Treating HIV with an antibody can reduce the levels of the virus in people's bodies — at least temporarily, scientists report on 8 April in Nature1. The approach, called passive immunization, involves infusing antibodies into a person's blood. Several trials are under way in humans, and researchers hope that the approach could help to prevent, treat or even cure HIV. The work is a milestone towards those goals, says Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. “This is an early study, but it’s a study with some impressive results,” he says.Researchers tested four different doses of an HIV antibody called 3BNC117 in 29 people in the United States and Germany. Seventeen of the participants had HIV, and 15 of those were not taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at the time of the study. One infusion of the highest dose of antibody, given to 8 participants, cut the amount of virus in their blood by between 8 and 250 times for 28 days.But much work remains to determine whether the approach can produce longer-lasting effects and whether it is practical for clinical use. Previous studies have shown that passive immunization can reduce levels of HIV in the blood of monkeys and mice, although the approach has not worked as well in humans2.But the antibodies used in those earlier clinical tests were of an older generation that could not neutralize many different strains of HIV. Researchers have spent much of the past decade trying to find 'broadly neutralizing' antibodies that are more widely effective against the virus, and the 3BNC117 antibody belongs to this class.The price of treatment with this approach is also a concern. Antibodies can cost thousands of dollars for each course of treatment, and the majority of people with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries, some of which are already fighting drug companies over the high cost of antibody medicines. “The practicality, utility and efficacy of this approach are hugely open questions,” says Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, a global organization that advocates HIV prevention and is headquartered in New York City.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
scientist Marc-Oliver Gewaltig and his team at the Human Brain Project (HBP) built a model mouse brain and a model mouse body, integrating them both into a single simulation and providing a simplified but comprehensive model of how the body and the brain interact with each other. "Replicating sensory input and motor output is one of the best ways to go towards a detailed brain model analogous to the real thing," explains Gewaltig.
As computing technology improves, their goal is to build the tools and the infrastructure that will allow researchers to perform virtual experiments on mice and other virtual organisms. This virtual neurorobotics platform is just one of the collaborative interfaces being developed by the HBP. A first version of the software will be released to collaborators in April. The HBP scientists used biological data about the mouse brain collected by the Allen Brain Institute in Seattle and the Biomedical Informatics Research Network in San Diego. These data contain detailed information about the positions of the mouse brain's 75 million neurons and the connections between different regions of the brain. They integrated this information with complementary data on the shapes, sizes and connectivity of specific types of neurons collected by the Blue Brain Project in Geneva.
A simplified version of the virtual mouse brain (just 200,000 neurons) was then mapped to different parts of the mouse body, including the mouse's spinal cord, whiskers, eyes and skin. For instance, touching the mouse's whiskers activated the corresponding parts of the mouse sensory cortex. And they expect the models to improve as more data comes in and gets incorporated. For Gewaltig, building a virtual organism is an exercise in data integration. By bringing together multiple sources of data of varying detail into a single virtual model and testing this against reality, data integration provides a way of evaluating – and fostering – our own understanding of the brain. In this way, he hopes to provide a big picture of the brain by bringing together separated data sets from around the world. Gewaltig compares the exercise to the 15th century European data integration projects in geography, when scientists had to patch together known smaller scale maps. These first attempts were not to scale and were incomplete, but the resulting globes helped guide further explorations and the development of better tools for mapping the Earth, until reaching today's precision.
Stephen Hawking has set the world of physics back on its heels by reversing his lifetime’s work and a pillar of modern physics.He claims that black holes do not exist – saying that the idea of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole -- the awesome gravitational pull created by the collapse of a star will be so strong that nothing can break free including light -- is flawed.Hawking proposes that instead of an inescapable event horizon, we should think of an “apparent horizon”. “The absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes — in the sense of regimes from which light can't escape to infinity.” “There is no escape from a black hole in classical theory. [But quantum theory] enables energy and information to escape from a black hole," Hawking told Nature. His revised theory allows matter and energy to be held for a period of time before being released back into space. Hawking says that his revsion requires a new theory that merges gravity with the other fundamental forces of nature. “The correct treatment remains a mystery,” he observed.
