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Harvard researchers discover hormon that spurs beta cell production. Monthly alternative to insulin?

Harvard researchers discover hormon that spurs beta cell production. Monthly alternative to insulin? | Scientific anomalies |

Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic illness afflicting an estimated 26 million Americans. It could eventually mean that instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might take an injection of this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case maybe even once a year,” said Doug Melton (right). Melton and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi discovered the hormone betatrophin, which has the potential to improve diabetes treatment.


Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic illness afflicting an estimated 26 million Americans. The researchers believe that the hormone might also have a role in treating type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.


The hormone, called betatrophin, causes mice to produce insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate. The new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body, offering the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a great reduction in the complications associated with diabetes, the leading medical cause of amputations and non-genetic loss of vision.


The researchers who discovered betatrophin, HSCI co-director Doug Meltonand postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi, caution that much work remains to be done before it could be used as a treatment in humans. But the results of their work, which was supported in large part by a federal research grant, already have attracted the attention of drug manufacturers.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Biosciencia's curator insight, April 28, 2013 7:10 AM

The work was published today by the journal Cell as an early online release.

CAEXI BEST's curator insight, April 28, 2013 7:34 PM
Les chercheurs de Harvard viennent de  découvrir une hormone qui stimule la production de cellules bêta. Remplacement mensuel à l'insuline?
Center for Accessible Living NKY's curator insight, May 6, 2013 12:28 AM

More on the new possible treatment for juvenile diabetes.

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Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Geography Education!

Wall for nothing: the misjudged but growing taste for border fences

Wall for nothing: the misjudged but growing taste for border fences | Scientific anomalies |

"Globalisation was supposed to tear down barriers, but security fears and a widespread refusal to help migrants and refugees have fuelled a new spate of wall-building across the world, even if experts doubt their long-term effectiveness. When the Berlin Wall was torn down a quarter-century ago, there were 16 border fences around the world. Today, there are 65 either completed or under construction, according to Quebec University expert Elisabeth Vallet."

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, September 18, 12:11 PM

This is an intriguing opinion piece that would be good fodder for a class discussion on political geography or the current events/refugee crisis. 

Tags: borders, political.

Nflfootball Live's curator insight, September 19, 8:04 AM

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, September 23, 3:53 PM

unit 2 or 4

Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Geography Education!

Living in the Shadow of Industrial Farming

"The world eats cheap bacon at the expense of North Carolina's rural poor." 

Via Seth Dixon
Bonnie Bracey Sutton's curator insight, August 17, 1:50 PM

Industrial farming, manure lagoons... do you know this type of farming?

Lilydale High School's curator insight, August 17, 7:33 PM

Consequences of living near industrial sites - even if it is farming.

Matthew Richmond's curator insight, September 28, 12:23 PM

This is pretty insane. I've seen other video's where it is a similar situation around chicken farms in the U.S. The people can't even go outside most of the time due to the smell, and it makes me wonder how much of the way we eat is truly devastating the planet. Beyond the smell, I can't help wonder what these types of farms would do the ground water beneath.

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Motion of Tectonic Plates

"This video is from the BBC documentary film Earth: The Power Of The Planet.  The clip is also embedded in this story map that tells the tale of Earth’s tectonic plates, their secret conspiracies, awe-inspiring exhibitions and subtle impacts on the maps and geospatial information we so often take for granted as unambiguous."

Tags: physical, tectonics, disasters, mapping, geospatial, mapping, video, ESRI.

Via Seth Dixon
Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Geography Education!

Unkind Architecture: Designing Against the Homeless

Unkind Architecture: Designing Against the Homeless | Scientific anomalies |

"Defensive architecture is revealing on a number of levels, because it is not the product of accident or thoughtlessness, but a thought process. It is a sort of unkindness that is considered, designed, approved, funded and made real with the explicit motive to exclude and harass. It reveals how corporate hygiene has overridden human considerations…"

Via Seth Dixon
Sallyann Griffin's insight:

Just another sign of what the human race is becoming - heartless, with no moral sense at all.

Norka McAlister's curator insight, April 5, 7:58 PM

The government should try to develop better methods to keep homeless out of the street. Planning and designating a place to the homeless group by offering better conditions, will change the problem.  As the architects have new ideas to resolve a problem with the homeless, they should also be formulating ideas to prevent homelessness such as providing feasible shelter on the street. Part of the problem is that shelters should be marketed in the communities. Local businesses, policies and general communities could be more active in helping these minority groups to get aid and better their life. Cities should provide more programs and aid for the homeless group. 

Eden Eaves's curator insight, May 24, 8:07 PM

These structures such as benches with dividers that make it impossible to lie down, spikes and protrusions on window ledges and in front of store windows, forests of pointed cement structures under bridges and freeways, emissions of high pitched sounds, and sprinklers that intermittently go off on sidewalks to prevent camping overnight are very rude and without a shadow of a doubt send a message to the homeless that they aren't welcomed, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure they cannot be comfortable; even something as simple as sitting on a windowsill.  

Logan Haller's curator insight, May 25, 7:11 PM

This article deals with unit 7 because it discusses architecture and new  things in cities. In some cities they have defensive architecture to make it harder for homeless people to live. For example benches with dividers, and pointed cement structures under bridges. This tells the homeless they are unwanted and that others don't care about them.Some corporations have turned to aggressive ways to keep out homeless and the article says the government is denying it. In addition there are few resources to help the homeless and what they do have is insufficient. It also notes that free shelters are very rare. The author says that we should worry a little more about the homeless because "given just the right turn of events, it could happen to us."

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Are 75% of Australia's living species still unknown?

Are 75% of Australia's living species still unknown? | Scientific anomalies |

Australia may be known for its unique plants and animals, but how many do we actually know about? Jo Harding is the manager of Bush Blitz, a program supported by federal and state government agencies and research institutions, which documents plants and animals around Australia, leading to the discovery of hundreds of new species.

