20170302

World's most threatening superbugs ranked in new list

 

The World Health Organization has drawn up a list of the drug-resistant bacteria that pose the biggest threat to human health.

Top of the list are gram-negative bugs, such as E. coli, which can cause lethal bloodstream infections and pneumonia in frail hospital patients.

The list will be discussed ahead of this summer's G20 meeting in Germany.

The aim is to focus the minds of governments on finding new antibiotics to fight hard-to-treat infections.

Experts have repeatedly warned that we are on the cusp of a "post-antibiotic era", where some infections will be untreatable with existing drugs.

cusp【名】先端、とがった部分

Common infections could then spread and kill.

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny from the WHO said antibiotic resistance was reaching "alarming proportions" and yet the drug pipeline was "practically dry".

pipeline【名】薬剤の開発初期段階から販売開始までの開発(品)

"We are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time."

The WHO says there is a danger that pharmaceutical companies will develop only treatments that are easier and more profitable to make - the low-hanging fruit.

low-hanging fruit〈比喩〉〔大きな努力をしなくても〕簡単に達成できる目標[目的・仕事]

The focus should be on clinical need instead, says the WHO.

Tuberculosis was not included on the list because the search for new treatments for this infection is already being prioritised.

Experts drew up the list by looking at the current level of drug resistance, global death rates, prevalence of the infections in communities and the burden the diseases cause on health systems.

One of the infections at the top is a bacterium called Klebsiella that has recently developed resistance to a powerful class of antibiotics called carbapenems.

carbapenem【名】《生化学》カルバペネムβラクタム系抗生剤の一種

The US recently reported the fatal case of a woman who caught this infection which could not be treated with any of 26 different antibiotics available to her doctors.

The list:

CRITICAL

Acinetobacter baumannii (carbapenem-resistant) - can cause serious chest and blood infections

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (carbapenem-resistant) - can cause serious chest and blood infections

Enterobacteriaceae, including Klebsiella, E. coli, Serratia, and Proteus (carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing strains) - can cause serious chest, blood and urine infections

HIGH PRIORITY

Enterococcus faecium (vancomycin-resistant) - can cause serious wound and blood infections

Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant) - can cause serious chest, blood, urine and wound infections

Helicobacter pylori (clarithromycin-resistant) - infection linked to stomach ulcers

Campylobacter spp. (fluoroquinolone-resistant) - can cause diarrhoeal disease and bloodstream infections

Salmonellae (fluoroquinolone-resistant) - can cause diarrhoeal disease and blood poisoning

Neisseria gonorrhoeae (cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant) - a sexually transmitted infection that can cause infertility and, rarely, can spread to the blood and joints

MEDIUM PRIORITY

Streptococcus pneumoniae (penicillin-non-susceptible) - can cause serious chest infections and meningitis as well as blood poisoning

Haemophilus influenzae (ampicillin-resistant) - can cause serious chest infections and meningitis as well as blood poisoning and skin and joint infections

 

Shigella spp. (fluoroquinolone-resistant) - a diarrhoeal disease that can lead to serious complications, including kidney failure

20170218

Scientists appeal for more people to donate their brains

Scientists are appealing for more people to donate their brains for research after they die.

They say they are lacking the brains of people with disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In part, this shortage results from a lack of awareness that such conditions are due to changes in brain wiring.

brain wiring脳の神経経路

The researchers' aim is to develop new treatments for mental and neurological disorders.

The human brain is as beautiful as it is complex. Its wiring changes and grows as we do. The organ is a physical embodiment of our behaviour and who we are.

embodiment【名】具現化、具象化権化、化身 。思想や抽象的特質などが具体的な形をとって現れたもの

In recent years, researchers have made links between the shape of the brain and mental and neurological disorders.

More than 3,000 brains are storied at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital just outside Boston. It is one of the largest brain banks in the world.

make the link関連があると見る

storied【形】物語で名高い

Most of their specimens are from people with mental or neurological disorders.

Samples are requested by scientists to find new treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and a whole host of psychiatric disorders.

whole host of《a ~》たくさんの

 

But there is a problem. Scientists at McLean Hospital and at brain banks across the world do not have enough specimens for the research community.

According Dr Kerry Ressler, who is the chief scientific officer at McLean hospital, new treatments for many mental and neurological diseases are within the grasp of the research community. However, he says it is the lack of brain tissue that is holding back their development.

within the grasp of(人)が入手できる

hold back妨げる、阻害する

"We have the tools and the ability to do some great deep-level biology of the human brain now.

"What we are lacking are the tissues from those with the disorders we need to really understand."

One donor visiting the hospital, who wished to be known only as Caroline, told BBC News that she decided to donate her brain for medical research partly because her sister has schizophrenia.

She hopes that her donation will help researchers find a cure ? and she's urging others to do the same.

“My parents were fine but why did my sister get schizophrenia? We are not sure where it came from. How are we going to find out if we don’t do the research on the brain, which is where the problem is."

There is a shortage of brains from people with disorders that are incorrectly seen as psychological rather than neurological in origin. These include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Prof Sabina Berretta, the scientific director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Centre, said: "If people think that there are no changes in the brain of somebody that suffers from major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder then there is no reason for them to donate their brain for research because (they think that) there is nothing there to find.

 

"This conception is radically wrong from a biological point of view."

20170212

Bolivia declares emergency over locust plague

The Bolivian government has declared a state of emergency in a vast agricultural area affected by a plague of locusts.

locust【名】バッタ ローカスト

President Evo Morales has announced a contingency plan, which includes $700,000 in extra funds for fumigation.

contingency plan緊急時対応策equivalent to con- con- + ting-, variant stem of tangere to touch + -ent- -ent

The swarm first appeared over a week ago near the low-lying eastern city of Santa Cruz, where most of Bolivia's food and meat is produced.

It has spread quickly, destroying pasture and fields of corn and sorghum.

The authorities estimate more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural land have been devastated by the locusts.

The government says fumigation must begin straight away.

fumigation【名】薫蒸消毒 equivalent to fum (us) smoke + -igare (v. suffix based on -ig-, noun derivative of agere to drive, do

"We will create a 500-metre-wide ring around the area affected and fumigate inside, working alongside the local authorities," said Bolivia's Agriculture Secretary, Mauricio Ordonez.

 

Mr Morales is due to visit Santa Cruz province on Friday.

20160915

Tool-using crow: Rare bird joins clever animal elite

A bird so rare that it is now extinct in the wild has joined a clever animal elite - the Hawaiian crow naturally uses tools to reach food.

The bird now joins just one other corvid - the New Caledonian crow - in this exclusive evolutionary niche.

exclusive【形】排他的な

Dr Christian Rutz from St Andrews University described his realisation that the bird might be an undiscovered tool user as a "eureka moment".

He and his team published their findings in the journal Nature.

"I've been studying New Caledonian crows for over 10 years now," Dr Rutz told BBC News. "There are more than 40 species of crows and ravens around the world and many of them are poorly studied.

"So I wondered if there were hitherto undiscovered tool users among them."

Previously, Dr Rutz and his colleagues have reported that New Caledonian crows have particular physical features - very straight bills and forward-facing eyes. The researchers suggested these might be tool-using adaptations.

They then searched the crow family for species with similar features, and Dr Rutz said he quickly realised that the "Hawaiian crow was the perfect candidate for further investigation".

Though it will now be something of a scientific celebrity, the Hawaiian crow has recently been rescued from the very brink of extinction.

something of《be ~》多少[幾分か]~である、~の気がある

something of aちょっとした~something of a celebrityちょっとした名士

Dr Rutz worked with colleagues at San Diego Zoo Global, who had brought the last remaining wild birds into captivity to start a breeding programme to save the species - those birds provided the scientist with a unique testing ground.

"We effectively tested the entire species," Dr Rutz told BBC News.

"At the time, there were 109 crows in captivity - we tested all of them, presenting them with a foraging task."

The Hawaiian crow or 'alal (Corvus hawaiiensis) is extinct in the wild and all the birds that remain are being kept in captive breeding. The last few birds were brought into captivity in a desperate effort to save this species from extinction. There are now 130 birds in captivity, and the team at San Diego Zoo Global are preparing for them to be released into the wild later this year.

According to zoo president Douglas Myers, this study marks an important milestone for the recovery programme.

"The discovery that 'alal naturally use tools is of great significance," he said, "especially at this critical stage of our recovery efforts, as it provides completely unexpected insights into the species' ecological needs."

That task consisted of logs with holes and crevices that were baited with food that was just out of a bill's reach.

"They were able to pick up sticks from the aviary," said Dr Rutz, "and of all the birds we tested, 93% used [the sticks as] tools. This suggests this is a species-wide skill.

"They were incredibly dextrous in the way that they handled the sticks, shortened them when they were too long, and discarded them if they were not happy with them."

Latin dexter right-hand, skillful + -ous

Since New Caledonian and Hawaiian crows both evolved on remote islands, the researchers think "something special" is happening on these islands that, at least in birds, drives the evolution of this highly unusual behaviour.

Dr Rutz added that the discovery also opened up the possibility of comparing these tool-using birds with primates that have similar skills, to work out what drives the evolution of these skills on such very different branches of the evolutionary tree.

Well-known primatologist Dr Jane Goodall provided the first detailed report of tool use in wild chimpanzees and a St Andrews University statement quoted Dr Goodall as describing this finding as "especially wonderful".

"Each of these discoveries shows how much there is still to learn about animal behaviour, and it makes me rethink about the evolution of tool use in our own earliest ancestors," she commented.

"Let this discovery serve to emphasise the importance to conserving these and other animal species so that we can continue to learn ever more about the range of their behaviour before they vanish for ever in the sixth great wave of extinction. We owe it to future generations."

 

 

History of life on the Earth witnessed five mass extinctions of species as a result of natural calamities. Currently, biologists are talking more and more often about the sixth wave of extinction provoked in many respects by human beings.

20160909

Asteroid probe begins seven-year quest

The US space agency (Nasa) has launched a mission to retrieve a rock sample from a 500m-wide asteroid called Bennu.

Scientists hope the material will reveal details about the formation of the planets, and improve our knowledge of how potentially dangerous space objects move through the Solar System.

The probe, dubbed Osiris-Rex, blasted away from Florida on an Atlas rocket at 19:05 local time (00:05 BST).

It will be seven years before it returns to Earth with its bounty.

This will be delivered in a capsule that will be parachuted down to the Utah desert on 24 September 2023.

It is not the first such sample-return mission - the Japanese brought back a tiny amount of dust from asteroid Itokawa in 2010.

But the Americans hope to acquire considerably more material, weighing perhaps a few hundred grams.

Engineers have developed a collection device that will extend from Osiris-Rex on a robotic arm and "high five" the surface of Bennu.

 

high-five

originally U.S. basketball slang, 1980 as a noun, 1981 as a verb, though the greeting itself seems to be older (e.g. Dick Shawn in "The Producers," 1968). In reference to the five fingers of the hand.

 

On contact, the mechanism will deliver a burst of gas to kick up loose fragments that should then settle in a holding chamber prior to being packed away in the return capsule.

Bennu is a so-called "B-type" asteroid. It is very dark.

Telescope observations suggest it is rich in carbon compounds.

"For primitive, carbon-rich asteroids like Bennu, materials are preserved from over 4.5 billion years ago. We're talking about the formation of our Solar System," explained Christina Richey, Nasa's Osiris-Rex deputy programme scientist.

"And these primitive materials could contain organic molecules that may be the precursors to life here on Earth or elsewhere within our Solar System."

 

Sample-Return missions are the future of space exploration, believes UK mission scientist Ian Franchi. The range of studies that can be conducted back on the Earth is far broader than can be pursued in-situ by a probe.

in situ

〈ラテン語〉元[本来]の位置[場所]で、そのままで、原位置で、自然の位置で、あるがままの状態で

"The instruments we use in the lab are the size of family cars or bigger if you think of synchrotron facilities," he told BBC News.

"They require amazing temperature control or very sophisticated sample preparation techniques.

"These are all things you just cannot do robotically on a spacecraft. And the other big issue is dating - we have to understand when something's happened and that chronology work has to be done in an Earth lab."

One of its tasks in this time will be to measure accurately something called the "Yarkovsky effect".

Yarkovsky effect

《宇宙》ヤルコフスキー効果

ヤルコフスキー効果(Yarkovsky effect)は天体からの熱放射の不均一が生じることにより、天体にモーメントが生じ、小天体の軌道が影響を受ける効果である。

This describes how an asteroid will alter its path through the Solar System when its surface is heated by the Sun.

