The director of a major palm oil company in Indonesia has been found guilty of illegally clearing peat forest in Sumatra and sentenced to 8 months in jail. The director of PT Kallista Alam was also fined 150 million rupiah (about 13,000 US$), with a further 3-month sentence if the fine is not paid. PT Kallista Alam is appealing the verdict. For more, visit http://time2transcend.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/palm-oil-company-director-sentenced-to-jail-for-illegal-forest-clearance-in-indonesia.
Through The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP-UNEP)
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Microbiologists based in California have discovered bacteria that survive by eating pure electrons rather than food, bringing an entirely new method of existence to awareness and raising questions about possibilities for alien life.
The ‘electric bacteria’ – as they have been dubbed by the team that discovered them – take energy from rocks and metal by feasting directly on their electrons. The hair-like filaments the bacteria produce carry electrons between the cells and their environment.
The biologists from the University of Southern California (USC) found that the new discovery joins more than ten other different specific type of bacteria that also feed on electricity – although none in quite the same way.
“This is huge. What it means is that there’s a whole part of the microbial world that we don’t know about,”Kenneth Nealson of USC told New Scientist.
Nealson explained the process by which the bacteria function. “You eat sugars that have excess electrons, and you breathe in oxygen that willingly takes them,” he said. Human cells break down the sugars in order to obtain the electrons – making the bacteria that only absorb the electrons that much more efficient.
“That’s the way we make all our energy and it’s the same for every organism on this planet,” Nealson said. “Electrons must flow in order for energy to be gained.”
Some of the bacteria even have the ability to make ‘bio-cables’ – a kind of microbial collection of wires that can conduct electricity as well as copper – renowned for its high electrical conductivity.
Such ‘nanowires’ were first discovered in a separate study conducted by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark. Their presence raises the possibility that one day bacteria could be used in making subsurface networks for people to use.
“Tens of thousands of bacteria can join to form a cable that can carry electrons over several centimeters,” the New Scientist video on the subject points out.
read more from RT
More than a century after their discovery, we still don’t really know what blood types are for. Do they really matter? Carl Zimmer investigates.
15 July 2014
When my parents informed me that my blood type was A+, I felt a strange sense of pride. If A+ was the top grade in school, then surely A+ was also the most excellent of blood types – a biological mark of distinction.
It didn’t take long for me to recognise just how silly that feeling was and tamp it down. But I didn’t learn much more about what it really meant to have type A+ blood. By the time I was an adult, all I really knew was that if I should end up in a hospital in need of blood, the doctors there would need to make sure they transfused me with a suitable type.
And yet there remained some nagging questions. Why do 40 per cent of Caucasians have type A blood, while only 27 per cent of Asians do? Where do different blood types come from, and what do they do? To get some answers, I went to the experts – to haematologists, geneticists, evolutionary biologists, virologists and nutrition scientists.
In 1900 the Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner first discovered blood types, winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research in 1930. Since then scientists have developed ever more powerful tools for probing the biology of blood types. They’ve found some intriguing clues about them – tracing their deep ancestry, for example, and detecting influences of blood types on our health. And yet I found that in many ways blood types remain strangely mysterious. Scientists have yet to come up with a good explanation for their very existence.
“Isn’t it amazing?” says Ajit Varki, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego. “Almost a hundred years after the Nobel Prize was awarded for this discovery, we still don’t know exactly what they’re for.”
My knowledge that I’m type A comes to me thanks to one of the greatest discoveries in the history of medicine. Because doctors are aware of blood types, they can save lives by transfusing blood into patients. But for most of history, the notion of putting blood from one person into another was a feverish dream.
Renaissance doctors mused about what would happen if they put blood into the veins of their patients. Some thought that it could be a treatment for all manner of ailments, even insanity. Finally, in the 1600s, a few doctors tested out the idea, with disastrous results. A French doctor injected calf’s blood into a madman, who promptly started to sweat and vomit and produce urine the colour of chimney soot. After another transfusion the man died.
Such calamities gave transfusions a bad reputation for 150 years. Even in the 19th century only a few doctors dared try out the procedure. One of them was a British physician named James Blundell. Like other physicians of his day, he watched many of his female patients die from bleeding during childbirth. After the death of one patient in 1817, he found he couldn’t resign himself to the way things were.
“I could not forbear considering, that the patient might very probably have been saved by transfusion,” he later wrote.