Ms. Harding states: "There's estimated to be about 75 per cent of Australia's biodiversity that's largely unknown. So there's certainly a lot out there still to find. We've discovered 700 new species so far, that's over the last approximately four years, and we're still counting."


The word 'biodiversity' has a complex scientific definition, but generally speaking, it is used as a catch-all phrase for all plants, animals and other living organisms in a particular area, a spokeswoman for Bush Blitz said.


It covers all types of plants (including algae) and fungi as well as vertebrates (such as mammals, reptiles, fish and birds) and invertebrates (such as insects and octopuses) in both marine and land environments.


A recent CSIRO publication on biodiversity says the scientific definition "includes more than just organisms themselves". "Its definition includes the diversity of the genetic material within each species and the diversity of ecosystems that those species make up, as well as the ecological and evolutionary processes that keep them functioning and adapting," the publication said.

"Biodiversity is not simply a list of species, therefore. It includes the genetic and functional operations that keep the living world working, so emphasizing inter-dependence of the elements of nature."

Undescribed species are species that may have been found before, maybe in different areas or by different people, but which haven't been formally identified. It is then up to an expert to examine the specimen to ensure it really is an undescribed species. The expert will then write a description for the species. Once the description of the new species has been established and published, it is called a described specimen.


Ms Harding's claim that about 75 per cent of Australia's biodiversity is unknown is based on a 2009 report published by the federal environment department. It aggregates information from a large number of sources and previous studies to calculate the number of species already discovered and estimate the number of species yet to be discovered both around the world and in Australia.


It determined that Australia had 147,579 "accepted described species", 26 per cent of its estimated total Australian species.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Fabric of Reality: The origins of space and time - If space and time are not fundamental, what is?

Fabric of Reality: The origins of space and time - If space and time are not fundamental, what is? | Scientific anomalies |
Many researchers believe that physics will not be complete until it can explain not just the behaviour of space and time, but where these entities come from.


“Imagine waking up one day and realizing that you actually live inside a computer game,” says Mark Van Raamsdonk, describing what sounds like a pitch for a science-fiction film. But for Van Raamsdonk, a physicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, this scenario is a way to think about reality. If it is true, he says, “everything around us — the whole three-dimensional physical world — is an illusion born from information encoded elsewhere, on a two-dimensional chip”. That would make our Universe, with its three spatial dimensions, a kind of hologram, projected from a substrate that exists only in lower dimensions.


This 'holographic principle' is strange even by the usual standards of theoretical physics. But Van Raamsdonk is one of a small band of researchers who think that the usual ideas are not yet strange enough. If nothing else, they say, neither of the two great pillars of modern physics — general relativity, which describes gravity as a curvature of space and time, and quantum mechanics, which governs the atomic realm — gives any account for the existence of space and time. Neither does string theory, which describes elementary threads of energy. Van Raamsdonk and his colleagues are convinced that physics will not be complete until it can explain how space and time emerge from something more fundamental — a project that will require concepts at least as audacious as holography.


But, where is the evidence that there actually is anything more fundamental than space and time? A provocative hint comes from a series of startling discoveries made in the early 1970s, when it became clear that quantum mechanics and gravity were intimately intertwined with thermodynamics, the science of heat. In 1974, most famously, Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge, UK, showed that quantum effects in the space around a black hole will cause it to spew out radiation as if it was hot. Other physicists quickly determined that this phenomenon was quite general. Even in completely empty space, they found, an astronaut undergoing acceleration would perceive that he or she was surrounded by a heat bath. The effect would be too small to be perceptible for any acceleration achievable by rockets, but it seemed to be fundamental. If quantum theory and general relativity are correct — and both have been abundantly corroborated by experiment — then the existence of Hawking radiation seemed inescapable.


A second key discovery was closely related. In standard thermodynamics, an object can radiate heat only by decreasing its entropy, a measure of the number of quantum states inside it. And so it is with black holes: even before Hawking's 1974 paper, Jacob Bekenstein, now at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, had shown that black holes possess entropy. But there was a difference. In most objects, the entropy is proportional to the number of atoms the object contains, and thus to its volume. But a black hole's entropy turned out to be proportional to the surface area of its event horizon — the boundary out of which not even light can escape. It was as if that surface somehow encoded information about what was inside, just as a two-dimensional hologram encodes a three-dimensional image.


In 1995 then, Ted Jacobson, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, combined these two findings, and postulated that every point in space lies on a tiny 'black-hole horizon' that also obeys the entropy–area relationship. From that, he found, the mathematics yielded Einstein's equations of general relativity — but using only thermodynamic concepts, not the idea of bending space-time. Ted's result suggested that gravity is statistical, a macroscopic approximation to the unseen constituents of space and time.


In 2010, this idea was taken a step further by Erik Verlinde, a string theorist at the University of Amsterdam, who showed that the statistical thermodynamics of the space-time constituents — whatever they turned out to be — could automatically generate Newton's law of gravitational attraction. In separate work, Thanu Padmanabhan, a cosmologist at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India, showed that Einstein's equations can be rewritten in a form that makes them identical to the laws of thermodynamics — as can many alternative theories of gravity. Padmanabhan is currently extending the thermodynamic approach in an effort to explain the origin and magnitude of dark energy: a mysterious cosmic force that is accelerating the Universe's expansion.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Alain Coetmeur's comment, August 31, 2013 5:56 AM
Yes, there is more and more hint that physics is ruled by information theory. 2d TD law is information law. Note that 1st TD law, is implied by 2nd TD law (give me a machine violating TD2, I build a TD1 violating machine). TD2 is heisenberg inequality. Quantum physics is based on the fact that the only reality is what you measure, ie information. Bose-einsteain inequality cliam that if something is same it is counted as one. Relativity claim that information flows below lightspeed, and that any observer is equivalent to another... finally you have informations... where does the lightspeed limit came ? is it an axiom or a consequence of symmetries... funny.
RUBEN RODRIGUEZ AMADOR's curator insight, October 17, 2013 9:58 AM

¿Qué Teoría del Espacio-Tiempo es convalida por la Física actual?