"It has to radiate that energy back out into space, and when that happens it acts like a thruster and changes the trajectory of the asteroid," said Dante Lauretta, the mission's principal investigator from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

"If you want to be able to predict where an object like Bennu is going to be in the future, you have to account for this phenomenon."

 

The effect is tiny, but over the centuries could make the difference between a threatening asteroid either hitting or a missing the Earth.

 

20160908

Malaria stopped with single dose of new compound

Scientists say they have found a new compound that stops malaria in animal studies with a single, low dose.

Tests in mice showed the one-off treatment prevented infection for the full 30 days of the study.

The chemical compound fought early infection in the liver, as well as malaria parasites that were circulating in the blood.

The researchers hope their early work, published in the journal, Nature, could lead to new drugs for people.

Malaria is spread to humans by the bites of infected female mosquitoes and it is estimated that about half of the world's population is at risk of catching the disease.

In 2015, there were 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 malaria deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Aside from avoiding bites by using insecticides and bed nets, people can protect themselves against malaria by taking antimalarial drugs.

But existing treatments are less than perfect - people have to take repeated doses and the parasites that cause malaria are developing resistance to these drugs.

Along the Cambodia-Thailand border, one type of malaria parasite - P. falciparum - has become resistant to almost all available antimalarial medicines.

Dr Nobutaka Kato and colleagues, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, searched a library of more than 100,000 compounds for a new treatment.

They were hunting for something that would work in an entirely new way to existing drugs.

The compound they found targets an enzyme called phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase and appears to wipe out parasites before they can multiple in the liver and be released in bigger numbers into the bloodstream.

Lead researcher Prof Stuart Schreiber hopes the findings will lead to the discovery of better antimalarials in coming years.

He said: "We invite the scientific community to use this database as a jumping off point for their work developing antimalarial therapies."

jump-off point商売の足掛かり、出発点

The work was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Prof David Baker of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the findings were exciting.

"The advantage of a single dose antimalarial is that it potentially reduces costs and removes the issue of patients not completing the course of treatment.

 

"One of the safety tests they ran on the new compounds gave results suggesting that there may be a degree of toxicity in human cells, but hopefully the chemists will be able to modify the compounds to remove this issue."

20160907

Giant pandas rebound off endangered list

The giant panda is no longer an endangered species, following decades of work by conservationists to save it.

The official status of the much-loved animal has been changed from "endangered" to "vulnerable" because of a population rebound in China.

The change was announced as part of an update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

But the update also brought bad news. The eastern gorilla, the world's largest primate, is now endangered.

Efforts by China, which claims the giant panda as its national animal, have brought its numbers back from the brink. The latest estimates show a population of 1,864 adults.

There are no exact figures for the numbers of cubs, but estimates bring the total number of giant pandas to 2,060.

"Evidence from a series of range-wide national surveys indicate that the previous population decline has been arrested, and the population has started to increase," said the IUCN's updated report.

arrest【他動】阻む、止める

"The improved status confirms that the Chinese government's efforts to conserve this species are effective," it added.

But the rebound could be short-lived, the IUCN warned. Climate change is predicted to wipe out more than one-third of the panda's bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.

"And thus panda population is projected to decline, reversing the gains made during the last two decades," the report said.

projected to《be ~》~すると予測される

It added: "To protect this iconic species, it is critical that the effective forest protection measures are continued and that emerging threats are addressed."

John Robinson, a primatologist and chief conservation officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told the AFP news agency: "When push comes to shove, the Chinese have done a really good job with pandas.

when push comes to shove必要なら(ば)、いざとなったら、いよいよとなれば

"So few species are actually downlisted, it really is a reflection of the success of conservation," he told the AFP news agency."

A surge of illegal hunting has taken the eastern gorilla in the other direction, reducing its numbers to just 5,000 across the globe.

Four out of six of the Earth's great apes are now critically endangered - the eastern gorilla, western gorilla, Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan.

"Today is a sad day because the IUCN Red List shows we are wiping out some of our closest relatives," Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, told reporters.

The number of eastern gorillas has declined more than 70% in the past two decades.

 

The IUCN Red List includes 82,954 species, both plants and animals. Almost one third, 23,928, are listed as being threatened with extinction.

20130906

Pollution particles 'get into brain'

Tiny particles of pollution have been discovered inside samples of brain tissue, according to new research.

Suspected of toxicity, the particles of iron oxide could conceivably contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's - though evidence for this is lacking.

conceivably【副】考えられる限りでは、ことによると、もしかしたら

The finding - described as "dreadfully shocking" by the researchers - raises a host of new questions about the health risks of air pollution.

dreadfully【副】恐ろしく、ものすごく、非常に、極度に

Many studies have focused on the impact of dirty air on the lungs and heart.

Now this new research provides the first evidence that minute particles of what is called magnetite, which can be derived from pollution, can find their way into the brain.

Earlier this year the World Health Organisation warned that air pollution was leading to as many as three million premature deaths every year.

The estimate for the UK is that 50,000 people die every year with conditions linked to polluted air.

The research was led by scientists at Lancaster University and is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The team analysed samples of brain tissue from 37 people - 29 who had lived and died in Mexico City, a notorious pollution hotspot, and who were aged from 3 to 85.

The other 8 came from Manchester, were aged 62-92 and some had died with varying severities of neurodegenerative disease.

varying severityさまざまな重症度

The lead author of the research paper, Prof Barbara Maher, has previously identified magnetite particles in samples of air gathered beside a busy road in Lancaster and outside a power station.

She suspected that similar particles may be found in the brain samples, and that is what happened.

"It's dreadfully shocking. When you study the tissue you see the particles distributed between the cells and when you do a magnetic extraction there are millions of particles, millions in a single gram of brain tissue - that's a million opportunities to do damage."

Further study revealed that the particles have a distinctive shape which provides a crucial clue to their origin.

Magnetite can occur naturally in the brain in tiny quantities but the particles formed that way are distinctively jagged.

By contrast, the particles found in the study were not only far more numerous but also smooth and rounded - characteristics that can only be created in the high temperatures of a vehicle engine or braking systems.

Prof Maher said: "They are spherical shapes and they have little crystallites around their surfaces, and they occur with other metals like platinum which comes from catalytic converters.

"So for the first time we saw these pollution particles inside the human brain.

"It's a discovery finding. It's a whole new area to investigate to understand if these magnetite particles are causing or accelerating neurodegenerative disease."

For every one natural magnetite particle identified, the researchers found about 100 of the pollution-derived ones.

The results did not show a straightforward pattern. While the Manchester donors, especially those with neurodegenerative conditions, had elevated levels of magnetite, the same or higher levels were found in the Mexico City victims.

The highest level was found in a 32-year-old Mexican man who had been killed in a traffic accident.

Dubbed "nanospheres", the particles are less than 200 nanometres in diameter - by comparison, a human hair is at least 50,000 nanometres thick.

While large particles of pollution such as soot can be trapped inside the nose, smaller types can enter the lungs and even smaller ones can cross into the bloodstream.

But nanoscale particles of magnetite are believed to be small enough to pass from the nose into the olfactory bulb and then via the nervous system into the frontal cortex of the brain.

Prof David Allsop, a specialist in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, is a co-author of the study and also at Lancaster University.

He said that pollution particles "could be an important risk factor" for these conditions.

"There is no absolutely proven link at the moment but there are lots of suggestive observations - other people have found these pollution particles in the middle of the plaques that accumulate in the brain in Alzheimer's disease so they could well be a contributor to plaque formation.

"These particles are made out of iron and iron is very reactive so it's almost certainly going to do some damage to the brain. It's involved in producing very reactive molecules called reaction oxygen species which produce oxidative damage and that's very well defined.

"We already know oxidative damage contributes to brain damage in Alzheimer's patients so if you've got iron in the brain it's very likely to do some damage. It can't be benign."

Other experts in the field are more cautious about a possible link.

Dr Clare Walton, research manager at the Alzheimer's Society, said there was no strong evidence that magnetite causes Alzheimer's disease or makes it worse.

"This study offers convincing evidence that magnetite from air pollution can get into the brain, but it doesn't tell us what effect this has on brain health or conditions such as Alzheimer's disease," she said.

"The causes of dementia are complex and so far there hasn't been enough research to say whether living in cities and polluted areas raises the risk of dementia. Further work in this area is important, but until we have more information people should not be unduly worried."

unduly【副】過度に、行き過ぎて、極度に不当に、不正に、不条理に

 

She said that in the meantime more practical ways of lowering the chances of developing dementia include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and avoiding smoking.

20160903

Juno probe returns close-up Jupiter pictures

The US space agency (Nasa) has released spectacular new images of Jupiter acquired by its Juno probe.

The pictures show the swirling clouds of the gas giant at both its poles - views that no previous mission has managed to acquire in such detail.

Juno captured the data last weekend as it made its first close approach to the planet since going into orbit in July.

The flyby took the spacecraft just 4,200km above Jupiter's multi-coloured atmosphere.

The 6MB of data downlinked to Earth from the encounter is still being analysed, but principal investigator Scott Bolton said new things were already obvious.

"First glimpse of Jupiter's north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before. It's bluer in colour up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms," the Southwest Research Institute scientist explained in a Nasa statement.

"There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zones and belts that we are used to - this image is hardly recognisable as Jupiter.

latitude band緯度帯

"We're seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features."

Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK, is a member of the Juno mission's science team.

He told the BBC that his colleagues were bowled over when they first saw the pictures: "The team's reaction was amazement. 'Look at these images; they are coming from Jupiter; we're flying over the pole for the first time!' It's just jaw-dropping."

When the Juno probe arrived at Jupiter in July, its instruments and camera were switched off.

It had to perform a critical rocket manoeuvre to get into orbit - and engineers did not want the complication of taking pretty pictures at the same time. But after successfully turning around the planet, Juno booted up its other systems, and last Saturday's return pass was the first opportunity to get a good look at the gaseous world.

The probe's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) has acquired unique views of Jupiter's southern aurora.

Earth telescopes have tried but failed to get such images.

And Juno's Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment (Waves) has recorded the blizzard of particles moving through the planet's super-strong magnetic field.

Juno's quest is to investigate the secrets of the Solar System by explaining the origin and evolution of its biggest planet.

The spacecraft's remote sensing instruments will look down into the giant's many layers and measure their composition, temperature, motion and other properties.

We should finally discover whether Jupiter has a solid core or if its gas merely compresses to an ever denser state all the way to the centre.

all the way toはるばる~まで、~までずっと

We will also get new information on the famous Great Red Spot - the colossal storm that has raged on Jupiter for hundreds of years. Juno will tell us how deep its roots go.

And Dr Nichols said Jupiter was a wonderful laboratory to try to understand even more distant places.

"We can go to Jupiter and kick the tyres to see how it works, but that then gives us some insights on lots of other objects in the Universe.

kick the tires〔自動車の〕タイヤを蹴る〈俗〉簡単な点検[品質検査]をする

"We can use Jupiter as an analogue for things like brown dwarfs and exoplanets - basically, any fast-rotating body with a magnetic field can be modelled in some way like Jupiter."serve as an analog of~の類似物となる[として機能する]

The spacecraft is currently flying on an ellipse around Jupiter that takes 53 days to complete. Its next close approach is due on 19 October, when the probe will fire its main engine to tighten the circuit to just 14 days.

This configuration will then be held until February 2018 when the spacecraft will be commanded to make a destructive dive into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

 

By that stage, however, scientists hope to have built a formidable data-set to help answer their most pressing questions about this vast world.

 

20160902

Dog vaccine offers hope in China’s fight against rabies

Cattle in northern China have shown an increasing incidence of rabies

Scientists in China have found that a rabies vaccine usually given to dogs can also protect livestock.

Rabies in domestic cattle and camels, infected by wild dog and fox bites, has been on the rise in north-west China.

Because there is no oral vaccine for wild animals in China, it is impossible to prevent this type of spread.

A vaccine for large domestic animals is what is needed, the researchers say, but the canine vaccine could provide a stop-gap measure.

stopgap【形】一時しのぎの(策)、当座しのぎの(策)

Their findings are published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

China has the second highest number of reported rabies cases in the world after India. The majority of infections come from contact with China's estimated 100 million-plus dogs.

Despite an increase in the dog population, human infections have been declining as a result of domestic dog vaccinations and education programmes.

But rabies is spreading to areas beyond the traditional rabies hotspot in the south, where five provinces account for 60% of human infections.

Rabies is typically transferred to humans or livestock by dog bites

Despite the government's commitment to eradicate rabies in China by 2025, numerous cases of livestock infections have been reported in previously unaffected areas, like the Xinjiang Autonomous Regions.

This follows a concerted, government-led campaign to develop areas that were traditionally only sparsely populated. Domestic vaccination in these regions is low and dog ownership is high, with as many as 70% of rural households keeping dogs.

