the circuits, and can turn the knob to energy storage or energy dissipation,” he says.That might be possible someday, Kajimura agrees. But although the new work “suggests that beige fat is playing an important role in human obesity,” he cautions that it is not yet clear that increasing beige fat can induce weight loss, whether in experimental animals or humans.last_img read more

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Wild relatives of key crops not protected in gene banks, study finds

first_imgThe wild, sometimes scraggly cousins of grains and vegetables have a role to play in food security, but urgent action is needed to conserve them, says a new study published today in Nature Plants. The first global survey of the distribution and conservation of 1076 wild relatives of 81 crops finds that more than 95% are insufficiently safeguarded in the world’s gene banks, which store seeds and other plant tissues that can be used for future breeding efforts.Some 70% of the wild populations examined by the study, including the relatives of banana, cassava, wheat, and sorghum, are considered high priority for collection; 300 could not be located in any gene bank.Crop wild relatives are, in essence, evolutionary experiments. Without coddling from farmers, these hardy plants withstand drought, pests, and disease. As a result, they often evolve valuable traits that plant breeders could use to create varieties able to resist pests or maintain yields in the face of global warming. In the past, virus-resistant wild relatives of sugarcane and rice have helped produce new varieties that averted millions of dollars in losses.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) “Our findings capture which critical regions around the world hold the wild diversity we need for the stability of global agriculture,” says study co-author Colin Khoury, a crop diversity specialist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. Even though crop species have been moved all over the world, he says the historic home ranges of many crops are still relevant because wild relatives persist there.Some of these crop diversity hot spots include the Mediterranean, Near East, Asia, and southern Europe, the researchers found. And plants in these regions are facing growing threats, ranging from dramatic land-use change to civil unrest. “It’s a race against time to collect in areas that are war-torn, or subject to deforestation or rapid development,” says study co-author Nora Castañeda-Álvarez, a postdoc at CIAT.Because enhancing the conservation of crop wild relatives is one of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals, the authors suggest that the study’s numbers could be used as a baseline for measuring progress toward meeting conservation goals.Collecting crop wild relatives will require a massive global effort, the researchers suggest. In recent decades, however, seed conservation and sharing efforts have been hampered at times by concerns about biopiracy, as nations have negotiated numerous international treaties and agreements that regulate the collection, movement, and equitable use of seeds and other genetic resources. “This paper comes out of a global effort to reopen borders and share crop genetic resources,” Khoury says.One effort—the largest to date to systematically collect wild gene pools—is already underway in 17 countries. It focuses on securing the wild relatives of 29 of 64 crops that are listed in an annex to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. But crops not on that list, including the wild relatives of peanut, asparagus, or lettuce, are not included in the collecting effort, which is jointly run by the Kew Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst, U.K., and the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) in Bonn, Germany.Organizers ultimately hope to expand the effort to more countries, says Hannes Dempewolf, project manager at GCDT. But plant collectors have had difficulty negotiating agreements in certain countries for a variety of reasons, including a lack of suitable institutions to coordinate collecting work and the absence of seed-sharing regulations.Axel Diederichsen, curator of Plant Gene Resources of Canada in Saskatoon, says the new study’s effort to document and map missing wild diversity is valuable. Still, he questions whether the international gene bank system has the funding and infrastructure to absorb all of the at-risk populations. “Do we have the capacity to conserve, much less utilize, all this diversity?” he asks. “It’s not trivial.”last_img read more

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Even when sitting, tall people are better at judging distance

first_imgWhether spotting danger from across the desert or getting a good view at a concert, height has been an advantage for millennia. Now, new research suggests that how taller people learn to see the world helps them better judge distances in dark environments. When calculating the distance of an object, the human brain relies on cues learned over time to estimate depth. These cues can include the size of one object relative to others, how much texture the object appears to have, and the object’s perceived height from the ground. However, a dark room in which a person can see only the object removes many of the brain’s tools for judging distance. Researchers tested 24 people, split into two gender-equal groups of tall and short, by putting them in an unfamiliar, dark room with only dim red LED lights on the ground or the ceiling for reference. The subjects were shown a suspended Ping-Pong ball with an LED that flashed for 2 seconds. The Ping-Pong ball was then removed, and the subjects then had to walk across the room along a guide rope and indicate where they thought the ball had been. For the targets located more than 3 meters away, the taller subjects were better at accurately guessing the distance of the Ping-Pong ball, according to a study published today in the journal Science Advances. When the experiment was moved to a fully lit outdoor field, taller subjects were still better at guessing the distance of the Ping-Pong ball, even when they were made to sit and shorter subjects were allowed to stand. The researchers suspect that the tall advantage comes down to angle: The higher up a person’s eyes, the more easily they can look down and see the distance between two objects. With this additional information, a taller person’s brain creates a better internal map for processing distance that works—even when the lights don’t.last_img read more

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