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The Exclusion Zone: Inside the Most Radioactive Place in the World

The Exclusion Zone: Inside the Most Radioactive Place in the World | Scientific anomalies |

In the wee hours of an April morning some 27 years ago, the nearly 50,000 residents of the Soviet city of Pripyat slept soundly as the worst nuclear disaster in history unfurled just down the street. Less than two miles away, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant erupted, sending a plume of radioactive material spiraling into the atmosphere. The resulting reactor fire burned for 10 days, spewing 20 Hiroshima bombs-worth of radioactive material across the environment and into animals, crops, and water sources, contaminating them, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


In the subsequent years the IAEA estimates that 336,000 people would be evacuated or relocated from the most irradiated areas surrounding the plant, 116,000 of which were evacuated by the end of the summer of 1986. But the residents of Pripyat had just 36 hours -- 36 hours to abandon everything they knew, leaving the city's streets to rot and decay under the weight of the elements. 


Now, long after the radioactive dust had settled, fine art photographer Philip Grossman returned to the area to document a different side of the incident, the cleanup. His work, "500,000 Voices," highlights the more than half a million workers, known as liquidators, who flooded the disaster site after the explosion, risking their lives to minimize the environmental hazards of mass nuclear contamination. 


"Everything in the city is contaminated," said Grossman. "They moved as fast as they could to clean up, packing all the material that was radioactive into garbage bags and trucks and burying it."


Grossman, who also works as a senior director of content acquisition for The Weather Channel, has visited the area three times, drawing inspiration for his work from the unique setting of his childhood. "I grew up near Three Mile Island, so I've always had a fascination with what happened there, as well as what happened in Chernobyl," said Grossman. "I wanted to go to Chernobyl and do something that few people can, or want to do."


Grossman's work exhibits an exclusive flair; bribes and insider connections have helped Grossman make the most of his 24 days in the zone. On his first trip, Grossman gained access to the control room of reactor number four. On subsequent trips Grossman reached the top of nearly every structure in Pripyat, including the iconic Ferris wheel in the heart of the city, and the Fujiyama building, the tallest structure in the abandoned city. In all, Grossman's work covers nearly every square inch of the exclusion zone, painting an eerie picture of the environmental fallout of a nuclear catastrophe

Maybe no site encapsulates the environmental impact of the Chernobyl meltdown more than the Red Forest. In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, the four-square-kilometer-stretch of pine trees just outside the walls of the power plant absorbed 80 to 100 Grays of gamma radiation, according to the IAEA, enough to kill all of the trees and leave the rotting stumps a reddish-brown hue. In response, the hoards of liquidators leveled most of the forest, burying irradiated trees under layers of sediment in massive trenches. The confines of the Red Forest were then re-imagined as a massive graveyard for contaminated materials -- helicopters, trucks, bodies, soil, anything exposed to radiation -- were all dumped en masse. Even though the Red Forest has since regrown, the area remains one of the most radioactive environments in the world; levels of radiation in the forest can reach 1 roentgen, 50,000 times greater than average background radiation levels, according to the IAEA.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Gene therapy for metachromatic leukodystrophy corrects errors in DNA and 'cures children', clinical trial shows

Gene therapy for metachromatic leukodystrophy corrects errors in DNA and 'cures children', clinical trial shows | Scientific anomalies |

A disease which robs children of the ability to walk and talk has been cured by pioneering gene therapy to correct errors in their DNA, say doctors. The study, in the journal Science, showed the three patients were now going to school. A second study published at the same time has shown a similar therapy reversing a severe genetic disease affecting the immune system.


Gene therapy researchers said it was a "really exciting" development.

Both diseases are caused by errors in the patient's genetic code - the manual for building and running their bodies.


Babies born with metachromatic leukodystrophy appear healthy, but their development starts to reverse between the ages of one and two as part of their brain is destroyed. Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome leads to a defective immune system. It makes patients more susceptible to infections, cancers and the immune system can also attack other parts of the body.


The technique, developed by a team of researchers at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, used a genetically modified virus to correct the damaging mutations in a patient's genes.


Bone marrow stem cells are taken from the patient then the virus is used to 'infect' the cells with tiny snippets of DNA which contain the correct instructions. These are then put back into the patient.


Three children were picked for treatment from families with a history of metachromatic leukodystrophy, but before their brain function started to decline.


Prof Luigi Naldini, who leads the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, said: "Three years after the start of the clinical trial the results obtained from the first six patients are very encouraging.


"The therapy is not only safe, but also effective and able to change the clinical history of these severe diseases.


"After 15 years of effort and our successes in the laboratory, but frustration as well, it's really exciting to be able to give a concrete solution to the first patients."

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Four New Species of Deep-Sea Anglerfish Found in New Zealand Waters

Four New Species of Deep-Sea Anglerfish Found in New Zealand Waters | Scientific anomalies |
Marine biologists from Taiwan and New Zealand have identified four new species of deep-sea fish in the anglerfish genus Chaunax.


The Chaunacidae is a group of medium-sized fishes inhabiting the continental slope at depths of up to 1.6 miles (2.5 km).


The newly discovered species, named Chaunax flavomaculatus, C. mulleus, C. reticulatus and C. russatus, have been described in a paper published in the journal Zootaxa.