Infection of livestock by wild dogs and foxes is an urgent concern to researcher Rong-Liang Hu and his team from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Changchun.

"It is likely that rabies will rapidly spread among non-vaccinated animals and spill over into humans," they write in the paper.

Herds infected by rabies can lead to huge economic losses for local farmers and risk transmission to humans, through contact with animals or consumption of infected meat.

Dr Hu's team collected tissue samples from infected cattle and camels in two areas of northern China and confirmed the virus had most likely been transferred from wild dogs and foxes.

They also conducted an experiment on 300 cattle and 330 camels during an outbreak in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

camelsImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Dividing the animals into groups, they administered one, two or three doses of canine inactivated vaccine - the only type of vaccine currently available in China.

Comparing blood samples from before and after those vaccinations, the researchers found differences in the level of antibodies.

While one dose of the dog vaccine would fail to provide protection, animals receiving two doses were protected from infection for up to 12 months. Three doses were also effective but would be too expensive to administer on a large scale.

As long as China does not have an oral vaccine programme for wild animals - or a specific vaccine for livestock - this double-dose of the dog vaccine offers some hope to farmers.

China has a long history of rabies infection. Between 1950 and 2004, over 100,000 cases were reported. Improvements in vaccination programmes led to a decrease over time, with 2,000 cases in 2011.

"In light of the history of rabies epidemics, we should recognize the serious situation of animal rabies control," Dr Hu and his colleagues wrote.

Rabies outbreaks are frequently followed by culls. One of the most notorious culls occurred in the city of Hanzhong in 2009 when more than 30,000 dogs were killed, many of them clubbed to death, in response to 13 human deaths.

 

Oral vaccines have been used successfully elsewhere in the world but these are not presently licensed for use in China.

20160901

Alzheimer's drug study gives 'tantalising' results

tantalizing【形】tantalizing clueわずかな手掛り、かすかな糸口

tantalize【他動】~をじらして苦しめる、(見せびらかして)じらす

タンタロス 《Zeus の息子; 神々の秘密を漏らしたため,地獄の水にあごまでつけられ,のどが渇いて飲もうとすると水は退き,頭上に垂れている果物に手を伸ばすとそれが退いて苦しんだという》.

A drug that destroys the characteristic protein plaques that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's is showing "tantalising" promise, scientists say.

Experts are cautious because the drug, Aducanumab, is still in the early stages of development.

But a study in Nature has shown it is safe and hinted that it halts memory decline.

Larger studies are now under way to fully evaluate the drug's effects.

The build-up of amyloid in the brain has been a treatment target for many years.

This study, of 165 patients, was designed to test Aducanumab was safe to take.

After a year of treatment, it also showed the higher the dose the stronger the effect on amyloid plaques.

The researchers then carried out tests on memory and found "positive effects".

However, 40 people dropped out of the study, half because of side effects they experienced, such as headaches. These too were much more common with a higher dosage.

The next phase of research - phase 3 - involves two separate studies. These are recruiting 2,700 patients with very early stage Alzheimer's across North America, Europe and Asia in order to fully test the drug's effect on cognitive decline.

Dr Alfred Sandrock of the biotech company Biogen, which worked with the University of Zurich on the research, said: "Phase 3 really needs to be done and I hope it will confirm what we have seen in this study.

"One day I could envisage treating people who have no symptoms because if you have amyloid in the brain it's likely you'll develop Alzheimer's one day."

However, there have been many disappointments in Alzheimer's drug development, and it is over a decade since the last drug for people with the condition was licensed.

Other experts have welcomed this latest research - but with caution.

Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer's Research UK, said the results provided "tantalising evidence that a new class of drug to treat the disease may be on the horizon".

And Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, added: "What is most compelling is that more amyloid was cleared when people took higher doses of the drug.

compelling【形】人を動かさずにはおかない、人の心をつかんで離さない、人を引き付ける、感動的な pellere to push, drive propell

"No existing treatments for Alzheimer's directly interfere with the disease process and so a drug that actually slows the progress of the disease by clearing amyloid would be a significant step."

However, Dr Tara Spires-Jones, of the Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems at the University of Edinburgh, said: "I am cautiously optimistic about this treatment, but trying not to get too excited because many drugs make it through this early stage of testing then go on to fail in larger trials."

 

And John Hardy, professor of neuroscience at University College London, said: "These new data are tantalising but they are not yet definitive."

20160831

Tasmanian devil DNA shows signs of cancer fightback

A genetic study of Tasmanian devils has uncovered signs that the animals are rapidly evolving to defend themselves against an infectious face cancer.

One of just three known transmissible cancers, this tumour has wiped out 80% of wild devils in the past 20 years.

Researchers looked at samples from 294 animals, in three different areas, before and after the disease arrived.

Two small sections of the devil genome appear to be changing very fast - and contain possible cancer-fighting genes.

The team, made up of US, UK and Australian scientists, described their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

They say the results offer much-needed hope that the species, which is unique to Tasmania, could survive the disease.

much-needed【形】のどから手が出るほど欲しい、切望していた、非常に求められる

Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) was discovered in 1996 and kills nearly every devil it infects. Essentially a single tumour that jumps between hosts, it is transferred when the aggressive beasts bite each other's snouts.

Only two other infectious cancers are known to science. A similar tumour is shared between the genitals of dogs when they mate, and has traversed the globe since it originated 11,000 years ago; another was discovered in 2015 affecting clams on the US west coast.

traverse【他動】横切る、横断する

Speaking to journalists in a teleconference, co-author Dr Paul Hohenlohe said he and his colleagues were in a unique position to observe the Tasmanian devil population responding to the cancer threat - because their samples spanned separate locations and reached from 1999 through to 2014.

Using the latest DNA sequencing methods, they were able to look for changes right across the devil genome.

right across 全面的に

"We characterised about 800,000 locations across the genome of each individual Tasmanian devil," said Dr Hohenlohe, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Idaho.

characterize【他動】~の特性を示す[明らかにする]

"Our goal is to look for genetic variants that could convey some sort of resistance… so that it may be possible to manage captive populations to ensure that that genetic variation is maintained."

Sure enough, among that wealth of data, the team found that two particular stretches of DNA were under acute selection pressure: they were changing faster than the rest of the genome, and specific gene variations were obviously on the rise - in all three populations.

wealth of data《a ~》大量のデータ

Most importantly there were seven particular genes, within those favoured regions, that looked like good anti-cancer candidates. They were connected to the activity of the immune system, for example, or there was a matching gene in humans with a known link to cancer.

favored【形】好意をもたれている

"Particularly, there are several that seem to be involved in directing immune cells to dysfunctional cells or pathogens, and we think those are particularly promising," said Dr Brendan Epstein from Washington State University, the paper's first author.

His colleague Dr Andrew Storfer, also from Washington State, said this was cause for optimism. Despite the devils' steep decline, several populations - including those in the study - have survived beyond the point where scientists expected them to vanish.

These findings may explain why.

"First and foremost, this gives us hope for the survival of the Tasmanian devil, which is predicted to be extinct but isn't," Dr Storfer said. "We see that the devils apparently are evolving genes that may be associated with resistance to the disease."

Particularly exciting, he said, was the speed at which these adaptations appeared to be happening.

"We're talking about roughly six generations in some populations, which is a very short period of evolutionary time."

The team is now working to characterise the specific genes in more detail. There may be things to learn that could help tackle cancer in humans - or explain where these baffling contagious cancers came from.

baffling【形】不可解な、当惑[困惑]させる

"One of the big questions is, what do these cancers have in common? [Then] we can figure out how cancers evolved to be transmissible in the first place," Dr Storfer said.

The tumour spreading between bivalves in the Pacific can actually jump from one species to another, he added.

bivalve【名】二枚貝

"The fear is that we may see more cancers down the road that are transmissible between species."

down the road[先の方で]将来いつか、今後、そのうちに、やがて、後で(later)

Dr David Rollinson is a biologist at the Natural History Museum in London who specialises in the genetics of how hosts and parasites evolve together.

He said the new study was an impressive - and encouraging - example of natural selection in action.

"I find it quite exciting," Dr Rollinson told the BBC. "There's been great concern that the Tasmanian devils may be wiped out by this strange, transmissible cancer.

"And it now seems that there's just a little bit of hope - that the selection pressure is actually driving a response by the devils, so they're getting a genetic profile that might actually give them some protection."

 

短期間で遺伝子が目的に合わせて変化するって知らなかった。

20160830

Early human ancestor Lucy 'died falling out of a tree'

New evidence suggests that the famous fossilised human ancestor dubbed "Lucy" by scientists died falling from a great height - probably out of a tree.

CT scans have shown injuries to her bones similar to those suffered by modern humans in similar falls.

The 3.2 million-year-old hominin was found on a treed flood plain, making a branch her most likely final perch.

flood plain 氾濫原

It bolsters the view that her species - Australopithecus afarensis - spent at least some of its life in the trees.

Writing in the journal Nature, researchers from the US and Ethiopia describe a "vertical deceleration event" which they argue caused Lucy's death.

In particular they point to a crushed shoulder joint, of the sort seen when we humans reach out our arms to break a fall, as well as fractures of the ankle, leg bones, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, arm, jaw and skull.

"We weren't there - we didn't see it - but the subset of fractures that we've identified are fully consistent with what's reported in a voluminous orthopaedic surgical literature about fall victims who have come down from height," said lead author John Kappelman from the University of Texas at Austin.

subset【名】部分集合

literature【名】文献、論文

"It's tested every day in emergency rooms all around the planet."

Discovered in Ethiopia's Afar region in 1974, Lucy's 40%-complete skeleton is one of the world's best known fossils. She was around 1.1m (3ft 7in) tall and is thought to have been a young adult when she died.

Her species, Australopithecus afarensis, shows signs of having walked upright on the ground and had lost her ancestors' ape-like, grasping feet - but also had an upper body well-suited to climbing.

The bones of this well-studied skeleton are in fact laced with fractures, like most fossils. But with modern tools such as high-resolution CT scanners, researchers can start to unpick which ones were injuries and which ones happened during the intervening millennia.

unpick【他動】ほどく

intervening介在する

"These fractures have been known since she was discovered," Prof Kappelman told BBC News. "I've looked at this fossil for 30 years and I knew that these fractures were there."

It was during a brief break in Lucy's 2008 tour of US museums that he and his colleagues found time for the scans.

"We were able to get permission from the Ethiopian government… and after the exhibit closed down in Houston, we brought Lucy here to the UT campus - in secret, for security purposes. And we have a high-resolution CT scan here.

"We scanned everything. We worked 24/7, 10 days straight without a break."

Without those precious scans, Prof Kappelman said, Lucy's injuries would never have come to light.

"What it allows us to do is literally look inside mineralised rocks and bones. And Lucy - as much as we love her - she's a rock. She's fully mineralised."

By peering inside the bones in minute detail, the scanner showed that several of the fractures were "greenstick" breaks. The bone had bent and snapped like a twig: something that only happens to healthy, living bones.

greenstick fracture若木骨折

So the injuries happened while Lucy was alive - but they also show no signs of healing, so these misfortunes apparently befell the small creature at the very time of her death.

A fatal fall also fits with the fact that Lucy's tiny first rib is broken. This bone is small and heavily protected, Prof Kappelman explained; if it's fractured, you're having a bad day.

"When you look at rib fractures, the first rib is the most rarely fractured. It take a high amount of chest trauma."

But the shattered top of the fossilised humerus bone - Lucy's upper arm - is the most compelling piece of the puzzle.

humerus【名】上腕(骨)

compelling【形】説得力のある

"If our hypothesis stands up… it tells us that Lucy was conscious when she reached out her arms to break her fall," said Prof Kappelman.

The researchers even used their scans to 3D print Lucy's humerus and discuss it with orthopaedic surgeons. So far, they have all agreed.

"At this point I'm nine from nine," Prof Kappelman said of his blind tests on unsuspecting bone doctors, adding that he printed out the bones in an enlarged form so that they appeared human.

"Everybody agrees this is a fall from height."

In fact, 3D printing is now something that anyone with an interest in Lucy can do. The researchers, in partnership with the government of Ethiopia, have made the files available online.

"The Ethiopian ministry has agreed to release 3D files of Lucy's right shoulder and her left knee. So anyone with an interest in this can print Lucy out and evaluate these fractures, and our hypothesis, for themselves."

Nancy Lovell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta in Canada, commented that the fracture findings were surprising but convincing.

"It seems fantastical but there's nothing to contradict their interpretation," she told the BBC. "And their use of really good, computerised imaging helps.

"Taken individually, the pieces all look perfectly plausible."