Blundell became convinced that the earlier disasters with blood transfusions had come about thanks to one fundamental error: transfusing “the blood of the brute”, as he put it. Doctors shouldn’t transfer blood between species, he concluded, because “the different kinds of blood differ very importantly from each other”.
Human patients should only get human blood, Blundell decided. But no one had ever tried to perform such a transfusion. Blundell set about doing so by designing a system of funnels and syringes and tubes that could channel blood from a donor to an ailing patient. After testing the apparatus out on dogs, Blundell was summoned to the bed of a man who was bleeding to death. “Transfusion alone could give him a chance of life,” he wrote.
Several donors provided Blundell with 14 ounces of blood, which he injected into the man’s arm. After the procedure the patient told Blundell that he felt better – “less fainty” – but two days later he died.
Still, the experience convinced Blundell that blood transfusion would be a huge benefit to mankind, and he continued to pour blood into desperate patients in the following years. All told, he performed ten blood transfusions. Only four patients survived.
While some other doctors experimented with blood transfusion as well, their success rates were also dismal. Various approaches were tried, including attempts in the 1870s to use milk in transfusions (which were, unsurprisingly, fruitless and dangerous).
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Confocal micrograph of a mast cell in human eye with conjunctivitis. This image shows a single mast cell invading conjunctival tissue in response to an inflammatory agent or pathogen. The mast cell contains vesicles of histamine (red dots). Mast cells are among the first cells of the immune system to react to the presence of an invading pathogen and they facilitate the movement of leukocytes (white blood cells) and other immune cells toward the site of infection. The image is composed of 42 stacked sections. Honorable Mention, 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
through The Cell Image Library
To victory!! Anthrax bacteria being swallowed by an immune system cell
Multiple anthrax bacteria, in green, are being enveloped by an immune system cell shown in purple.
Credit: Camenzind G. Robinson, Sarah Guilman and Arthur Friedlander, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Heterochromia iridum passed on from mother to daughter
Heterochromia iridum is a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. It is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin (a pigment) and may be inherited, or caused by genetic mosaicism, chimerism, disease, or injury.
Heterochromia of the eye is of two kinds: In complete heterochromia, one iris is a different color from the other. In partial heterochromia or sectoral heterochromia, part of one iris is a different color from its remainder.
In this photo you can see an impressive example of complete heterochromia!
Stephanie Kwolek, the famous woman inventor and scientist, wanted to study medicine while growing up in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and that desire persisted as she worked toward her B.A. in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University. After finishing her degree, however, Kwolek took a temporary research position with DuPont, where her work turned out to be so interesting that she decided to stay on.
One of the first women research chemists, she first gained national recognition in 1960 for her work with long molecule chains at low temperatures. In 1971, Kwolek’s further analysis culminated in an important discovery of a liquid crystalline polymer solution. Its exceptional strength and stiffness led to the invention of Kevlar®, a synthetic material that is five times as strong as steel.
Kevlar® is resistant to wear, corrosion and flames, and it is the main ingredient in the production of bulletproof vests, which have become invaluable to legions of soldiers and law enforcement officers. Furthermore, Kevlar® is used in dozens of other products, including skis, safety helmets, hiking and camping gear, and suspension bridge cables.
Kwolek’s research efforts have resulted in her being the recipient or co-recipient of 17 U.S. patents. This noted woman inventor also has received such prestigious accolades as the Kilby Award, the National Medal of Technology and the 1999 Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award
New species of mushroom found in commercial packetGABRIELLA MUNOZ
THURSDAY, 10 JULY 2014
DNA sequencing revealed that a store-bought packet of what seemed to be dried porcini mushrooms contained three species with no scientific names.
Turns out your delicious pasta sauce may or may not contain porcini mushrooms!
Two mycologists from the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK, Bryn Dentinger and Laura Martinez-Suz, got unexpected results when they analysed the contents of a commercial packet of dried Chinese porcini mushrooms bought in a store in London. After doing DNA testing of the 15 pieces, they discovered that they belong to three previously unidentified species.
Porcini mushrooms are consumed all over the world. It is estimated that annual worldwide production reaches up to 100,000 metric tonnes. But not all porcini are created equal—and this research reveals that they are much more diverse than we might think.
China, where the packet originated, is one of the main exporters of this ingredient to Europe, but having an effective method of identification when collecting mushrooms in the wild can be difficult.
Dentinger and Martinez-Suz’s diagnostic research aims to stress the importance of correctly identifying the food we eat, which, as they state in their paper, “is essential for regulating global food trade and identifying food frauds”.