Chaunax flavomaculatus is about 4 – 5 inches (10 – 12 cm) in length and lives at depths of 1,150-1,312 feet (350 – 400 m).


The specific name of Chaunax flavomaculatus derives from the Latin wordsflavo (yellow) and maculates (spot), in reference to the fresh coloration of the dorsal body. The proposed common name of the species is Yellowspot frogmouth.


“Chaunax flavomaculatus is most similar to C. abei and C. endeavouri, with which it shares a mix of numerous bifurcated and simple dermal spinules.Chaunax flavomaculatus is unique in having many large yellow spots on the pinkish background of the dorsal surface when fresh, and a creamy white body when preserved,” the biologists wrote in the Zootaxa paper.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Genetically modified purple tomato 'tastier than normal varieties'

Genetically modified purple tomato 'tastier than normal varieties' | Scientific anomalies |

A genetically modified purple tomato that is tastier than normal varieties and can last for more than a month before going off has been invented by scientists. The GM tomato, which gains its unusual color from a natural pigment known as anthocyanin, could be picked and shipped later due to its longer shelf life, allowing more time for flavour to develop on the vine.


Tests showed the shelf life of the tomatoes more than doubled from an average of 21 to 48 days after genetic modification, and they were less likely to go mouldy after harvest.


The strain has also been found in earlier studies to fight cancer in mice due to its high levels of antioxidants, and scientists say its qualities could be replicated in other soft fruits like strawberries and raspberries.


The tomatoes were modified by scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norfolk to contain two genes from the snapdragon which “switch on” a set of dormant genes in the tomato, causing them to produce more anthocyanin.


The pigment occurs naturally in various plants and flowers, and is responsible for many of the blues, reds and purples seen in nature, but also ramps up levels of antioxidants.

The goal of the project was to produce fruit with higher antioxidant levels which could benefit health, and earlier studies have shown that they helped extend the lives of cancer-prone mice by 30 per cent.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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RNA Interference: Nanocoatings on bandages could deliver RNAs to shut off disease-related genes

RNA Interference: Nanocoatings on bandages could deliver RNAs to shut off disease-related genes | Scientific anomalies |

Medical researchers think specially tailored RNA sequences could turn off genes in patients’ cells to encourage wound healing or to kill tumor cells. Now researchers have developed a nanocoating for bandages that could deliver these fragile gene-silencing RNAs right where they’re needed (ACS Nano 2013, DOI:10.1021/nn401011n). The team hopes to produce a bandage that shuts down genes standing in the way of healing in chronic wounds.


Small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, derail expression of specific genes in cells by binding to other RNA molecules that contain the code for those genes. Biologists have developed siRNAs that target disease-related genes. But for these siRNAs to reach the clinic, researchers must find a way to deliver the molecules safely to the right cells. Unfortunately, free oligonucleotides like siRNAs don’t fare well inside the body or cells as enzymes and acids quickly chop them up, says Paula T. Hammond, a chemical engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Other groups have tackled this delivery challenge by attaching siRNAs to chemical carriers that protect the oligonucleotides as they travel through the bloodstream. The pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis asked Hammond to design a vehicle that would work at the site of a wound or tumor, releasing the siRNAs over a long period of time. The company hoped that putting the biomolecules right where they’re needed, without them having to survive a trip through the bloodstream, would increase the efficacy of the treatment.


Hammond and her colleagues produced an siRNA-containing nanocoating that could be applied to a wide range of medical materials, such as bandages or biodegradable polymers doctors could implant during surgery to prevent an excised tumor from coming back. As the coating slowly dissolves, it releases siRNA molecules tethered to protective nanoparticles.


The thin films consist of two different materials: a peptide called protamine sulfate and calcium phosphate nanoparticles decorated with the therapeutic siRNAs. Other researchers have shown that similar nanoparticles help the nucleotides evade destruction once they’re taken up by cells (J. Controlled Release 2010, DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2009.11.008).


The team alternately dips whatever they want to coat in water solutions of the two materials. The RNA and nanoparticles are negatively charged, and the peptides are positively charged. The two substances cling together due to electrostatic force, producing a film when the water dries.


To test their delivery method, the researchers coated woven nylon bandages with 80-nm-thick films and applied the bandages to layers of human and animal cells in culture. In one experiment, a bandage loaded with 19 µg of siRNA per square centimeter released two-thirds of its load over 10 days. Other bandages made using siRNAs targeting the gene for fluorescent green protein almost completely shut down the protein’s production in cells expressing the gene. Hammond says the group is now testing bandages that knock down MMP9, a collagen-destroying protein associated with slow healing in chronic wounds.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Alligator Stem Cells Offer Hope for Tooth Regeneration in Humans

Alligator Stem Cells Offer Hope for Tooth Regeneration in Humans | Scientific anomalies |
Scientists discovered unique cellular and molecular mechanisms behind tooth renewal in American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis).


Humans naturally only have two sets of teeth – baby teeth and adult teeth. Ultimately, we want to identify stem cells that can be used as a resource to stimulate tooth renewal in adult humans who have lost teeth. But, to do that, we must first understand how they renew in other animals and why they stop in people,” Prof Chuong said.


Whereas most vertebrates can replace teeth throughout their lives, human teeth are naturally replaced only once, despite the lingering presence of a band of epithelial tissue called the dental lamina, which is crucial to tooth development.


Because alligators have well-organized teeth with similar form and structure as mammalian teeth and are capable of lifelong tooth renewal, the team reasoned that they might serve as models for mammalian tooth replacement.


“Alligator teeth are implanted in sockets of the dental bone, like human teeth. They have 80 teeth, each of which can be replaced up to 50 times over their lifetime, making them the ideal model for comparison to human teeth,” explained study lead author Prof Ping Wu, also from the University of Southern California.