A fracture in Lucy's humerus can be seen in these 3D printouts (the top one is a complete, reconstructed version)

Prof Lovell is uncertain about the precise height and speed of the fall, which the Texas-led team estimated at 12m (40ft) and 60km/h (35mph).

"People die from falls. People fall off ladders and die of head injuries - it doesn't have to have been a really tall tree," she said.

"[But] we certainly think the area where she was living was treed at the time."

Prof Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, said the idea of a tree fall was a good fit with our understanding of how Australopithecus afarensis lived.

"They could have been in trees some of the time for feeding, nesting, or protection," he said.

 

"If Lucy had young, for example, trees would certainly have been a safer option than the ground when predators were around."

20160829

Viruses 'more dangerous in the morning'

Viruses are more dangerous when they infect their victims in the morning, a University of Cambridge study suggests.

The findings, published in PNAS, showed viruses were 10 times more successful if the infection started in the morning.

And the animal studies found that a disrupted body clock - caused by shift-work or jet lag - was always vulnerable to infection.

The researchers say the findings could lead to new ways of stopping pandemics.

Viruses - unlike bacteria or parasites - are completely dependent on hijacking the machinery inside cells in order to replicate.

machinery【名】機構、構造

But those cells change dramatically as part of a 24-hour pattern known as the body clock.

In the study, mice were infected with either influenza, which causes flu, or herpes virus, which can cause a range of diseases including cold sores.

cold sore《医》ヘルペス

The mice infected in the morning had 10 times the viral levels of those infected in the evening.

The late viruses were failing after essentially trying to hijack a factory after all the workers had gone home.

Prof Akhilesh Reddy, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: "It's a big difference.

"The virus needs all the apparatus available at the right time, otherwise it might not ever get off the ground, but a tiny infection in the morning might perpetuate faster and take over the body."

get off the ground〔飛行機などが〕離陸する〈話〉〔物事が〕順調にスタートする

perpetuate【他動】~を長続きさせる、~を永続させる

from Latin perpeture to continue without interruption

He believes the findings could help control outbreaks of disease.

Prof Reddy said: "In a pandemic, staying in during the daytime could be quite important and save people's lives, it could have a big impact if trials bear it out."

bear out【句動】裏付ける、実証する、証明する

Further tests showed that disrupting the animal's body clock meant they were "locked in" to a state that allowed the viruses to thrive.

Dr Rachel Edgar, the first author, said: "This indicates that shift workers, who work some nights and rest some nights and so have a disrupted body clock, will be more susceptible to viral diseases.

"If so, then they could be prime candidates for receiving the annual flu vaccines."

The researchers used only two viruses in the study.

However, the pair were very distinct (one was a DNA virus the other an RNA virus), which leads the research team to suspect the morning risk may be a broad principle that applies across a wide number of viruses.

About 10% of genes, the instructions for running the human body, change activity throughout the day, and this is controlled by the internal clock.

The research focused on one clock gene called Bmal1, which has its peak activity in the afternoon in both mice and people.

Prof Reddy added: "It's the link with Bmal1 that's important, since when that's low (in the early morning), you're more susceptible to infection."

Curiously, Bmal1 becomes less active in people during the winter months - suggesting it may have a role in the greater risk of infections at that time of the year.

 

The body clock has been implicated in our susceptibility to infections before, flu jabs appear more effective in morning and jet lag affects the malaria parasite.

20160825

MPs call for ban on plastic microbeads

A worldwide ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics should be imposed as soon as possible, MPs have demanded.

The Environmental Audit Committee says the tiny balls of plastic used in shower gels and facial scrubs can even be found in Arctic sea-ice and on the ocean floor.

The MPs say synthetic fibres from worn car tyres and fleece jackets may also be harming wildlife.

The government says it will consider a ban on microbeads in cosmetics if the EU doesn’t legislate against them.

But the MPs want ministers to take a firmer position on this growing problem.

The committee chair, Mary Creagh, said: “Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain. A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.

estuary【名】河口 入り江

“Cosmetic companies’ voluntary approach to phasing out plastic microbeads simply won’t wash. We need a full legal ban.”

phase out【句動】段階的に[徐々に・次第に]廃止する

Why are microbeads controversial?

Microbeads are plastic particles smaller than 5mm. They are used in cosmetics, including toothpaste, to add body and provide abrasion. Manufacturers use them because the beads can be manufactured to uniform degrees of size and hardness.

abrasion【名】すり減り、摩滅、摩耗、擦り傷

Other microplastics result from the breakup of larger plastic objects in the oceans ? like bags, bottles and discarded fishing gear. It is estimated that between 15-51 trillion microplastic particles have accumulated in the ocean.

Microplastics from cosmetics are thought to constitute just 0.01% to 4.1% of plastics entering the marine environment.

But the committee says that although microbeads are a small part of a huge problem, a ban would show commitment to tackling the wider issue.

Microplastic pollution is potentially more environmentally damaging than larger plastic waste, because it is more likely to be eaten by wildlife. Microplastics also have a greater surface area to attract toxins.

Professor Tamara Galloway from Exeter University said: “We find pieces of plastic in every sample of seawater we study from round the world. Many marine animals ingest microbeads, mistaking them for food. They can then be lodged in the animals’ gut - preventing them from eating nutritious food.

“An average plate of oysters could contain up to 50 plastic particles. We don’t have any evidence yet for the harm this might cause but most people would probably prefer not to be eating microbeads with their food.”

The tiny synthetic fibres used to make fleece jackets are also contaminating fish, the MPs have warned. One estimate suggests around 1,900 individual fibres can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment - with perhaps 40% of them evading sewage treatment works and ending up in the ocean.

This is ironic as fleece jackets are made of discarded plastic bottles, and have been considered a solution to waste plastic.

The biggest single source of microplastics is estimated to be abrasion from car tyres and road markings. But this issue is likely to prove much more difficult to address than a relatively straightforward ban on microbeads in shampoo, where substitutes are readily available.

Over 280 marine species have been found to ingest microplastics, but the MPs say much more research is needed into plastic pollution because there is huge uncertainty about the ecological risk.

"We are absolutely committed to protecting the world's seas, oceans and marine life from pollution, and will take a detailed look at the recommendations contained in this timely report," a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

 

"Many leading manufacturers have already taken voluntary steps to remove microbeads from cosmetics, beauty products and toothpastes. We will now consider what further action is appropriate, and make any announcements in due course."

20160823

Could mouthwash combat gonorrhoea?

"A gargle a day keeps gonorrhoea away" is an unlikely slogan, but researchers believe it could hold some truth.

Recent studies have shown people can carry the sexually transmitted infection in their throats for weeks or months without symptoms.

And they could spread it to others through unprotected oral sex.

So investigators are looking at whether regular mouthwash might help stop the silent spread and experts think it is an idea that is worth exploring.

Gonorrhoea is a bacterium and it can live in secretions in the throat as well as the penis and vagina and is spread by oral, anal and vaginal sex.

secretion【名】分泌(物)

The disease - which was common in the first half of the 1900s until the discovery of an effective antibiotic treatment - is seeing a resurgence.

Doctors are worried that the number of new cases have been rocketing in recent years. Latest figures from Public Health England show that between 2012 and 2015 gonorrhoea infections rose by 53%, from 26,880 to 41,193.

Medics are increasingly concerned that the infection may eventually become untreatable, following the emergence of "super-gonorrhoea" - a drug-resistant strain that can dodge the usual antibiotic used to treat it.

Public Health England recently detected an outbreak of azithromycin-resistant gonorrhoea in northern England.

azithromycin【名】アジスロマイシン◆マクロライド系抗生物質

Fortunately, the strain can still be treated with another antibiotic called ceftriaxone, but PHE says there's no room for complacency and it's monitoring the situation carefully.

ceftriaxone【名】《化学》セフトリアキソン

complacency【名】〈軽蔑的〉現状に満足しきっていること、自己満足

no room for 余裕はない

complacent com- com- + placre to please

If azithromycin becomes ineffective against gonorrhoea, there is no "second lock" to prevent or delay the emergence of ceftriaxone resistance and gonorrhoea may become untreatable, they warn.

lock【名】ロック、錠

Cases were first spotted in Leeds in November 2014.

It then spread to the West Midlands and the south of England, with five cases found in London.

By April 2016, the total number of people identified with the infection had reached 34 and included heterosexual couples and men who have sex with men.

Condoms are the best way to stop gonorrhoea spreading, but some experts believe there may also be another opportunity - mouthwash.

Studies suggests the throat could be a breeding ground for hard-to-treat bacteria.

Gonorrhoea can persist here without symptoms and swap DNA with other throat microbes that already know how to dodge certain antibiotics.

Prof Christopher Fairley from Monash University has been testing the mouthwash theory in 58 male volunteers.

All of the men had detectable levels of throat gonorrhoea at the start of the trial.

He asked half of them to gargle and swill for a minute with saltwater while he gave the others a branded antiseptic mouthwash, bought from a supermarket, to use instead.

swill【名】洗い流し

branded【形】ブランド[商標]のついた

antiseptic【名】消毒剤 sepsis decay

He retested them five minutes later to see if the gargling had helped. It appeared to, reducing the detectable amount of bacteria significantly more than the saltwater rinse.

Prof Fairley says more studies are needed to check how long this effect might last and what protection it might offer.

He's now recruiting more volunteers to take part in a three-month trial to see what impact daily gargling might have on gonorrhoea throat carriage.

Dr Anatole Menon-Johansson is an expert in sexual health and clinical director for the charity Brook.

He says Prof Fairley "could well be on to something".

be on to something

informal Have an idea or information that is likely to lead to an important discovery.

"I heard his presentation at a medical conference and I was really impressed. It's obviously still only a hypothesis. There's lots more to do and explore. But it's interesting, and it's got everybody thinking.

"If you could use a mouthwash there's a chance at the population level that it might make a difference to infection rates."

Men visiting his sexual health clinic are offered pharyngeal testing for gonorrhoea.

pharyngeal【形】咽頭の

If the test comes back positive, the clinic runs extra checks to see what treatments the bacteria will respond to and which ones are doomed to fail because of drug resistance.

"These organisms have been with us humans for thousands of years and will continue to be. The challenge is working out ways to control transmission and make sure we have drugs that can still treat it."

Dr Gwenda Hughes, Head of the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Section at Public Health England (PHE), said: "Gonorrhoea infection in the throat usually has no symptoms but both men and women can get it by having unprotected oral sex.

"The only protection is by using condoms when having sex with new or casual partners and it's important to have regular check-ups at a sexual health clinic. Sexually active gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men should get tested for STI's at least every three months.

"PHE continues to monitor, and act on, the spread of antibiotic resistance and potential gonorrhoea treatment failures by investigating identified cases, sexual history and treatment to make sure they are managed promptly."

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea can affect anyone who has had unprotected sex

One in 10 men and half of women with gonorrhoea will have no signs or symptoms

Symptoms can include a yellow or green discharge and burning sensation when urinating

Doctors can test for gonorrhoea by sending off a swab or a urine sample

Previous successful treatment for gonorrhoea doesn't make you immune to catching the infection again

 

swab【名】〔綿棒で採取した〕標本

 

20160822

Smallpox eradication 'giant' Donald Henderson dies at 87

 

Smallpox, an infectious disease, was once one of the world's biggest killers

US doctor and epidemiologist Donald Henderson, who led a successful campaign to wipe out smallpox worldwide, has died at the age of 87.

Hailed as a "giant" in the field of public health for his work in the 1960s and 70s, Henderson died of complications after breaking a hip.

 

break the hip腰[股関節]を骨折する

 

One of the world's deadliest diseases, smallpox killed hundreds of millions of people in the last century alone.

Apart from causing great pain, it often caused lesions on the face and body.

And it killed about one in three of those infected.

It was officially declared to have been eradicated in 1980 - the first infectious disease to have been fought on a global scale.

'Changed the world for the better'

The World Health Organization appointed Henderson, known as D.A, to lead its drive to stamp out the disease in 1966. At the time it was still endemic in Africa and Asia.

Few gave him much chance of success. But Henderson focussed on isolating outbreaks of the disease and systematically vaccinating people, rather than a mass vaccination programme.

After his work for the WHO, Henderson went on to serve as science and bioterrorism adviser to three US presidents as well holding other academic and medical posts.

Henderson "truly changed the world for the better," a tribute from Tom Inglesby, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Health Security said.

"He led the effort to rid the world of smallpox. He advised presidents. He was honoured by countries around the planet. He changed the way schools of public health teach the next generation.

 

"With all of that, he still took the time to be a mentor to countless young people, and was a great friend. He is truly irreplaceable, and I will miss him."

 

20160821

Parkinson's could potentially be detected by an eye test

Researchers may have discovered a method of detecting changes in the eye which could identify Parkinson's disease before its symptoms develop.