Via Sepp Hasslberger
A Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) describe a new vision for science learning and teaching that is catalyzing improvements in science classrooms across the United States. Achieving this new vision will require time, resources, and ongoing commitment from state, district, and school leaders, as well as classroom teachers. Successful implementation of the NGSS will ensure that all K-12 students have high-quality opportunities to learn science. Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards provides guidance to district and school leaders and teachers charged with developing a plan and implementing the NGSS as they change their curriculum, instruction, professional learning, policies, and assessment to align with the new standards. For each of these elements, this report lays out recommendations for action around key issues and cautions about potential pitfalls. Coordinating changes in these aspects of the education system is challenging. As a foundation for that process, Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards identifies some overarching principles that should guide the planning and implementation process. The new standards present a vision of science and engineering learning designed to bring these subjects alive for all students, emphasizing the satisfaction of pursuing compelling questions and the joy of discovery and invention. Achieving this vision in all science classrooms will be a major undertaking and will require changes to many aspects of science education. Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards will be a valuable resource for states, districts, and schools charged with planning and implementing changes, to help them achieve the goal of teaching science for the 21st century.
"We have launched WizIQ Recordor: an amazing lecture-recording software designed exclusively for your teaching needs. This software lets you convert your PowerPoint presentations into synchronized video lectures, publish them to WizIQ (add them to Content Library), and share them with your students right from your desktop- something which no other software has enabled you to do until now. And yes, it’s absolutely free!
"WizIQ Recordor (yes, it’s spelt with an “OR” not “ER”. No pun intended!) runs as an add-in to Microsoft PowerPoint and works seamlessly with WizIQ. Install this add-in and a few clicks is all it takes to create an effective MP4 video lecture using your presentation. This add-in allows you to record your live audio and sync it with presentation slides."
Combining projection mapping and a pop-up book, Marco Tempest tells the visually arresting story of Nikola Tesla -- called “the greatest geek who ever lived” -- from his triumphant invention of alternating current to his penniless last days.
Most climatologists, ecologists, and even the World Bank have all reached a consensus that climate change is occurring. Experts and policymakers alike have attributed rising concentrations of carbon dioxide to net warming, but finding straightforward evidence of this can be difficult. Now, a team of researchers claims that they have identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted in a mathematical proof.
Solar power just hit one of its biggest milestones, in more ways than one. First Solar recently finished building Topaz, a 550-megawatt plant that represents the largest active solar farm on the planet.
Atoms with the same number of protons belong to the same element. Atomic nuclei with the same number of protons and different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. The elements up to uranium (element 92) exist in nature (except for technetium ). The elements heavier than uranium are man-made. All elements are arranged in the periodic table of the elements. Their positions in the periodic table correspond to their proton number; elements in the same column (i.e., in the same group) feature similar and electronic shell structure, which characterizes the chemical behavior of an element. An element's position in the periodic table and thus provides information on its chemical behavior, e.g., as a metal or an inert gas.If atomic nuclei have too many protons (all of which repel each other) or have an this ratio is unfavorable proton to neutron ratio, the nuclei are not stable but undergo radioactive decay. The elements up to the element fermium (which has atomic number 100) can be produced at research reactors by irradiating a target of a heavy element with neutrons. The target atoms capture a neutrons and subsequently decay through β--emission, thus forming an element with the next higher proton number. This process can be repated, up to fermium.As there are no isotopes of fermium which decay through β--emission, no elements with higher proton number can be synthesized by this method.The heavier an atom is, the more protons are contained in its nucleus. With increasing proton number, the repulsive force of these protons will eventually lead to immediate