The team found that each alligator tooth is a complex unit of three components – a functional tooth, a replacement tooth, and the dental lamina – in different developmental stages. The tooth units are structured to enable a smooth transition from dislodgement of the functional, mature tooth to replacement with the new tooth. Identifying three developmental phases for each tooth unit, the researchers conclude that the alligator dental laminae contain what appear to be stem cells from which new replacement teeth develop.


“Stem cells divide more slowly than other cells,” said co-author Prof Randall Widelitz of the University of Southern California.


“The cells in the alligator’s dental lamina behaved like we would expect stem cells to behave. In the future, we hope to isolate those cells from the dental lamina to see whether we can use them to regenerate teeth in the lab.”


The team also intends to learn what molecular networks are involved in repetitive renewal and hope to apply the principles to regenerative medicine in the future.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Once Upon a Time, the Universe Was Really Weird : From 2 dimensions to 5

Once Upon a Time, the Universe Was Really Weird : From 2 dimensions to 5 | Scientific anomalies |
Just after the Big Bang, the Universe's dimensions may have been completely different to the four-dimensional space-time we know and love today.


Shortly after the Big Bang, the Universe possessed only one dimension of space and one dimension of time. It was basically a straight line. As the Universe began to cool, and expanded, this one dimension of space became “wrapped up” in such a way to create two dimensions of space and one of time — a plane, like a sheet of flat paper.


The transition from one to two dimensions of space was calculated by the researchers to occur when the Universe “cooled” to an energy level of 100 TeV (tera-electron volts, a measurement of energy commonly used in particle physics). A period of time after that, the Universe continued to expand and cool until it reached an energy of 1 TeV. At this point, the Universe got promoted to a higher dimension; three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, i.e., the Universe we live in today.


Mureika and Stojkovic think the Universe will eventually be promoted again, to a five-dimensional state, at some point in the future.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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How Not to Be Ignorant About the World

How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know. Play along with his audience quiz — then, from Hans’ son Ola, learn 4 ways to quickly get less ignorant.

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, September 17, 5:01 PM

Our preconceived notions of places, as well as some of the dominant narratives about regions, can cloud our understanding about the world today.  This video is a good introduction to the Ignorance Project which shows how personal bias, outdated world views and news bias collectively make combating global ignorance difficult.   However, the end of the video shows some good rules of thumb to have a more fact-based world view.  

Tagsstatistics, placeregions, media, models, gapminderdevelopment, perspective.

Adilson Camacho's curator insight, September 18, 11:32 PM

adicionar sua visão ...

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Why Earthquakes Are Devastating Nepal

Why Earthquakes Are Devastating Nepal | Scientific anomalies |
The May 12 7.3 magnitude aftershock was one of many that followed the April 25 earthquake that shook Nepal. Why is this part of the world such a hotbed of tectonic activity?

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, May 13, 8:11 AM

This video is in a series by National Geographic designed to show the geography behind the current events--especially geared towards understanding the physical geography.  Check out more videos in the '101 videos' series here.   


Tags physicalNational Geographic, tectonics, disasters, video.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, May 21, 9:44 AM

Summer reading, tectonic plates

Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Geography Education!

The Armenian Genocide-100 years

The Armenian Genocide-100 years | Scientific anomalies |

“For most of the world, the Armenian Genocide is the slaughter you know next to nothing about. But every year on April 24, Genocide Remembrance Day, we Armenians remember the injustice of a crime that is rarely acknowledged and often flatly denied. It was April 24, 1915, when the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors and religious leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by the Ottoman authorities — and almost all of them executed. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire killed three of every four of its Armenian citizens. The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of the few survivors.”

Via Seth Dixon
Maricarmen Husson's curator insight, April 17, 7:37 PM


Cada año el 24 de abril, día de la conmemoración del Genocidio, nosotros los armenios recordamos la injusticia de un crimen que rara vez se reconoció y a menudo negó rotundamente.

Era el 24 de abril de 1915, cuando los intelectuales armenios, profesionales, editores y líderes religiosos de Constantinopla fueron detenidos por las autoridades otomanas - y casi todos ellos ejecutados. Durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, el Imperio Otomano mató a tres de cada cuatro de sus ciudadanos armenios. La mayoría de los armenios vivos hoy son descendientes de los pocos sobrevivientes ".

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, May 1, 4:17 PM

I have to be honest, I never knew we had a Genocide Remembrance Day.  As I get older, there seems to be a day for everything.  This is a horrific act.  Unfortunately, as we've seen historically many countries have tried this.  There is never a good outcome.  It's atrocious that we could ever standby and not do something.  

Eden Eaves's curator insight, May 24, 6:24 PM

Unit 3

For most of the world, the Armenian Genocide is the slaughter we know almost nothing about. But every year on April 24,Genocide Remembrance Day, Armenians all over the world remember the injustice of a crime that is rarely acknowledged and often flatly denied. It was April 24, 1915, when the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors and religious leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by the Ottoman authorities — and almost all of them executed. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire killed three of every four of its Armenian citizens. The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of the few survivors

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Scientist uncovers Mars' climate history in unique meteorite known as Black Beauty

Scientist uncovers Mars' climate history in unique meteorite known as Black Beauty | Scientific anomalies |

Research underway at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory may one day answer those questions — and perhaps even help pave the way for future colonization of the Red Planet. By analyzing the chemical clues locked inside an ancient Martian meteorite known as Black Beauty, Florida State University Professor Munir Humayun and an international research team are revealing the story of Mars’ ancient, and sometimes startling, climate history.

The team’s most recent finding of a dramatic climate change appeared in Nature Geoscience, in the paper “Record of the ancient Martian hydrosphere and atmosphere preserved in zircon from a Martian meteorite.”