Scientists at University College London (UCL) say their early animal tests could lead to a cheap and non-invasive way to spot the disease.

Parkinson's affects 1 in 500 people and is the second most common neurodegenerative disease worldwide.

The charity Parkinson's UK welcomed the research as a "significant step".

The researchers examined rats and found that changes could be seen at the back of their eyes before visible symptoms occurred.

Professor Francesca Cordeiro who led the research said it was a "potentially revolutionary breakthrough in the early diagnosis and treatment of one of the world's most debilitating diseases".

 

debilitating【形】衰弱[消耗]させる

bel- 強い、激しい、健康な。

-ate 次の意を表す動詞語尾 1「…させる、…する…になる」

 

"These tests mean we might be able to intervene much earlier and more effectively treat people with this devastating condition."

Symptoms of Parkinson's include tremors and muscle stiffness, slowness of movement and a reduced quality of life.

These symptoms usually only emerge after brain cells have been damaged.

But there is currently no brain scan, or blood test, that can definitively diagnose Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's does not directly cause people to die, but symptoms do get worse over time.

Well known sufferers

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74, decades after developing the degenerative brain disease Parkinson's. Although his brain disease did not kill him - Ali died following complications linked to a chest infection - it was arguably one of his greatest challenges.

Michael J Fox is another high profile sufferer. He revealed in 1998 that he had been suffering from Parkinson's since 1981. He took a step back from acting to battle the disease.

Billy Connolly revealed in 2013 he had been diagnosed as having the initial symptoms of Parkinson's disease, for which he is receiving the appropriate treatment.

Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011 when he was 82. A neurologist himself, he said he was having troubles with walking.

Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at the charity Parkinson's UK, said there was "an urgent need for a simple and accurate way of detecting the condition, particularly in its early stages".

"Although the research is in its infancy and is yet to be tested on people with Parkinson's, a simple non-invasive test - such as an eye test - could be a significant step forward in the search for treatments that can tackle the underlying causes of the condition rather than masking its symptoms," he added.

 

mask symptoms症状を隠す[ごまかす]症状だけを抑え、病気そのものは治せないことを示唆する 現在のところ、完璧な治療ができないのだ。

 

Dr Roach pointed out that the charity was funding parallel research which is trying to identify Parkinson's bio-markers, which are measureable changes in people with the condition.

 

biomarker【名】体の状態や病態を示す指標

 

"Having a biomarker for Parkinson's would help diagnose Parkinson's earlier, when people are most likely to benefit from the new treatments aimed at slowing progression," he explained.

The UCL researchers used medical equipment that doctors already use and say the potential new method could also be used to monitor how patients respond to treatment.

The researchers also found that treating their test animals with a newly formulated version of an anti-diabetic drug led to less cell damage.

They said that was another area they would be keen to explore in human trials.

 

Their research is published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

20160815

Zika found to remain in sperm for record six months

 

The Zika virus has been found in the sperm of an Italian man six months after his first symptoms, twice as long as in previously reported cases.

Doctors at the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome said it pointed to the possibility that the virus was reproducing itself in the male genital tract.

The infection is suspected of leading to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Zika is spread by mosquitos.

The outbreak was declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation in February.

The doctors' report suggests the potential for the sexual transmission of the virus may be greater than previously thought.

Current guidelines recommend infected patients should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least six months after the onset of symptoms.

The doctors said in light of this new evidence an extension of this recommendation might be advised, as well as the continued testing of semen after six months.

Christian Lindmeier from the WHO told the BBC the report would be looked at.

"The Zika outbreak is a constantly evolving situation and every new piece of evidence is looked into and evaluated as to whether or not guidelines will need to be revised."

The patient, who was in his early 40s, first presented symptoms after returning to Italy after a two-week visit to Haiti in January.

The patient reported he had received mosquito bites in Haiti, and his symptoms included fever, fatigue and a skin rash.

Follow-up testing showed the Zika virus was still present in his urine, saliva and sperm, 91 days after the onset of symptoms.

After 134 days it was only detectable in his sperm and this remained positive after 181 days.

Previously the longest registered symptoms remaining in the body after their onset was 93 days, found in a 27-year-old Frenchman.

 

"The results of this study confirm that the virus could replicate specifically in the male genital tract and may persist in semen," the Italian team said.

20160814

Tooth in poo suggests ancient shark ate its young

 

Scientists have discovered a baby tooth in the fossilised faeces of a prehistoric shark, and concluded that the animals ate their own young.

This rare evidence of "filial cannibalism" was only revealed because the shark's corkscrew-shaped rectum produced dung in a distinctive spiral.

One such dropping, collected in Canada, holds a tiny tooth of the same species.

These Orthacanthus sharks lived in coastal swamps and may have resorted to cannibalism as they expanded inland.

 

resort to〔最後の手段として〕~に訴える、~を用いる

 

The macabre sample was gathered by University of Bristol masters student Aodhan O Gogain, now studying for a PhD at Trinity College Dublin, as part of a wider investigation into prehistoric fish on the coast of New Brunswick.

 

macabre【形】〈フランス語〉ゾッとするような、恐ろしい◆死を連想させるような気味の悪さを含意する。

 

Like much of North America and Europe, this land used to sit near the equator and was thick with tropical jungles.

What was trees and swamps 300 million years ago is now coal-rich rock; the fossils in Mr O Gogain's study come from the reclaimed site of North America's oldest coal mine, opened in 1639.

 

reclaimed site埋立地

 

He said the highlight of his research, published in the journal Palaeontology, is definitely the notion of prehistoric cannibal sharks.

notion【名】考え、見解心象、観念、イメージ

 

The shark's "coprolites" have a distinct spiral shape

"Other people have looked at their diet and found that their stomach contents contained little amphibians," Mr O Gogain told the BBC.

"And there's also evidence that these sharks ate other genuses of xenacanth shark. But this is the first bit of evidence we have that they were eating their own young as well."

The claim for cannibalism rests on two distinctive aspects of Orthacanthus biology.

Firstly, its unusual shape means the fossilised poo, known as a "coprolite", can be conclusively identified as belonging to one of these large, freshwater sharks.

Secondly, the little tooth that was revealed when the researchers cut into the coprolite is also identifiable.

"These sharks have very distinctive tricuspid teeth, where they have little tusks coming up from the tooth," said Mr O Gogain. "We're fairly confident of this discovery."

 

tricuspidal. having three cusps or points, as a tooth.

 

The evidence is not unprecedented, he added; modern-day bull sharks, which occupy a similar niche in coastal swamps and shallow seas, have been known to feast on their young when necessary.

 

niche【名】《生態》生態的地位 自然環境の中である生物が他の生物との競争などを経て獲得した、生存を可能にする条件がそろっている場所。

feast on~を大いに楽しむ

 

"Sharks tend to have a wide dietary range. They're not really picky eaters."

Study co-author Dr Howard Falcon-Lang from Royal Holloway University of London said the discovery suggested the eel-shaped sharks - apex predators of their ecosystem - were facing a food shortage.

 

apex predator《生態》〔食物連鎖の〕頂点[最上位]捕食者

 

 

"There's cannibalism and then there's specifically filial cannibalism. And that is relatively unusual," he told BBC News.

"We generally find it in rather stressed ecosystems, where for whatever reason, food is running scarce. Obviously it's evolutionarily a bad move to eat your own young unless you absolutely have to.

"But in these 300 million-year-old ecosystems we're finding evidence for filial cannibalism quite commonly, based on the coprolite remains."

This period was a time of invasion, Dr Falcon-Lang explained. The land was rich in plants but not yet well stocked with animals, and aquatic beasts like these sharks were expanding their territory into fresh water.

 

"Part of this story, we think, is that during this invasion of fresh water, sharks were cannibalising their young in order to find the resources to keep on exploring into the continental interiors."

20160813

Wild New Caledonian crows possess tool-craft talent

Scientists have confirmed that a species of wild crow from New Caledonia in the South Pacific can craft tools.

The birds were observed bending twigs into hooks to extract food hidden in wooden logs.

Previously this skill had been seen in captive birds kept in laboratories.

The study, published in the journal Open Science, suggests that this talent is part of the birds' natural behaviour.

Brainy Betty

In 2002, a captive New Caledonian crow - called Betty - astonished scientists.

Researchers at the University of Oxford presented her with an out-of-reach bucket of food.

To retrieve it, she bent a piece of wire into a hook - the first time such tool-making skills had been seen in the animal world.

Betty died in 2005, but over the years, the experiment was successfully repeated with other captive birds - including rooks, which have not been seen to use tools in the wild.

Stick tool skills have now been recorded in crows in the wild

Lead author Dr Christian Rutz, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, said: "It seemed as if this was something that the birds spontaneously invented in the lab."

While it has long been known that wild New Caledonian crows use twigs to extract grubs from wooden logs, the researchers say there is now enough evidence to confirm that they also bend them into hooks just like their captive counterparts.

In a series of experiments, the researchers captured crows from the tropical forests of New Caledonia, and placed them for short periods of time in make-shift aviaries.

Dr Rutz said: "This means we can test them under highly controlled experimental conditions - but the kind of experiments we do there, they don't look at how smart these animals are, they ask what sort of tool behaviour they express naturally."

The crows were presented with a wooden log, which had some tasty snacks tucked into holes in the surface.

"The only other thing we provided in the aviary was the plant material, which we knew they naturally used for tool-making in the wild," explained Dr Rutz.

"So the task was very simple, we asked our subjects to make tools, then use these tools to extract the hidden food."

The crows did not need to fashion hooks to retrieve the treats, but 10 of the 18 wild-caught birds did so.

The researchers observed them snapping thin branches off of the shrubs, holding the twigs down with a foot, then bending the end into a hook - just as Betty had done with the wire.

During further field research, the scientists also saw the birds manufacturing hook-shaped contraptions outside of the aviaries - confirming that this was part of the crows' natural behaviour.

contraption【名】新案、工夫珍妙な仕掛け

When tested, 10 of 19 wild-caught birds fashioned hooks to retrieve food

The researchers say they believe that the New Caledonian crows are fashioning twigs into hooks to improve the performance of the tools.

"We think the bending helps with the tool ergonomics," said Dr Rutz.

"It helps them to position their tools in their bill, and centre the tip of the tool - the functional end they insert into holes and crevices - to centre that in their field of binocular vision."

He said the finding that wild New Caledonian crows had this ability shouldn't detract from Betty's original performance.

detract【自動】〔価値・質・重要性・名声などを〕損なう、減じる、落とす

"But", he added, "it raises the possibility that she just expressed natural behaviour rather than assessing the task and then coming up with a clever solution."

The researchers now want to find out how tool-use comes about - to see if it is innate or learned as younger birds watch the older generation. The team also want to know whether other species of birds use tools to see whether this behaviour is rare or widespread.

Prof Alex Kacelnik, from the University of Oxford, who carried out the original experiments with Betty, told BBC News: "I'm delighted to see that the findings made one and a half decades ago in the lab are now corroborated by work in the field."

"It would be surprising if an ability displayed by captive animals were not within the range of what wild animals can do."

He added that Betty used a number of different methods to bend wires into hooks, and could also unbend them when required - behaviour not yet seen in the wild.

"We never claimed that Betty was a freak with exceptional intelligence, and as they correctly say, this is evidence neither for or against an exceptional cognitive capacity in the animals."

freak【名】〈話・軽蔑的〉変わり者

Also commenting on the research, Dr Nathan Emery, from Queen Mary University of London and author of Bird Brain: An exploration of avian intelligence, said it was an interesting study but added that Betty still deserved some credit.

deserve credit称賛に値する

"Despite the fact that New Caledonian crows naturally bend pliable yet strong material into hooks, there still remains the significant finding that Betty solved a novel problem using an innovative solution with a novel material," he said.

pliable【形】〔物が〕曲げやすい、しなやかな

"I think it wouldn't be wise (or fair) to completely dismiss Betty's ability to solve a novel problem using a novel material, even if the means of making a hook were part of her biology."

20160806

Moon Express cleared for lunar landing

China's Jade Rabbit was the most recent visitor to the moon in 2013

Moon Express has become the first private firm to win US approval for an unmanned mission to the moon.

The two-week mission was given the go-ahead by the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

The plan is to send a suitcase-sized lander to the moon in late 2017.

The lander, which is not yet completed, will be carried on a rocket made by Rocket Lab, a start-up firm which has not launched any commercial missions.

Science experiments and some commercial cargo will be carried on the one-way trip to the lunar surface.

Moon Express also plans to beam pictures back to the Earth.

What if you could mine the moon?

