Daily Articles

22 Oct 2018

  • Highway crashes up in states that legalized  marijuana

Highway crashes up in states that legalized marijuana

(by Nicholas Sakelaris, UPI) – — Highway crashes are increasing in four states that legalized recreational marijuana, a new study shows.

Crashes are up 6 percent in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada, a joint study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute shows. That’s compared to the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming where recreational marijuana isn’t legal.

The combined-state analysis is based on collision loss data from January 2012 to October 2017. Factors such as the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, urban versus rural differences, unemployment, weather, and seasonality were all taken into account.

But there’s no direct correlation because THC, the major active component in marijuana, remains in the system long after use. That makes it more difficult to determine if the driver was under the influence while driving, said Highway Loss Data Institute President David Harkey.

“It’s certainly early in the game,” Harkey told NBC News. “We’re seeing a trend in the wrong direction.”

Driving under the influence of drugs is illegal in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Oftentimes, drivers who are tested for alcohol have other drugs in their system, not just marijuana, making it harder to isolate.

“Despite the difficulty of isolating the specific effects of marijuana impairment on crash risk, the evidence is growing that legalizing its use increases crashes,” Harkey said.

The data show legalizing recreational marijuana use has a negative effect on road safety, Harkey said.

“States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety,” he said.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. And 30 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, with Oklahoma being the latest to join.

Legalization for recreational use is pending in New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Michigan and North Dakota will have referendums in November. Missouri and Utah could expand medical marijuana, also in November.

Canada legalized recreational marijuana nationwide Tuesday, becoming the second country in the world to do so. It’s still up to individual provinces to decide age limits and how much people can buy and where.

From UPI .com. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from United Press International (UPI).

 

Resource: Student news daily

  • Newly-Opened James Bond Museum In The Alps Is Licensed To Thrill Fans

James Bond movies are famous for their fast-paced, unexpected plot twists, smart gadgets, and jaw-dropping locations. Hence, it is only fitting for a museum dedicated to the fictional British Secret Service Agent – code number 007 – to be situated in a stunning, hard-to-reach location.

Open to the public since July 12, 2018, the 007 Elements museum sits at an altitude of 9,482 feet (3,000 meters) on the summit of the Gaislachkogl Mountain in Solden, Austria and is only accessible by cable car. Avid fans of the spy movies may recognize the venue from the action-packed snow chase sequence in the 2015 film Spectre.

The futuristic, mostly underground cinematic installation, built using high-tech steel and glass, spreads over an area of almost 14,000 square feet (1,300 square meters) inside the mountain.

Built by Austrian architectural firm Obermoser Arch-Om in collaboration with Neal Callow, the art director for the past four James Bond movies, it is designed to blend in with the pristine surroundings.

Chief designer Johann Obermoser says building a concrete structure into the permafrost of a mountain summit was a mission in itself.

The architect explains, “Geological fault lines, the exposed location on the peak and the extremely short building span created huge challenges. The crew could not work for more than a few weeks at a time. Therefore, the people and crew on site had to work on rotation shifts.

During the construction phase, the weather turned out as one of the worst winters in the last 15 years, snowfall started in July, while in winter, storms and massive snowfall prevented us from getting vehicles to the site, so we ended up having to fly the concrete in by helicopter.” Despite the hurdles, the project was completed within a year.

The immersive James Bond experience begins with the “Barrel of the Gun” tunnel, reminiscent of the title sequences and dramatic music synonymous with the famous spy films. The darkened entrance leads into an open-air plaza with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

After visitors have had their fill of the snow-capped mountains, they can enter the Lobby Room, which emulates Bond’s arrival into an enemy’s lair. Here, they are treated to a film outlining the history of the Bond movies from the very first movie, Dr. No, which was released in 1962, to the latest 2015 blockbuster, Spectre. Narrated by Sam Mendes, who directed Skyfall and Spectre, it sets the stage for the other exhibits.

Next is the Briefing Room, where visitors can gain insights into the selection of the areas where the movies are filmed. In the Tech Lab Room, fans can see up-close the cutting-edge gadgets and technology used by the Secret Service Agent over the years. The adjacent Action Hall showcases some of the special effects and stunts the movies are well-known for and also houses the airplane used in Spectre

The Screening Room elaborates on the Spectre action sequence that was filmed at the museum’s location and provides details on how the stunts were staged. Guests can end their homage to the British Secret Service Agent in the Legacy Gallery, which features an extensive 007 archive via interactive touch screens.

While the museum is permanent, the exhibits will be changed periodically to include upcoming James Bond movies. To make the process easier, the architects have built a 49-square-meter hatch in the roof to enable museum officials to lift out large items, such as the Spectre airplane, and replace it with other big items from future movies.

If you are planning on visiting the 007 Elements museum during the winter, be sure to wear your warmest clothing. For though it offers many modern amenities, heating is not among them. While that may appear odd given the extreme location, it is the only way to ensure that the permafrost surrounding the building does not melt.

Resources: Guardian.co.uk, Independent.ie, Telegraph.co.uk, NewAtlas.com

  • New fly species found in Indiana may indicate  changing the climate

Date: October 19, 2018

Source: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science

Summary: A new type of blow fly-spotted in Indiana points to shifting species populations due to climate change. Researchers have observed the first evidence of Lucilia cuprina in Indiana, an insect previously known to populate southern states from Virginia to California.

                  These are various Lucilia blow flies collected.
                     Credit: School of Science at IUPUI

 

A new type of blow fly-spotted in Indiana points to shifting species populations due to climate change. Researchers at IUPUI have observed the first evidence of Lucilia cuprina in Indiana, an insect previously known to populate southern states from Virginia to California.

Researchers recorded the L. cuprina species more than two dozen times from 2015 to 2017 in parks and other public places throughout Central Indiana. The fly was observed as far north as Michigan in the 1950s during a short period of warmer temperatures but had not been found in this region since then.

“As temperatures change and increase, the distributions of these insects will continue to change as well,” said Christine J. Picard, an associate professor of biology. “There is definitely a northward movement of species — not just insects, but all species — as they try to find temperatures where they are more comfortable.”

The movement of this species of fly into the Midwest could also have implications for forensic investigations involving decomposing remains. The growth and development of flies play an important role for scientists looking to learn how long a human or animal has been dead.

“With forensic science and forensic entomology, you should have an idea of which flies are present in your location in part because different species will have different development times,” Picard said.

The L. cuprina blow fly’s sister species Lucilla sericata is widely present in Indiana and is often used in forensic cases. Since the two species are so closely related, it’s difficult to tell them apart. If investigators don’t know they are dealing with an L. cuprinainstead of the more typically seen L. sericata, their data could be inaccurate.

  • First proof of quantum computer advantage

Date: October 18, 2018

Source: Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Summary: Quantum computers promise to revolutionize the future of computing. Scientists have now demonstrated for the first time that quantum computers do indeed offer advantages over conventional computers. They developed a quantum circuit that can solve a problem that is unsolvable using any equivalent classical circuit.

The layout of IBM’s four superconducting quantum bit device.

Credit: IBM Research

For many years, quantum computers were not much more than an idea. Today, companies, governments, and intelligence agencies are investing in the development of quantum technology.
Robert König, professor for the theory of complex quantum systems at the TUM, in collaboration with David Gosset from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and Sergey Bravyi from IBM, has now placed a cornerstone in this promising field.

 

Why should quantum computers be faster?

Conventional computers obey the laws of classical physics. They rely on the binary numbers 0 and 1. These numbers are stored and used for mathematical operations.

In conventional memory units, each bit — the smallest unit of information — is represented by a microscopic dot on a microchip. Each of these dots can hold a charge that determines whether the bit is set to 1 or 0.

In a quantum computer, however, a bit can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. This is because the laws of quantum physics allow electrons to be in multiple places at one time. Quantum bits, or qubits, thus exist in multiple overlapping states.

This so-called superposition allows quantum computers to perform operations on many values in one fell swoop whereas a single conventional computer typically must execute these operations sequentially. The promise of quantum computing lies in the ability to solve certain problems significantly faster.

From conjecture to proof

König and his colleagues have now conclusively demonstrated the advantage of quantum computers. To this end, they developed a quantum circuit that can solve a specific “difficult” algebraic problem.

The new circuit has a simple structure: it only performs a fixed number of operations on each qubit. Such a circuit is referred to as having a constant depth. In their work, the researchers prove that the problem at hand cannot be solved using classical constant-depth circuits.

They furthermore answer the question of why the quantum algorithm beats any comparable classical circuit: The quantum algorithm exploits the non-locality of quantum physics.

Prior to this work, the advantage of quantum computers had neither been proven nor experimentally demonstrated — notwithstanding that evidence pointed in this direction. One example is Shor’s quantum algorithm, which efficiently solves the problem of prime factorization.

However, it is merely a complexity-theoretic conjecture that this problem cannot be efficiently solved without quantum computers. It is also conceivable that the right approach has simply not yet been found for classical computers.

A step on the road to quantum computing

Robert König considers the new results primarily as a contribution to complexity theory. “Our result shows that quantum information processing really does provide benefits — without having to rely on unproven complexity-theoretic conjectures,” he says. Beyond this, the work provides new milestones on the road to quantum computers.

Because of its simple structure, the new quantum circuit is a candidate for a near-term experimental realization of quantum algorithms.

Further information

The results have fallen on the fertile ground in Munich: A globally acclaimed quantum technology research focus has been established here in recent years, with a new research building for quantum research under construction at the TUM in Garching.

In September the TUM, together with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), was awarded the contract for the Cluster of Excellence Munich Center for Quantum Science and Technology (MCQST).

  • Arctic greening thaws permafrost boosts runoff

Study finds shrubs trap snow, creating permanently thawed zones that destroy permafrost and create pathways for increased water and carbon flow

Date: October 17, 2018

Source: DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

Summary: A new collaborative study has investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north’s tundra and vast permafrost system. Incorporating extensive in situ observations, scientists tested their theories with a novel 3D computer model and confirmed that shrubs can lead to significant degradation of the permafrost layer that has remained frozen for tens of thousands of years. These interactions are driving increases in discharges of fresh water into rivers, lakes, and oceans.

NGEE-Arctic researchers from Los Alamos, University of Alaska Fairbanks and Oak Ridge National Laboratory dig deep snow pits in tall shrub patches to understand the warming effect of Snow-shrub interactions on underlying permafrost.
Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory
A new collaborative study has investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north’s tundra and vast permafrost system. Incorporating extensive in situ observations, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists tested their theories with a novel 3D computer model and confirmed that shrubs can lead to significant degradation of the permafrost layer that has remained frozen for tens of thousands of years.
These interactions are driving increases in discharges of fresh water into rivers, lakes, and oceans.

“The Arctic is actively greening, and shrubs are flourishing across the tundra. As insulating snow accumulates atop tall shrubs, it boasts significant ground warming,” said Cathy Wilson, Los Alamos scientist on the project. “If the trend of increasing vegetation across the Arctic continues, we’re likely to see a strong increase in permafrost degradation.”

The team investigated interactions among shrubs, permafrost, and subsurface areas called taliks. Taliks are unfrozen ground near permafrost caused by a thermal or hydrological anomaly. Some tunnel-like taliks called “through taliks” extend over thick permafrost layers.

Results of the Los Alamos study published in Environmental Research Letters this week revealed that through taliks developed where snow was trapped, warmed the ground and created a pathway for water to flow through deep permafrost, significantly driving thawing and likely increasing water and dissolved carbon flow to rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Computer simulations also demonstrated that the thawed active layer was abnormally deeper near these through taliks and that increased shrub growth exacerbates these impacts.

Notably, the team subtracted warming trends from the weather data used to drive simulations, thereby confirming that the shrub-snow interactions were causing degradation even in the absence of warming.

The Los Alamos team and collaborators from the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments Arctic program, which funds this project, used a new Los Alamos-developed fine-scale model, the Advanced Terrestrial Simulator (ATS).