The scientists found evidence for the climate shift in minerals called zircons embedded inside the dark, glossy meteorite. Zircons, which are also abundant in the Earth’s crust, form when lava cools. Among their intriguing properties, Humayun says, is that “they stick around forever.”

“When you find a zircon, it’s like finding a watch,” Humayun said. “A zircon begins keeping track of time from the moment it’s born.”

Last year, Humayun’s team correctly determined that the zircons in its Black Beauty sample were an astonishing 4.4 billion years old. That means, Humayun says, it formed during the Red Planet’s infancy and during a time when the planet might have been able to sustain life.

“First we learned that, about 4.5 billion years ago, water was more abundant on Mars, and now we’ve learned that something dramatically changed that,” said Humayun, a professor of geochemistry. “Now we can conclude that the conditions that we see today on Mars, this dry Martian desert, must have persisted for at least the past 1.7 billion years. We know now that Mars has been dry for a very long time.”

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Digital mapping uncovers ‘super henge’ that dwarfed Stonehenge

Digital mapping uncovers ‘super henge’ that dwarfed Stonehenge | Scientific anomalies |

Every summer solstice, tens of thousands of people throng to Stonehenge, creating a festival-like atmosphere at the 4,400-year-old stone monument. For the 2015 solstice, they will have a bit more room to spread out. A just-completed four-year project to map the vicinity of Stonehenge reveals a sprawling complex that includes 17 newly discovered monuments and signs of 1.5 kilometre-round “super henge”.


The digital map — made from high-resolution radar and magnetic and laser scans that accumulated several terabytes of data — shatters the picture of Stonehenge as a desolate and exclusive site that was visited by few, says Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, who co-led the effort.


Take the cursus, a 3-kilometer-long, 100-meter-wide ditch north of Stonehenge that was thought to act as barrier. The team’s mapping uncovered gaps in the cursus leading to Stonehenge, as well as several large pits, one of which would have been perfectly aligned with the setting solstice Sun. New magnetic and radar surveys of the Durrington Walls (which had been excavated before) uncovered more than 60 now-buried holes in which stones would have sat, and a few stones still buried.


“They look as they may have been pushed over. That’s a big prehistoric monument which we never knew anything about,” says Gaffney, who calls the structure a ‘super henge.’ His team will discuss the work at the British Science Festival this week, and they plan to present it to the institutions that manage the site. “I’m sure it will guide future excavations,” Gaffney says.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Climate study predicts 1,700 US cities and towns are at flood risk within next 80+ years from rising sea levels

Climate study predicts 1,700 US cities and towns are at flood risk within next 80+ years from rising sea levels | Scientific anomalies |

More than 1,700 American cities and towns – including Boston, New York, and Miami – are at greater risk from rising sea levels than previously feared, a new study has found.


By 2100, the future of at least part of these 1,700 locations will be "locked in" by greenhouse gas emissions built up in the atmosphere, theanalysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found. For nearly 80 US cities, the watery future will come much sooner, within the next decade even. 


The survey does not specify a date by which these cities, or parts of them, would actually fall under water. Instead, it specifies a "locked-in" date, by which time a future under water would be certain – a point of no return.


Because of the inertia built into the climate system, even if all carbon emissions stopped immediately, it would take some time for the related global temperature rises to ease off. That means the fate of some cities is already sealed, the study says.


"Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level," said Benjamin Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, and author of the paper. Dramatic cuts in emissions – much greater than Barack Obama and other world leaders have so far agreed – could save nearly 1,000 of those towns, by averting the sea-level rise, the study found.


"Hundreds of American cities are already locked into watery futures and we are growing that group very rapidly," Strauss said. "We are locking in hundreds more as we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere."


A recent study, also published in PNAS by the climate scientist Anders Levermann found each 1C rise in atmospheric warming would lead eventually to 2.3m of sea-level rise. The latest study takes those figures, and factors in the current rate of carbon emissions, as well as the best estimate of global temperature sensitivity to pollution.


For the study, a location was deemed "under threat" if 25% of its current population lives below the locked-in future high-tide level. Some 1,700 places are at risk in this definition. Even if bar is set higher, at 50% of the current population, 1,400 places would be under threat by 2100.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
CineversityTV's curator insight, July 31, 2013 2:51 PM

Make it 20 years and I would believe the article

Carter Roose's curator insight, October 2, 2013 9:12 AM

That is no good. If we do have all of those cities start to flood that would be bad. To me if they predict that they should start to see if they can prevent it. To me instead of just announcing it actually do work.

Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Amazing Science!

Physicists Debate Whether the World Is Made of Particles or Fields or Something Else Entirely

Physicists Debate Whether the World Is Made of Particles or Fields or Something Else Entirely | Scientific anomalies |

It stands to reason that particle physics is about particles, and most people have a mental image of little billiard balls caroming around space. Yet the concept of “particle” falls apart on closer inspection. Many physicists think that particles are not things at all but excitations in a quantum field, the modern successor of classical fields such as the magnetic field. But fields, too, are paradoxical. If neither particles nor fields are fundamental, then what is? Some researchers think that the world, at root, does not consist of material things but of relations or of properties, such as mass, charge and spin.


Physicists routinely describe the universe as being made of tiny subatomic particles that push and pull on one another by means of force fields. They call their subject “particle physics” and their instruments “particle accelerators.” They hew to a Lego-like model of the world. But this view sweeps a little-known fact under the rug: the particle interpretation of quantum physics, as well as the field interpretation, stretches our conventional notions of “particle” and “field” to such an extent that ever more people think the world might be made of something else entirely.


The problem is not that physicists lack a valid theory of the subatomic realm. They do have one: it is called quantum field theory. Theorists developed it between the late 1920s and early 1950s by merging the earlier theory of quantum mechanics with Einstein's special theory of relativity. Quantum field theory provides the conceptual underpinnings of the Standard Model of particle physics, which describes the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions in one common framework. In terms of empirical precision, it is the most successful theory in the history of science. Physicists use it every day to calculate the aftermath of particle collisions, the synthesis of matter in the big bang, the extreme conditions inside atomic nuclei, and much besides.