"The Moon Express 2017 mission approval is a landmark decision by the US government and a pathfinder for private sector commercial missions beyond Earth's orbit," said Moon Express co-founder Bob Richards.

His partner, Naveen Jain, says the company is keen to explore the possibilities of mining on the moon.

"In the immediate future we envision bringing precious resources, metals and moon rocks back to Earth," he said.

Mr Jain, was born in India, but moved to the US in 1979 where he worked in the technology industry and founded technology firms.

Co-founder Bob Richards is a Canadian-born space entrepreneur, and the firm's third founder is entrepreneur Barney Pell.

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.

Media captionAlastair Leithead gets a look at the prototype Lunar Express lander

Moon race

Moon Express is one of the teams competing for the Lunar X Prize, which was set up in 2007.

There is a $20m prize, funded by Google, for the first commercial group to land a probe on the moon.

So far only government missions have flown spacecraft beyond the Earth's orbit, with the Chinese completing the most recent visits to the moon.

In December 2013 China landed a rover on the moon as part of its Chang'e-3 mission - the first "soft" landing on the Moon since 1976.

Other private companies are expected to follow Moon Express and seek permission to fly to the Moon.

 

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX plans to go even further, with a Mars mission in 2018.

20160802

Women without appendix 'more fertile'

 

Women who have had their appendix or tonsils removed appear to be more fertile, a 15-year study suggests.

The researchers, at the University of Dundee, analysed medical records from more than half a million British women.

They argue the operations could directly affect fertility or there may be a "behavioural" explanation.

Experts said the findings might lead to new treatments, but advised women not to have their tonsils and appendix taken out unnecessarily.

The study found that for every 100 pregnancies in women who had had no procedures there were:

134 pregnancies in women who had had their appendix removed

149 pregnancies in women who had had their tonsils removed

and 143 pregnancies in women who had had both removed

One of the researchers, Dr Sami Shimi, said most doctors were wrongly taught that having an appendix removed damaged fertility.

'Reassuring'

He told BBC News: "This [study] is very important in reassuring young women that appendicectomy will not reduce their chances of future pregnancy.

"More importantly, looking at both the appendix and tonsils together, this study confirms beyond doubt that removal of inflamed organs or organs likely to suffer from repeated inflammation, in women, improves their chances of pregnancy."

Explaining the findings, published in Fertility and Sterility, is more of a challenge.

Medical records from more than half a million British women were analysed by researchers

One biological possibility is that regularly infected tonsils or appendixes raise levels of inflammation in the body, which affects the ovaries and womb.

The Dundee team favour a behavioural explanation such as women enjoying more "liberal sexual activity", being both more likely to get pregnant and have pelvic inflammatory disease, which could lead to an appendix being removed.

More research is needed to figure this out.

'Interesting paper'

Prof Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield, told the BBC: "This is an interesting paper which suggests that surgical removal of the appendix or tonsils (or both) in young women is associated with an increase in their fertility later in life.

"There are several explanations which may account for these observations, one of which is that the removal of these tissues makes an alteration to their immune system which has an impact to some aspect of the reproductive process (such as how their embryos implant in the womb).

"If true, this may ultimately give doctors and scientists some new ideas for novel drugs or therapies to enhance women's fertility.

"But to suggest that infertile women have their tonsils or appendix removed as a way of improving their chances is a step too far at this stage."

 

Follow James on Twitter.

20160801

Cancer found in ancient human ancestor's foot

The earliest evidence of cancer in the human fossil record has been discovered in a cave in South Africa, an international team of scientists say.

The aggressive tumour was found in a 1.7 million-year-old toe from an ancient human ancestor.

The toe belonged to one of the early hominins, either Homo ergaster or Paranthropus robustus.

The researchers said the findings clearly show cancer is not a disease of modern society, as some people claim.

Tumours have been detected in remains before - a Croatian Neandertal who walked the Earth around 120,000 years ago was one of the oldest.

The new discovery was made in a toe bone from Swartkrans cave in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site near Johannesburg.

Data, published in the South African Journal of Science, showed the metatarsal had osteosarcoma - a rare and deadly form of bone cancer.

 

metatarsal【名】《解剖》中足骨 Greek tarsos flat of the foot

 

Meanwhile, the South African and British researchers also found a benign growth in the backbone of a two million-year-old Australopithecus sediba fossil from the Malapa cave.

Despite cancers being detected in a wide range of species, some people believe the disease is a uniquely modern problem.

Edward Odes, one of the researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand, said: "Modern medicine tends to assume that cancers and tumours in humans are diseases caused by modern lifestyles and environments. Our studies show the origins of these diseases occurred in our ancient relatives millions of years before modern industrial societies existed."

Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney, from the University of Central Lancashire, told the BBC News website: "The idea that cancers are recent has come out of work on Egyptian mummies where they failed to find evidence of cancers in X-rays, which has skewed our reasoning on this."

skew【他動】ゆがめる、歪曲する

However, he added that modern lifestyles do increase the risk of some tumours: "The rise of colorectal cancer with a Western diet, liver cancers from alcohol consumption, lung cancer and smoking are all diseases of modernity.

"There's lots of different causes of cancer and they change through history - if you were a chimney sweep in London you were likely to get lung cancer - a lot is context dependent with new diets and new toxins."

Hannah Birkett, from the Bone Cancer Research Trust, commented: "This discovery is really exciting for osteosarcoma and the field of primary bone cancer research as a whole.

"Modern lifestyles and environmental factors loom large in people's perceptions of the cause of cancer and this finding reconfirms the importance of considering other factors such as bone growth.

loom large〔危険・心配などが〕大きく迫る[立ちはだかる]

 

"This discovery will hopefully open new doors into investigating the cause of osteosarcoma further."

20160729

Antibiotic resistance: 'Snot wars' study yields new class of drugs

A new class of antibiotics has been discovered by analysing the bacterial warfare taking place up people's noses, scientists report.

Tests reported in the journal Nature found the resulting drug, lugdunin, could treat superbug infections.

The researchers, at the University of Tubingen in Germany, say the human body is an untapped source of new drugs.

The last new class of the drugs to reach patients was discovered in the 1980s.

Nearly all antibiotics were discovered in soil bacteria, but the University of Tubingen research team turned to the human body.

Dreaded superbug

Our bodies might not look like a battlefield, but on a microscopic level a struggle for space and food is taking place between rival species of bacteria.

One of the weapons they have long been suspected of using is antibiotics.

Among the bugs that like to invade the nose is Staphylococcus aureus, including the dreaded superbug strain MRSA.

It is found in the noses of 30% of people.

But why not everyone?

The scientists discovered that people with the rival bug Staphylococcus lugdunensis in their nostrils were less likely to have S. aureus.

The German team used various strains of genetically-modified S. lugdunensis to work out the crucial piece of genetic code that allowed it to win the fight to live among your nose hairs.

They eventually pinpointed a single crucial gene that contained the instructions for building a new antibiotic, which they named lugdunin.

Tests on mice showed lugdunin could treat superbug infections on the skin including MRSA, as well as Enterococcus infections.

One of the researchers, Dr Bernhard Krismer, said: "Some of the animals were completely clear, no single cell of the bacterium was detectable.

"Others were reduced, but still contained some bacteria and we also saw that the compound penetrated the tissue and acted on the deeper layer of the skin."

It will take years of testing before lugdunin could reach patients and it may not prove to be successful.

But new antibiotics are desperately needed as doctors face the growing challenge of infections that resist current drugs and could become untreatable.

'Pressure to eliminate'

Fellow researcher Prof Andreas Peschel said the body could be mined for new antibiotics.

"Lugdunin may be the first example of such an antibiotic, we have started a screening programme," he said.

And he even believes that people could one day be infected with genetically-modified bacteria to fight their infections.

He argued: "By introducing the lugdunin genes into a completely innocuous bacterial species we hope to develop a new preventive concept of antibiotics that can eradicate pathogens."

Prof Kim Lewis and Dr Philip Strandwitz, from the antimicrobial discovery centre at Northeastern University in the US, commented: "It may seem surprising that a member of the human microbiota - the community of bacteria that inhabits the body - produces an antibiotic.

"However, the microbiota is composed of more than a thousand species, many of which compete for space and nutrients, and the selective pressure to eliminate bacterial neighbours is high."

Prof Colin Garner, the head of Antibiotic Research UK, told the BBC: "Altering the balance of bacteria in our bodies through the production of natural antibiotics could eventually be exploited to fight off bacterial infections.

"It is possible that this report will be the first of many demonstrating that bacteria in our bodies can produce novel antibiotics with new chemical structures.

 

"Alongside a report that men with beards have fewer pathogens including MRSA on their faces than clean-shaven men, it seems the paper identifying lugdunin should be viewed alongside facial hair as a preventer of infection."

 

20160726

Solar Impulse completes historic round-the-world trip

The Solar Impulse has become the first aircraft to circle the globe powered by the sun, after landing in Abu Dhabi on the last leg of its journey.

Bertrand Piccard piloted the plane for a final time, steering it safely from the Egyptian capital Cairo to the UAE.

He has been taking turns at the controls with Swiss compatriot Andre Borschberg.

It brings to an end an epic, 17-leg voyage that began in Abu Dhabi on 9 March last year.

The journey took in four continents, three seas and two oceans.

The longest leg, a 8,924km (5,545-mile) flight from Nagoya in Japan to Hawaii, US, lasted nearly 118 hours and saw Mr Borschberg break the world record for longest uninterrupted solo flight.

Plane graphic

Mr Piccard and Mr Borschberg have been working on the Solar Impulse project for more than a decade.

The pair had hoped to complete the challenge last year but progress was not quite swift enough to get the best of the weather in the Northern Hemisphere's summer.

Solar Impulse is no heavier than a car, but has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. It is powered by 17,000 solar cells.

But the experimental design presents a number of technical challenges, with the airplane very sensitive to weather conditions.

Indeed, the passage from Cairo was very bumpy for Mr Piccard as he battled severe turbulence above the hot Saudi desert.

 

The cockpit is about the size of a public telephone box, with the pilots having to wear oxygen tanks to breathe at high altitude and permitted to only sleep for 20 minutes at a time.

 

20160630

Brexit: Obama warns on global growth after UK vote

 

"There are some genuine longer term concerns about global growth"

US President Barack Obama has said the UK vote to leave the EU raises "longer-term concerns about global growth".

He said Brexit would freeze "the possibilities of investment in Great Britain or in Europe as a whole".

He appealed to the UK prime minister and other EU leaders to ensure an orderly process for the British exit.

Earlier EU leaders warned that the UK must honour the principle of free movement of people if it wants to retain access to the single market.

The leaders of the other 27 EU countries were meeting in Brussels without the UK for the first time in more than 40 years.

Mr Obama was speaking at a summit in Ottawa with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, aimed at strengthening economic ties between North American countries.

He said the preparations by central banks and finance ministers indicated that "global economy in the short run will hold steady".

But he added: "I think there are some genuine longer-term concerns about global growth if in fact Brexit goes through and that freezes the possibilities of investment in Great Britain or in Europe as a whole.

"At a time when global growth rates were weak already, this doesn't help," the president said.

Mr Obama also strongly defended free trade and promised to press on with plans for a Trans-Pacific Partnership.

press on with~をどんどん押し進める、~を強力に推進する、~を続行する

Without mentioning Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump - who opposes the plan - he said: "We've had times throughout our history where anti-immigration sentiment is exploited by demagogues. But guess what? They kept coming."

Guess whatちょっと聞いてよ、面白い話があるよ、聞いてくれる?、何だと思う?、おい、あててみろよ◆会話の最初に相手の興味を引き付けるときに言う

keep coming次から次に[ひっきりなしに]やって来る

Mr Obama said his main message to Britain and Germany was: "Everybody should catch their breath. I think that will be a difficult, challenging process, but it does not need to be a panicky process,''

The president said he had spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and that her interest was making sure Britain's exit worked, not retribution.

Mrs Merkel was one of many EU leaders to stress again on Wednesday that freedom of movement for EU citizens was an essential part of the single market - and that there would be no negotiations with the UK until the bloc was formally notified of its intention to leave.

After their meeting, the 27 EU leaders said in a statement: "Access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms."

The "four freedoms" that underlie the EU's internal market are the freedom of movement of goods, workers, services and capital.

British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned last week after the campaign he led for his country to remain in the EU was defeated in a country-wide referendum by 52% to 48%.

Mr Cameron has since the vote reiterated that the task of negotiating Britain's exit from the EU would be the responsibility of a new prime minister who would be in place by the time of the Conservative party conference in October.

The outgoing leader said that he would attempt to "steady the ship", but that it would be for the new prime minister to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal.

He told parliament in London that the issue of freedom of movement would be difficult to resolve.