It incorporates soil physics and captures permafrost dynamics. The team repeatedly tested results against experimental data from Alaska’s Seward Peninsula.

“These simulations of through talik formation provide clues as to why we’re seeing an increase in winter discharge in the Arctic,” said Los Alamos postdoctoral research associate Elchin Jafarov, first author on the paper.

This model is the first to show how snow and vegetation interact to impact permafrost hydrology with through talk formation on a slope prevalent across the Alaskan terrain. \

The team, including collaborators from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Alaska, investigated how quickly through talks developed at different permafrost depths, their impact on hydrology and how they interrupted and altered continuous permafrost.

  • Vast leukemia dataset could help researchers match therapies to patients

Date: October 17, 2018

Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Summary: Data on the molecular makeup and drug sensitivity of hundreds of patient samples could accelerate progress against the aggressive blood cancer acute myeloid leukemia.

With a new dataset describing hundreds of samples from AML patients, researchers can learn what drugs may work best for specific subsets of patients. This image relates sensitivity to the cancer drug ibrutinib to co-occurrences of two types of genetic changes found in tumor samples.
Credit: J. Tyner et al./ Nature 2018
After years of work, researchers are releasing a massive dataset detailing the molecular makeup of tumor cells from more than 500 patients with an aggressive blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
The dataset includes how hundreds of individual patients’ cells responded to a broad panel of drugs in laboratory screens.

 

It is the largest cancer dataset of its kind and could rapidly advance clinical trials evaluating potential AML treatments, says Brian Druker, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) who led the work with his colleague Jeffrey Tyner, also from OHSU.

Using a new online data viewer, researchers can now find out in minutes what kinds of targeted therapies are most effective against specific subsets of AML cells. “People can get online, search our database, and very quickly get answers to ‘Is this a good drug?’ or ‘Is there a patient population my drug can work in?'” Druker says. He and colleagues report the work October 17, 2018, in the journal Nature.

About 20,000 people are diagnosed with AML every year in the U.S cancer begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and is most commonly diagnosed in older adults. AML has the poorest prognosis of any blood cancer.

Over the last 40 years, advances in treatment for the disease have stalled; five-year survival rates for patients over 60 are still less than 10 percent.

The FDA has approved a few targeted therapies for treating AML in specific subsets of patients, but even when patients respond to these treatments, relapses are common. “We know a lot about this leukemia, but there’s still a long way to go,” Druker says.

Developing effective therapies for AML has been challenging because the molecular factors that drive the disease vary significantly among patients.

Researchers have identified at least 11 genetic classes of AML and uncovered thousands of different mutations among patients’ cancer cells.

Targeted cancer therapies, which attempt to eliminate cancer cells by exploiting their specific molecular vulnerabilities, may only work when given to patients whose AML has the right molecular features. Until now, researchers haven’t had a clear map to identify the best candidates for specific treatments.

The new study reports initial findings from the BeatAML program, which is now moving into a clinical trial. Druker’s team, which includes collaborators at 11 academic medical centers and 11 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, collected and analyzed 672 samples of cancer cells from 562 patients.

The team’s work, which was also supported by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, includes the complete DNA sequence of each sample’s protein-coding genes, as well as profiles of gene activity. The team also assessed how tumor cells from 409 of the samples responded to each of 122 different targeted therapies.

“The real power comes when you start to integrate all that data,” Druker says. “You can analyze what drug worked and why it worked.” That, he says, is the foundation for planning clinical trials to test new therapies in the patients who are most likely to respond.

In their own analysis, Druker and his colleagues have identified a set of three genetic mutations that may make AML patients good candidates for treatment with ibrutinib.

That drug is currently approved for the treatment of some other types of blood cancer. AML cells carrying all three mutations are significantly more sensitive to ibrutinib than cells with just one or two of those mutations, the team found.

Clinical trials will be needed to evaluate ibrutinib’s effects in this group of patients but tying the mutation trio to a potential drug sensitivity showcases how the new dataset can help researchers. “We’re just starting to scratch the surface of what we can do when we analyze the data,” Druker says.

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