So it may come as a surprise that physicists are not even sure what the theory says—what its “ontology,” or basic physical picture, is. This confusion is separate from the much discussed mysteries of quantum mechanics, such as whether a cat in a sealed box can be both alive and dead at the same time.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Interstellar gas allows impossible chemical reactions to occur based on quantum tunneling

Interstellar gas allows impossible chemical reactions to occur based on quantum tunneling | Scientific anomalies |

In recent years, astronomers have detected some simple organic chemicals in the disks of material surrounding some stars. In our own Solar System, these seem to have undergone reactions that converted them into more complex molecules—some of them crucial for life—that have been found on meteorites. So, understanding the reactions that can take place in space can help provide an indication of the sorts of chemistry available to start life both here and around other stars.


Based on a publication in Nature Chemistry, it seems that the chemistry that can take place in the cold clouds of gas of space is much more complex than we had predicted. Reactions that would be impossible under normal circumstances—simply because there's not enough energy to push them forward—can take place in cold gasses due to quantum mechanical effects. That's because one of the reactants (a hydrogen nucleus) can undergo quantum tunneling between two reactants.


The key to understanding the work is the idea of activation energy. Many reactions that are energetically favorable (think burning wood) simply don't happen spontaneously. That's because the intermediate steps of the reaction are higher energy states. You need some additional energy (like a lit match) to push things over the activation energy barrier and get things to run downhill to the product state.


This, as you might imagine, is a problem in a cold gas cloud. With very little energy around, there's nothing available to hop a reaction over an activation energy barrier. On energetic considerations alone, there are some reactions that are simply impossible in that environment. And yet the authors of the new paper actually found that the reaction rate went up as the temperature went down.


The reaction the authors were looking at involved methanol, which has been found in gas clouds, and a hydroxyl radical. The latter is a water molecule with one of the hydrogens stripped away, leaving an unpaired electron. When these two molecules react, the favored outcome is to strip a hydrogen off the methanol, forming water and leaving a methoxy radical behind. Both hydroxyl and methoxy radicals have been detected in space.

Under normal circumstances, the intermediates of the reaction are energetic molecules with two oxygens bound to methanol's lone carbon. They require a fair bit of energy to create, which means there's a large activation energy to the reaction.


Once the temperature drops sufficiently, however, things start to change. At temperatures below 70K, rather than forming a covalently bonded intermediate, the two molecules can form a hydrogen bond. And at these temperatures, that bond will be relatively stable, keeping the two molecules in close proximity for extended periods of time. The proximity allows for quantum tunneling, in which small objects pass through a large energy barrier without occupying the intermediate, high energy states. In this case, one of the protons from the methanol simply tunnels over to the hydroxyl radical to form water, leaving a methoxy radical behind.

Methanol has four hydrogens, but the regular chemical reaction favors the transfer of specific ones when forming the water molecule. The authors found that the preference went away at low temperatures, confirming that something other than standard chemistry was going on here.


The fact that quantum tunneling allows reactions that would never take place in their own right is pretty impressive. But the results are also important because they give us a clearer picture of what's likely to be going on in the neighborhood of distant stars. Because of their distance, it's hard to detect anything other than raw materials around them. To infer the actual chemistry of the gas clouds, we have to look at the raw materials and the conditions, then figure out what reactions are likely to take place. By confirming that otherwise-impossible reactions can take place in these gas clouds, the authors have greatly expanded the range of chemistry we can expect to be taking place. And that can tell us something about the chemicals that are likely to be present in any planets formed under similar conditions.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Land Unseen: What's Beneath Antarctica's Ice?

Land Unseen: What's Beneath Antarctica's Ice? | Scientific anomalies |

"Many of us tend to think of Antarctica as a sheet of solid snow and ice. But, in contrast with its peer to the north, the southern pole's ice sheet lies atop a rocky continent. What are its features, its mountains and valleys, plains and coastlines?

A new dataset from the British Antarctic Survey provides the most detailed map ever of the bedrock below, information scientists hope will enable them to better model the affects of climate change on the ice, whose melting will have an impact on climate the world over."

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, June 14, 2013 2:12 PM

This video sheds some light on explorations to uncover truths about one of the most remote places on Earth.

Tags: Antarctica, water, physical, remote sensing, geospatial.

Johani Karonen's curator insight, June 17, 2013 4:46 AM

Talking about challanges - Amundsen and Scott sure had a tough one!

Jason, Charlie's curator insight, October 3, 2013 1:33 PM

This is the Intellctual part of Antarctica. This video talks about what is underneathAntarctica. Its' ice is flowing out towardsstone sea and could contribute to sea rise. If Antarctica didn't have anymoreonce our ocean would have a major rise but Antarctica would be a new place. 

Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Amazing Science!

Genetics of white tigers pinpointed - due to a single gene, SLC45A2

Genetics of white tigers pinpointed - due to a single gene, SLC45A2 | Scientific anomalies |

Chinese scientists trace the rare white coloration in Bengal tigers to a single change in a gene that affects a host of animals, including humans.


White tigers are a rare variant of the customary orange Bengal sub-species. Today, they are found exclusively in captive programmes where the limited numbers are interbred to maintain the distinctive fur color.


Shu-Jin Luo of Peking University and colleagues investigated the genetics of a family of tigers living in Chimelong Safari Park in Panyu, Guangzhou Province. This ambush of tigers included both white and orange individuals.


The study zeroed in on the pigment gene called SLC45A2, which has long been associated with the light colouration seen in some human populations, and in a range of other animals including horses, chickens, and fish.