 

"Frankly, it's a difficult issue inside the EU, where you've got all the negotiating ability to try and change things, and I think it will be in many ways even more difficult from outside," he said.

これでクリントンに決まったかな。

20160629

Vodafone could move London HQ outside UK post-Brexit

Vodafone has warned it could move its headquarters from the UK depending on the outcome of Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union.

The telecoms giant said in an emailed statement it was important to retain access to the EU's free "movement of people, capital and goods".

It was too early "draw any firm conclusions regarding the long-term location for the headquarters".

But Vodafone said that it would "take whatever decisions are appropriate".

draw a conclusion結論を出す[下す]、結論に達する、推断する

Last week, chief executive Vittorio Colao told the BBC - ahead of the referendum vote - that Britain risked exclusion from plans for a giant new single market in digital services if it left the EU.

exclusion【名】排除、除外

Vodafone said in the email to several media organisations that EU membership, including the free movement of people, had helped drive its growth.

membership【名】会員であること

The firm employs 13,000 people in the UK. It has an operating division at Newbury, Berkshire, but the group headquarters are in London.

Vodafone said that 55% of group profits in the last financial year came from its European operations, with the UK providing just 11%. The company is also to start reporting its financial results in euros, rather than pounds.

Vodafone said the single legal framework spanning all member states, as well as freedom of movement, capital and goods, were "integral to the operation of any pan-European business".

legal framework法的枠組み

integral(完全体をなすのに)不可欠な、必須の

The company said: "It remains unclear at this point how many of those positive attributes will remain in place once the process of the UK's exit from the European Union has been completed," it said.

'Real and genuine concern'

Vodafone said it would strengthen its regulatory and public policy activities in Brussels "to ensure the group's substantial businesses within the European Union continue to be represented appropriately".

Vodafone is the seventh largest company listed on the FTSE 100, with operations in 26 countries. It employs 108,000 staff outside the UK.

Other businesses have expressed alarm at the vote to leave the EU and the consequences of not being part of the European single market.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid hosted a meeting of business representatives on Tuesday to discuss the issues.

Mr Javid said: "The biggest issue raised was the need to secure continued access to the single market. While I am not in any position to make promises, I assured everyone that my number one priority will be just that in the negotiations to come," he told a news conference after the meeting.

After the meeting, the head of the CBI employers organisation said the government was "a long way off" having a plan.

 

"There are very high levels of real and genuine concern in the business community," CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn told reporters.

野村に4000株賭けていたが、まさか外れるとは思っていなかった。今日、再度1000株勝負に賭けた。

20160620

Obama tells Dalai Lama to speak to China

China has objected to President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama

US President Barack Obama has met the Dalai Lama in private and told him he encourages dialogue with China, the White House has said.

The two met in Washington despite Chinese objections.

China has denounced meetings between foreign leaders and the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, whom the country considers a separatist.

The pair, who have met several times before, talked behind closed doors in the White House Map Room.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman condemned Wednesday's meeting.

"If the United States plans this meeting, it will send the wrong signal to Tibet independence and separatist forces and harm China-US mutual trust and cooperation," said Lu Kang.

Mr Obama encouraged direct dialogue between the Dalai Lama and China, the White House said.

"Tibet, per US policy, is considered part of the People's Republic of China, and the United States has not articulated our support for Tibetan independence,'' said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

per【前】~につき、~ごとに、~によって、~を通じて、~で

articulate【他動】〔考えを〕はっきりと[明確に]話す[述べる]

"Both the Dalai Lama and President Obama value the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the United States and China.

"All of those were policy positions of the United States before the meeting occurred. Our policy hasn't changed after the meeting.''

policy position政治的な立場

The Dalai Lama last visited the White House in 2014

Mr Obama has previously described the Tibetan Buddhist leader as a "good friend".

The Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

 

The Buddhist leader has pushed for more Tibetan autonomy while China accuses him of encouraging outright independence.

Map Room がとてもいいね。

20160617

Orlando shooting: Obama condemns LGBT discrimination

Discrimination against LGBT people must be tackled at home and abroad, President Obama has said after meeting relatives of Orlando attack victims.A gunman killed 49 people on Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in the city.Mr Obama challenged the Republican-controlled Congress to pass gun control legislation.But Republican Senator John McCain said the president was "directly responsible" because he had failed to tackle the Islamic State group.Gunman Omar Mateen claimed allegiance to the militant group as he carried out the massacre.The senator said: "When he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became Isis [Islamic State], and Isis is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama's failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq."He later clarified that he did not mean the president was personally responsible.On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered outside the Amway Center in Orlando as the president and Vice-President Joe Biden consoled relatives inside.

Republican Senator John McCainの言は正しいと思う。Mr Obama、EUは手を打つべき時にそれをして来なかった。苦渋の決断ができなかった。

20160609

Apple's Siri calls ambulance for baby

A woman from Cairns, Australia, used Siri to call an ambulance for her one-year-old daughter when she stopped breathing.

Stacey Gleeson grabbed her iPhone and ran to the child's room to help her but dropped it as she turned on the light.

She shouted at the handset to activate Siri and told it to get the emergency services on speakerphone as she began CPR.

Ms Gleeson told the BBC she feels it may have saved her daughter's life.

She instructed Siri to call an ambulance on speakerphone and was able to communicate with the emergency services while resuscitating Giana.

Giana, who had been battling a chest infection and bronchiolitis, was breathing again when the ambulance arrived,

The child made a full recovery and doctors have told Ms Gleeson there was no lasting damage, but that every second had been vital.

It happened in March but the story has now gone viral after Ms Gleeson contacted Apple, who alerted Australian news outlet 7 News.

go viral〔インターネットや口コミで情報が〕急速に広まる[伝播する]

"As cheesy as it sounds I wanted to say thank you," she told the BBC.

"I've only had the phone since the start of the year.

cheesy【形】チーズの、ありふれた 。何故チーズなの、どこにでもチーズがあるからありふれているのかな。なんだかありふれた言葉だけどAnd sort of as cheesy as that sounds.

sound a little cheesy〈話〉少しありふれてるように思える[聞こえる]

"I had played around with Siri, I thought it was a fun feature. Now I have that feature turned on all the time and it will never be turned off again."

She had previously used it to call her husband Nic, who is in the Navy, on loudspeaker while getting the children ready for bed.

The function doesn't work on all iPhone models but Ms Gleeson has an iPhone 6S.

She said that even if she hadn't dropped the phone, she may have struggled to dial the number in the heat of the moment.

"Saving me the trouble of having to physically dial emergency services was a godsend."

godsend【名】天の恵み[たまもの]、思わぬ幸運

 

20160607

US bid to grow human organs for transplant inside pigs

Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.

They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.

The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.

The team from University of California, Davis says they should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

The human-pig chimeric embryos are being allowed to develop in the sows for 28 days before the pregnancies are terminated and the tissue removed for analysis.

Creating the chimeric embryos takes two stages. First, a technique known as CRISPR gene editing is used to remove DNA from a newly fertilised pig embryo that would enable the resulting foetus to grow a pancreas.

resulting creatureその結果生まれる生物

This creates a genetic "niche" or void. Then, human induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells are injected into the embryo. The iPS cells were derived from adult cells and "dialled back" to become stem cells capable of developing into any tissue in the body.

The team at UC Davis hopes the human stem cells will take advantage of the genetic niche in the pig embryo and the resulting foetus will grow a human pancreas.

Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist who is leading the research told me: "Our hope is that this pig embryo will develop normally but the pancreas will be made almost exclusively out of human cells and could be compatible with a patient for transplantation."

But the work is controversial. Last year, the main US medical research agency, the National Institutes of Health, imposed a moratorium on funding such experiments.

Human stem cells being injected into a pig embryo - the cells can be seen travelling down the tube on the right of screen

The main concern is that the human cells might migrate to the developing pig's brain and make it, in some way, more human.

少し人間の性質を有する脳を持つ豚って、外見は豚なのに脳は人間に似ているってSFの世界。

Pablo Ross says this is unlikely but is a key reason why the research is proceeding with such caution: "We think there is very low potential for a human brain to grow, but this is something we will be investigating."

His team has previously injected human stem cells into pig embryos but without first creating the genetic niche. Prof Ross said although they later found human cells in several parts of the developing foetus, they "struggled to compete" with the pig cells. By deleting a key gene involved in the creation of the pig pancreas, they hope the human cells will have more success creating a human-like pancreas.

Other teams in the United States have created human-pig chimeric embryos but none has allowed the foetuses to be born.

Walter Low, professor in the department of neurosurgery, University of Minnesota, said pigs were an ideal "biological incubator" for growing human organs, and could potentially be used to create not just a pancreas but hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs and corneas.

He said if the iPS cells were taken from a patient needing a transplant then these could be injected in a pig embryo which had the key genes deleted for creating the required organ, such as the liver: "The organ would be an exact genetic copy of your liver but a much younger and healthier version and you would not need to take immunosuppressive drugs which carry side-effects."

But Prof Low stressed that the research, using another form of gene editing called TALENs, was still at the preliminary stages, trying to identify the target genes which must be removed in order to prevent the pig from developing a particular organ.

His team is also trying to create dopamine-producing human neurons from chimeric embryos to treat patients with Parkinson's disease.

These embryos have been allowed to develop for up to 62 days - the normal gestation period is around 114 days.

Like the team in California, Prof Low said they were monitoring the effects on the pig brain: "With every organ we will look at what's happening in the brain and if we find that it's too human like, then we won't let those foetuses be born".

Gene editing has revitalised research into xenotransplantation, and the concept of using animal organs for humans.

In the mid-90s there were hopes that genetically modified pigs might provide an endless supply of organs for patients, and that cross-species transplants were not far off.

But clinical trials stalled because of fears that humans might be infected with animal viruses.

Last year, a team at Harvard Medical School used CRISPR gene editing to remove more than 60 copies of a pig retrovirus.

Prof George Church, who led the research, told me: "It opens up the possibility of not just transplantation from pigs to humans but the whole idea that a pig organ is perfectible.

"Gene editing could ensure the organs are very clean, available on demand and healthy, so they could be superior to human donor organs."

But organisations campaigning for an end to factory farming are dismayed at the thought of organ farms.

Peter Stevenson, from Compassion in World Farming, told me: "I'm nervous about opening up a new source of animal suffering. Let's first get many more people to donate organs. If there is still a shortage after that, we can consider using pigs, but on the basis that we eat less meat so that there is no overall increase in the number of pigs being used for human purposes."

In Greek mythology, chimeras were fire-breathing monsters composed of several animals - part lion, goat and snake. The scientific teams believe human-pig chimeras should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

Scott Fahrenkrug, whose Minnesota-based company Recombinetics is teaming up on the chimera research with Prof Low, told me: "Perhaps the term chimera is going to take on a new meaning and it will be one that's much more affectionate: chimeras will be seen to be what they are which is a saviour, given that they will provide, life-saving, sustaining organs for our patients."

 

Seven thousand people in the UK are on the transplant waiting list and hundreds die each year before a donor can be found.

Siriを使っていないけどもっと進化して欲しいな。

20160605

Muhammad Ali: Septic shock caused boxing legend's death

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali died of "septic shock due to unspecified natural causes", his family has said.

The three-time world heavyweight champion - one of the world's greatest sporting figures - died on Friday night at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 74-year-old had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson's disease.

A public funeral will be held for the boxer on Friday in his hometown of Louisville in Kentucky.

"He was a citizen of the world and would want people from all walks of life to be able to attend his funeral," said the family spokesman, Bob Gunnell.

people from all walks of life

さまざまな立場[職業]の人々、あらゆる階層の人々

Former US President Bill Clinton is among those who will give a eulogy at the service, and was one of many prominent global figures who paid tribute to Ali on Saturday, saying he lived a life "full of religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and live with the consequences".

live with the consequences結果を甘受する[受け入れる]

eu-combining form well, pleasant, or good: eupeptic, euphony

The legendary Brazilian footballer, Pele, said the sporting universe had suffered a huge loss. 

"Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it," said US President Barack Obama.

寂しいな。時代がどんどん終わっていく。

20160524

Google has rethought its plans for a modular smartphone and now plans to release a less customisable model than it had first proposed.

The revised Project Ara handset no longer allows its main display or processors to be swapped out.

Google said the new design meant it could offer more space to other parts that added unusual functions.

One expert said the move increased the initiative's chance of success.

"A fully modular smartphone would have gone against every trend in the industry to integrate components tightly together and make smaller, faster devices as a result," said Ian Fogg, from the consultancy IHS Technology.

go against【句動】合わない

"By putting the front display, the processors and some of the core functionality into the frame's board, rather than on removable modules, it has significantly de-risked the project.

"That may not offer as much flexibility to users as the original plan, but it makes it easier for Google to bring Project Ara to market quickly."

Google originally revealed it was working on a customisable phone in October 2013, after its Motorola division - which it later sold - teamed up with the creator of the Phonebloks concept.

Just over a year later, Google announced it would shortly begin a trial in Puerto Rico, where it intended to offer consumers a frame and a range of 20 to 30 clip-on modules.

A promotional video published at the time suggested one of the benefits would be that owners could easily swap out a cracked screen and replace it with a new part.

But in August 2015, the pilot was cancelled and there was a change in leadership.

Ara's lead engineer Rafa Camargo described the new design as putting "modularity where it counts".

count【自動】価値がある、有効である

"We've integrated the phone technology in the frame. That frees up space for modules that will create and integrate new functionality that you cannot get on your smartphone today," he told developers at Google's IO conference in California.

He added that the revision meant the phone's frame could also become thinner and modules could be swapped without having to reboot the device.

The project's head of creative, Blaise Bertrand, said that one potential module would be a glucometer for people with diabetes, which he said was something mass-market handsets were unlikely to incorporate as standard.

He added that an advantage over current kit was that the phone could track a user's blood-sugar level alongside their activity levels rather than in isolation.

Google proposed a module could be used to help diabetic patients take glucose readings

Other examples included:

a secondary e-paper display

a high-resolution camera

loud speakers

expandable storage

a kickstand

Mr Bertrand said his team was already working with Samsung, iHealth, Toshiba, Panasonic and Harman among others, to make the parts.

The current prototype can incorporate up to six modules, although Mr Camargo said that future frames could be larger or smaller.

Each slot should work for at least "10,000 connect cycles" he added, and the device could be made to eject one of the parts by giving it a voice command.

Ara phones can let the same type of module be fitted more than once, for example several speakers to play music louder

Google is now promising to release a developers' edition of the phone and "a few" modules before the end of the year, and aims to sell a version to the public in 2017.

It also intended to extend the concept to other types of computers, Mr Camargo added.

LG recently launched a modular phone of its own, to mixed reviews.

Media captionLG's phone has swappable parts that enable extra features

While many critics praised the idea behind the LG G5, they highlighted that only two add-on parts - a high-definition audio processor and a camera grip - currently took advantage of the facility.

"Google needs to make it very easy for developers to make the modules and easy for them to distribute and sell them," said Mr Fogg.

"How they are brought to market is going to be very important."

 

発展してほしいと思っていたのにな。

20160523

Pepper robot to open up to Android

Pepper is being used by a range of companies in Japan and in three French train stations

Pepper, the robot that has been trained to "perceive" human emotion, is opening up its platform to Android developers.

Maker SoftBank is hoping that it will spur new apps and new capabilities for the humanoid robot which has sold well but still has no clear defined purpose.

Ten thousand of the robots have been sold but developers have been slow to make apps for its closed Naoqi operating system.

NAOqi(ナオキ)は、仏AldebaranRobotics社が開発したミドルウェアである。同社の二足歩行ロボットNao、Pepper、Romeoに利用されている。

Android will run on a tablet strapped to the robot's chest.

Neither Google nor SoftBank has disclosed what sort of business deal they have struck and it is unclear if the robot will take advantage of new features such as the recently announced artificial intelligence Google Assistant.

strike【他動】取り決める、締結する

take advantage of~をうまく[巧みに]利用する、~を生かす、~を活用[駆使]する

open up to Androidするのだからintelligence Google Assistantを活用できるとなる

But it will almost certainly offer Google some degree of control over the robot as well as a cut of revenues.

Pepper was designed by French robotics firm Aldebaran

Pepper has been in big demand in Japan with each batch of 1,000 units selling out in minutes. It will go on pre-sale in the US in July.

It costs 198,000 yen ($1,800) and each one is sold at a loss.

at a loss困って、途方に暮れて売られるて、ロスで売られる、金銭的に損をして売られる、製造コストがかかるのか

The 1.2m (4ft) humanoid bot features more than 20 motors and has articulated arms. It was designed to understand emotions and mimic human body language - so, for instance, its shoulders go up when it is in standby mode, imitating sleep.

So far, Pepper is being used as a waiter, salesman and customer service representative in around 500 companies in Japan, including Nestle, Mizuho Bank and Nissan. 

articulated【形】関節のある[でつながった]

高価すぎる。もっと安くなってほしいな。

20160522

China's foreign ministry has denied reports that Chinese food companies are canning human flesh and selling it in Africa as corned beef.

corned【形】塩漬けの

corn【他動】塩漬けにする トウモロコシがなぜ塩漬けになるのか

to preserve and season with salt in grains.

The country's state-run Xinhua news agency said one tabloid newspaper in Zambia was falsely quoting an unnamed woman living in China.She said Chinese firms were collecting dead human bodies, marinating them and packing them in tins.Chinese spokesman Hong Lei said the reports were "irresponsible".The Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Yang Youming, said the reports were aimed at destroying the long-standing partnership between the two countries."Today a local tabloid newspaper is openly spreading a rumour, claiming that the Chinese use human meat to make corned beef and sell it to frica."This is a malicious slandering and vilification which is absolutely unacceptable to us.

slander【他動】~を中傷する

from Late Latin scandalum a cause of offence;  scandal

vile【形】不潔な、汚い、非常に嫌な、ひどい、卑しい

vilification【名】悪口

"We hereby express our utmost anger and the strongest condemnation over such an act."The photos supposedly showing dead bodies are actually from a marketing stunt from 2012 for the video game Resident Evil 6.A butchers selling fake "human meat" was set up at London's Smithfield Market and the same pictures have appeared in Zambia this week.Facebook post on Chinese human flesh being packaged as corned beef and tuna Zambia's Deputy Defence Minister Christopher Mulenga says his government will launch an investigation into the reports.

"The government of Zambia regrets the incident in view of the warm relations that exist between Zambia and China," he said.

"We shall make sure that relevant government authorities will take up the investigations and give a comprehensive statement."

Zambia has a large community of Chinese immigrants who've built successful businesses in the retail and construction industries.

China is also a key importer of Zambia's main export, copper, and has invested considerable amounts of cash into the country's mining industry.

20160521

Scientists have designed flying, insect-sized robots that can perch and launch from ceilings.

The robots use something called electrostatic adhesion, the same process by which statically-charged balloons stick to walls.

Perching allows the robots to conserve energy.

The findings, reported in the journal Science, contribute to a decade-long Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory project called "RoboBee".

contribute to~に貢献[寄与・寄稿・寄附]する文例~の一因となる

ラテン語「共にもたらす」の意 (CON‐+tribuere 「与える」); 

発見がprojectに与える 。発見はprojectに起因する。

The robots in this study are programmed drones, each around the size of a 10 pence coin.

Dr Mirko Kovac, director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory of Imperial College, London, who was not involved in this study, told BBC News that similar robots were currently being trialled in environmental monitoring and disaster-relief efforts.

Dr Kovac, who develops flying robots in his own lab, wrote a paper in the same issue of Science explaining how nature had inspired the design of RoboBee and other robotic perching mechanisms.

Equipped with sensors, swarms of such small, relatively cheap robots, Dr Kovac explained, could alert first responders to the most intense areas of forest fires or other natural disasters.

Moritz Graule, a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead researcher on the project said: "Hovering microrobots run out of energy really quickly." Perching, he said, provides a solution to that problem.

But mechanical perching tools, like birds' claws, are too cumbersome for such small robots. Detaching easily from a surface was another challenge; if perching was the only goal, Mr Graule said, "we could have put a little glue on top of the robot".

To solve these problems, the researchers designed a small, flat "landing patch" with an electrostatic charge that can be switched on and off.

When switched on, the patch acquires a negative charge that makes it stick to nearby, more positively charged surfaces.

You can experience a similar effect by "rubbing a balloon on your hair then sticking it to a wall," explained principal investigator of the Harvard RoboBee project, Dr Robert Wood. And for the dismount, said Dr Wood, "[we] simply remove power to the patch".

What the team is most excited about though are the opportunities that such minuscule component parts promise for other applications. For these robots, "nothing exists off the shelf," said Dr Wood. "We have to reinvent for these systems."

 

That reinvention opens up new frontiers for very tiny devices - from manufacturing to micro-surgery.

20160503

Regulators in China are investigating Baidu over the death of a student who used the search engine to look up cancer treatments.

Wei Zexi, aged 21, a computer science student at Xidian University, died last month of a rare form of cancer.

Shares slumped in the US on news of an investigation, with Baidu's Nasdaq-listed shares falling 7.92%.

Baidu has said on its Weibo account that it had filed a request for the hospital to be investigated.

According to state media, Wei was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in 2014. He had been undergoing a controversial treatment at a hospital which was advertised on the search engine.

The company, often referred to as China's Google, told the BBC: "We deeply regret the death of Wei Zexi and our condolences go out to his family.

"Baidu strives to provide a safe and trustworthy search experience for our users, and have launched an immediate investigation of the matter."

 

China's internet regulator - Cyberspace Administration of China - is teaming up with several other government agencies to look into the matter, including the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, and the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

 

20160403

Perfectly backlit by our star. This is how Comet 67P was pictured this week by the Rosetta spacecraft.

 

star【名】

《天文》〔自ら輝く〕(恒)星、核融合反応によってエネルギーを放出し、重力による収縮の圧力と均衡を保っている、気体からできている天体。惑星(planet)は含まれない。

our star は太陽になる

 

The European Space Agency (Esa) probe was a few hundred km "downstream" of all the vapour and dust being vented from the icy dirt-ball.

Even though the duck-shaped object is heading out of the inner Solar System, it remains classically active.

 

classically observed【形】古くから見られる[観察される]が適訳か

 

Rosetta will continue to study the comet until controllers direct it to make a "landing" in September.

Mission officials will endeavour to make this touchdown a gentle one, to ensure data is returned for as long as possible. But it will bring the whole venture to an end.

Rosetta will likely be damaged by the impact and drop all contact with Earth.

In the meantime, scientists hope to gather as much information as they can about the 4km-wide wanderer.

Current observations are telling them about the workings of the tail of material that is carried away from 67P on the solar wind.

 

working【名】〔物事の〕仕組み、働き、機能

 

This latest image was acquired by Rosetta's navigation camera system. The comet and probe are currently just over 400 million km from the Sun, and receding at 20km per second.

The comet comes through the inner Solar System once every 6.5 years

Since its launch in 2004, Rosetta has travelled 7.7 billion km, passing close by Mars and two asteroids on its way out to meet 67P.

The spacecraft arrived at the comet in August 2014, and dropped the Philae robot on its surface in November of that year.

67P's closest approach to the Sun, just inside the orbit of Mars, occurred on 13 August last year.

As the comet and probe now move back out towards the orbit of Jupiter, the amount of power Rosetta can generate from its solar panels will become increasingly limited.

Esa officials see no point in putting the probe to sleep in the hope it could come back to life when lighting conditions improve on 67P's next visit to the inner Solar System.

 

《not see the point in doing》~しても無意味だ[意味がない]と思う

 

 

A more fitting end for the mission, they believe, is to get some spectacular close-up images in a bump-down landing.

 

2016/03/27

A Czech art group has replaced the flag flying above the presidential palace with a huge pair of red-color underpants in protest against President Milos Zeman.a presidential spokesman attacked the "desecration of state symbols".The red colour of the underpants is an apparent criticism of Mr Zeman's closeness to China.

 

desecration【名】冒とく

Latin de-, prefixal use of de (preposition) from, away from, of, out of

sacred 

 

Czech art group って楽しいことをするなぁ。red が示すすのもwitに満ち溢れていて。

 


 

2016/02/21

Recently, there has also been a focus on dogs that seem to have the extraordinary ability to detect when people with epilepsy are about to have a seizure - even when the person has no idea themselves.

 

epi + lambanein to seizeつかむ、握ることの意を表す。 latch【名詞】(ドア・門などの)掛け金,ラッチ【語源】古期英語「つかまえる」の意、で癲癇の意味になるのか...。繋がらないけどよく出てくる単語だ、なかなか記憶できない単語。鳩の視覚能力を使って乳がんを見つけるとか、ネズミを使って結核の早期発見とか、癲癇発作の予知に犬を使うとか動物にはいまだ解明されない能力があるみたいです。

2016/01/18

US Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington is seriously concerned about increased Chinese militarisation in the contested South China Sea.He was responding to reports Beijing has deployed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the region.China dismissed the reports as "hype", but said it had the right under international law to defend itself.

 

hype 【不可算名詞】 誇大な宣伝、語源は hyper- hyper- + bole throw で ギリシャ語「投げ上げること」の意。China らしい反論であきれる。