disintegration of the nucleus. The elements with a proton number higher than 103 can only exist due to nuclear shell effects and are called the superheavy elements. A topic of intense research concerns the question of the heaviest possible element. To date, all elements up to element 112 as well as elements 114 and 116 are officially recognized as discovered, and reports about the observation also of element 113,115, 117, and 118 are also published. It is currently not clear, which element is the heaviest one that can exist.The production of 265Sg and its separation in GARIS was perfected in preparatory work led by Dr. Hiromitsu Haba from RIKEN Nishina Center (RNC) and his team. In this nuclear reaction, a few Sg atoms per hour can be produced.Seaborgium hexacarbonyl – Why is it so special?Carbon monoxide (CO) is known to form complexes with many transition metals. In 1890, Ludwig Mond, Carl Langer and Friedrich Quincke reported of the first synthesis of a carbonyl complex – nickeltetracarbonyl ( Ni(CO)4; see here). In this compound, the nickel (Ni) atom is surrounded by 4 carbon monoxide molecules (CO).In this type of molecule, coordination bonds (rather than covalent bonds) form between the metal and the carbon monoxide.The carbon monoxide ligands bind to the metal by forming a so-called σ-donation bond, and a π-backbond from the metal to the carbon monoxide ligand establishes. In the σ-donation bond the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of the CO donates electron density into the σ-symmetric orbitals of the metal (s or p1/2 or dz2 orbitals). In the π-backbonding, electron density for the π-symmetric d-orbital is donated to the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of the CO-ligand. The σ-donation bond is the strongest bond, while the π-backbond is slightly weaker.Synthesis of carbonyl complexes with fusion products directly behind the target in a CO-containing atomosphere is not possible, as the primary beam would pass the gas and create a plasma. This would destroy the CO molecules. Therefore, only our new approach to perform chemical experiments behind a separator like TASCA or GARIS allows the synthesis and study of this compound class.Chemistry experiments with superheavy elements - with periodic numbers higher than 104 – are difficult to perform. First, scientists have to produce the element artificially in a particle accelerator. The production rates are really low, usually lower than a few atoms per day. Furthermore, these atoms are very instable, and survive in the best case less than 10 seconds. However, science is still very interested to investigate the characteristics of these superheavy elements, since they allow to test the influence of Einstein's relativity theory on chemistry. The high number of positively charged protons in the atomic nucleus of superheavy elements accelerate the electrons in the different shells to extremely high velocities - close to 80% of the speed of light. Due to the relativistic effects at these speeds, electrons are much heavier than when they are at rest, which in turn should have some influence on the chemical properties of the superheavy atom. These effects will be compared with elements that possess a similar atomic structure but are lighter. Such studies will be of enormous interest to all basic chemists in the world.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
MIT researchers have developed a new, ultrasensitive magnetic-field detector that is 1,000 times more energy-efficient than its predecessors. It could lead to miniaturized, battery-powered devices for medical and materials imaging, contraband detection, and even geological exploration.Magnetic-field detectors, or magnetometers, are already used for all those applications. But existing technologies have drawbacks: Some rely on gas-filled chambers; others work only in narrow frequency bands, limiting their utility.Synthetic diamonds with nitrogen vacancies (NVs) — defects that are extremely sensitive to magnetic fields — have long held promise as the basis for efficient, portable magnetometers. A diamond chip about one-twentieth the size of a thumbnail could contain trillions of nitrogen vacancies, each capable of performing its own magnetic-field measurement.The problem has been aggregating all those measurements. Probing a nitrogen vacancy requires zapping it with laser light, which it absorbs and re-emits. The intensity of the emitted light carries information about the vacancy’s magnetic state.“In the past, only a small fraction of the pump light was used to excite a small fraction of the NVs,” says Dirk Englund, the Jamieson Career Development Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and one of the designers of the new device. “We make use of almost all the pump light to measure almost all of the NVs.”The MIT researchers report their new device in the latest issue of Nature Physics.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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