The team identified a small alteration in the white-tiger version of SLC45A2 that appears to inhibit the production of red and yellow pigments. This change has no effect on the generation of black pigment - explaining why the whites still have their characteristic dark stripes.


A number of the white tigers found in zoos have health issues, such as eyesight problems and some deformities.


However, Luo and colleagues say these deficiencies are a consequence of inbreeding by humans and that the white coats are in no way indicative of a more general weakness in the Bengal variant.


Establishing this fact means that re-introducing them to the wild under a carefully managed conservation programme might be worth considering.

"The last known free-ranging white tiger was shot in 1958, before which sporadic sightings were made in India," the researchers write.


"Reasons for the extinction of wild white tigers were likely the same as those accounting for the dramatic decline in wild tigers in general: uncontrolled trophy hunting, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation.


"However, the fact that many white tigers captured or shot in the wild were mature adults suggests that a white tiger in the wild is able to survive without its fitness being substantially compromised."

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Kate Richmond's curator insight, June 10, 2013 10:34 AM

This article could be an excellent content-reading activity for students while also bringing up issues of ethics in genetics and single-gene vs. polygenic traits.

Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Amazing Science!

Velociraptor spider discovered in Oregon cave is so distinct it is placed its own family

Velociraptor spider discovered in Oregon cave is so distinct it is placed its own family | Scientific anomalies |

Scouring the caves of Southwest Oregon, scientists have made the incredible discovery of a fearsome apex predator with massive, sickle claws. No, it's not the Velociraptor fromJurassic Park: it's a large spider that is so unique scientists were forced to create a new taxonomic family for it. This is the first new spider family to be discovered in North America in over 130 years.

"This is something completely new," lead author of a paper on the species, Charles Griswold with the California Academy of Sciences, told SFGate. "It's a historic event."

The discoverers, who published their description paper in the open-access journalZoo Keyshave named thenew speciesTrogloraptor, which translates loosely to "cave robber," and they have dubbed a new spider family—Trogloraptoridae—to accommodate what they believe is a primitive spider. The full species name is Trogloraptor marchingtoniafter one of its discoverers.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Goodbye smallpox vaccination, hello monkeypox

Goodbye smallpox vaccination, hello monkeypox | Scientific anomalies |

In 8 May 1980, the World Health Organisation declared that “the world and its peoples are free from smallpox.” Through decades of intense vaccination, this once fatal disease had been wiped out. It was a singular victory and having won it, countries around the world discontinued the vaccination programmes. After all, why protect against a disease that no longer exists, except in a few isolated stocks?


Unfortunately, this is not a rhetorical question. The smallpox vaccine did more than protect against smallpox. It also reduced the risk of contracting a related illness called monkeypox, which produces the same combination of scabby bumps and fever. It’s milder than smallpox but it’s still a serious affliction. In Africa, where monkeypox originates from, it kills anywhere from 1-10% of those who are infected. And more and more people are becoming infected.


Anne Rimoin from the University of California, Los Angeles compared data on the virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the last three decades. She found that, during those years, monkeypox has become 20 times more common in humans. In one particular area, 72 people out of every million were infected each year between 1981 and 1986. Between 2005 and 2007, that figure rose to 1442 per million. Rimoin thinks that we eased up the pressure on smallpox vaccination too soon. Between 1981 and 1985, only 404 cases turned up in all of Africa, and simulations predicted that the disease was unlikely to spread too far in a human population before dying out. This was no public health threat. In 1986, even the monitoring programme was stopped. In 2005 however, Rimoin’s group, together with the DRC Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization set up a new round of monkeypox surveillance and they spent two years collecting data. Their research showed that the disease is gaining ground.


Rimoin found that monkeypox was disproportionately affecting children and almost all of those who fell sick were born after 1980, when the smallpox vaccination programme was halted in the DRC. The vaccine wasn’t a perfect defence against monkeypox but it was still around 85% effective. Among people who were born during the vaccination era, those who were immunised were 5 times less likely to develop monkeypox than their protected peers. And this protection is clearly long-lasting; even 25 years on, they could still ward off the related virus.


These figures are probably underestimates too. The region’s inconsistent healthcare isn’t exactly conducive to accurate disease monitoring and Rimoin says that her team had word of many more cases, but couldn’t always check them out because of their remote location.


Monkeypox is spread by animals including squirrels and, fairly obviously, monkeys. As humans encroach upon the DRC’s tropical rainforests, the risk of being exposed to an infected carrier grows. Indeed, Rimoin found that the odds of contracting monkeypox were higher for people living near forested areas, and for men. As civil strife continues to affect the DRC, locals are being forced to rely more on hunting to get enough food and that brings men in close contact with furry viral reservoirs.


It’s an emerging threat, but Rimoin isn’t calling for smallpox vaccination to resume. Doing so would be logistically difficult in an area where even collecting data can be fraught. It might be better to take a more targeted approach, vaccinating only health workers who treat infected patients, and people who come into frequent contact with animal carriers. It may also be worth educating local people about the dangers of handling carrier species and the benefits of isolating people who show the very obvious symptoms, until they can be treated.


But most importantly, Rimoin wants active surveillance in regions where the virus circulates, especially since there are still so many unknowns about the virus. We need to better understand how it moves from human to human (and from animal to human), how often it’s fatal, or what the complications are.


It’s a good opportunity to take action now, at a time when the monkeypox is still confined to specific areas. Things might not stay that way. In 2003, there was a bizarre outbreak in the United States, as rodents from Ghana brought the disease to American prairie dogs, who handed it over to humans. All sorts of rodents the world over might become reservoirs for the disease and Rimoin writes, “If monkeypox were to become established in a wildlife reservoir outside Africa, the public health setback would be difficult to reverse.”

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald