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Submission + - Cells can choose burning fat over burning glucose when sick (economist.com)

Beeftopia writes: A recent paper published in the journal Cell finds cells can preferentially choose burning either fat or glucose depending on the nature of the infection (viral or bacterial). This seems to have implications for obesity research, if cells can be chemically prodded into preferentially burning fat.

The saying, "Feed a cold, starve a fever" was somewhat borne out by this study. The article states, "mice with bacterial infections that were fed glucose died. But infected mice fed a version of glucose that they could not metabolise lived. Again, those results were nearly reversed in mice suffering from a viral infection... [In bacterial infection] burning fat protected infected mice... Most animals instinctively respond to infection by cutting back on food."

Submission + - A new predator emerges in North America (economist.com)

Beeftopia writes: Mating between species usually creates offspring less vigorous than either parent, if they survive at all. But the combination of wolf, coyote and dog DNA has created an exception, resulting in an extraordinarily fit new animal. The typical DNA of the new creature is on average 10% dog, 25% wolf and 65% coyote. Coyotes dislike hunting in forests. Wolves prefer it. This animal is adept at catching prey in both environments. Its cry is also a combination of coyote and wolf. The first part of the howl resembles a wolf's deeper pitch, ending in the yipping of the coyote. Interbreeding has also allowed the creature to feel more comfortable around humans, and allowing them to process a broader diet. They eat pumpkins, watermelons and other produce as well as squirrels and pets. Cats are eaten, skull and all, with clues left only in the droppings.

Submission + - Are autonomous cars the new fusion?

Beeftopia writes: The joke about fusion is that it's just 20 years away and always will be. The promise of self-driving cars increasingly appears that they are five years away and always will be.

In 2011, Google suggested its self driving cars would be five years away. In 2014, Google's autonomous car project manager, Chris Urmson, said its autonomous cars would be available by the end of the decade. However, last week at SXSW, Urmson said it could take as long as 30 years for truly autonomous cars to appear.

Urmson said, "How quickly can we get this into people's hands? If you read the papers, you see maybe it's three years, maybe it's thirty years. And I am here to tell you that honestly, it's a bit of both."

Submission + - Study: Mice gain weight in cold temperatures due to gut changes (economist.com)

Beeftopia writes: From The Economist: Mice were separated into two groups, one temperature maintained at 6C, the other at 22C. Researchers expected the cold mice to lose weight as they burned stored fat to stay warm. And for the first few days they did. But after five to ten days, in spite of their rations not increasing, the cold mice begain to put on weight.

When scientists examined the gut microbiome of the previously identical mice, they found they were radically different. Additionally, the intestine had grown villi 50% larger than those of the warm temperature mice.

Finally, after transplanting the gut microflora into a new batch of aseptic mice kept at warm temperatures, those mice showed the increased insulin sensitivity, cold tolerance, and villi length of the cold mice.

Submission + - Woman suffers significant weight gain after fecal transplant (foxnews.com)

Beeftopia writes: In a case reported in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases, a woman suffering from a drug-resistant intestinal infection gained 36 pounds after receiving a fecal transplant from her overweight daughter. Previous mouse studies have shown thin mice gain weight after ingesting fecal bacteria from obese mice. The woman previously was not overweight. After the procedure, despite a medically supervised liquid protein diet and exercise regimen, the woman remained obese. Her doctor said, "She came back about a year later and complained of tremendous weight gain... She felt like a switch flipped in her body, to this day she continues to have problems... as a result I'm very careful with all our donors don't use obese people."

Submission + - Researchers Find The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist (businessweek.com)

Beeftopia writes: From the article: "For a real-life example of an actual worker shortage, Salzman points to the case of petroleum engineers, where the supply of workers has failed to keep up with the growth in oil exploration. The result, says Salzman, was just what economists would have predicted: Employers started offering more money, more people started becoming petroleum engineers, and the shortage was solved. In contrast, Salzman concluded in a paper released last year by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, real IT wages are about the same as they were in 1999. Further, he and his co-authors found, only half of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college graduates each year get hired into STEM jobs. “We don’t dispute the fact at all that Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) would like to have more, cheaper workers,” says Salzman’s co-author Daniel Kuehn, now a research associate at the Urban Institute. “But that doesn’t constitute a shortage.”

Submission + - Researcher proposes "multicompiler" to prevent instruction-level exploits (economist.com)

Beeftopia writes: A researcher proposes the concept of a "multicompiler" to generate a unique, slightly different set of binary instructions in each compiled output file in order to disable instruction-level attacks. From the article: "Dr Franz has already built a prototype that can diversify programs such as Firefox and Apache Linux. Test attacks designed to take over computers running the resulting machine code always failed. The worst thing that happened was that the attack crashed the target machine, requiring a reboot. The rest of the time it simply had no perceptible effect. Dr Franz puts the chance of a hacker successfully penetrating one of his randomised application programs at about one in a billion."

Submission + - 200 million social security numbers possibly stolen in Experian breach (mercurynews.com)

Beeftopia writes: A 2012 breach at credit reporting company Experian may be much larger than first reported. The article states, "In what could be one of the biggest data breaches in history, the federal government and authorities in several states are investigating the criminal sale of Social Security numbers, bank account data and other personal information for up to 200 million U.S. citizens."

The investigations stem from the 2012 case of Hieu Minh Ngo, who sold names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, places of work, duration of work, dates of employment, state driver's license numbers, mother's maiden names, bank account numbers, bank routing numbers, email account names and addresses and other account passwords, court records show.

Submission + - Traumatically injured patients to be put in suspended animation (newscientist.com)

Beeftopia writes: A new procedure will be tested on traumatically injured patients by doctors at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. The patient's blood will be replaced with cold saline solution, dropping body temperature to 10 C. Brain activity and respiration will cease, indicating the patient is clinically dead. Surgeons will repair the damage then slowly refill them with warm blood at which point vital signs will reappear.

"Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag. It's frustrating to know there's a solution," says surgeon Peter Rhee. "[After our animal experiments] the definition of 'dead' changed," he said.

Submission + - IBM's Watson to be used for cancer treatment (arstechnica.com)

Beeftopia writes: The New York Genome Center and IBM will investigate whether Watson can be used to parse cancer genome data and then recommend treatments. The trial involves 20 to 25 glioblastoma patients with poor prognoses. The article states, "It should theoretically be possible to analyze [genomic] data and use it to customize a treatment that targets the specific mutations present in tumor cells. But right now, doing so requires a squad of highly trained geneticists, genomics experts, and clinicians. It's a situation that can't scale to handle the [number of] patients with glioblastoma, much less other cancers. Instead, that gusher of information is going to be pointed at Watson... Watson will figure out which mutations are distinct to the tumor, what protein networks they effect, and which drugs target proteins that are part of those networks. The net result will be a picture of the biochemical landscape inside the tumor cells, along with some suggestions on how clinicians might consider intervening to change the landscape.

Submission + - Gut bacteria in slim people extract more nutrients (bbc.co.uk)

Beeftopia writes: Researchers discovered that inserting gut bacteria from obese people into mice without gut bacteria led to the mice becoming obese. Gut bacteria from slim people inserted into the same mice did not lead to mouse obesity. The researchers concluded that gut bacteria from the slim people were more efficient at extracting nutrients from food than those of the obese.

Submission + - Major Automaker Sets Delivery Date For Autonomous Car (usatoday.com)

Beeftopia writes: Nissan has set 2020 as the anticipated delivery date of its first autonomous car. It becomes the first major automaker to set a delivery date. Nissan states that "it is working with major universities including MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Tokyo on the technology. Work also is underway on a special-purpose test track in Japan that Nissan says features "real townscapes."

Submission + - Paper: Evolution favors cooperation over selfishness (bbc.co.uk)

Beeftopia writes: Conventional wisdom has suggested selfishness is most beneficial evolutionary strategy for humans, while cooperation is suboptimal. This dovetailed with a political undercurrent dating back more than a century, starting with social Darwinism and more commonly seen today as a Randian philosophy. A new paper in the journal Nature Communications casts doubt on this school of thought. The paper shows that while selfishness is optimal in the short term, it fails in the long term. Cooperation is seen as the most effective long term human evolutionary strategy.

Submission + - Patent trolls finally bite the wrong organization (realtor.org)

Beeftopia writes: Patent trolls have long been a thorn in the side of the tech industry. No serious effort has taken place in Washington DC to rein them in. Until now. It seems that a patent troll has decided to lock horns with the 5th largest all time contributor to federal politicians, the National Association of Realtors. It is this unfortunate choice of target that has encouraged federal politicians to act. From the article:

Several lawmakers have introduced legislation to curb patent abuses, and President Obama has also moved on the administrative front, but comprehensive legislation is really what’s required to curb the practice. And that’s what NAR is calling for in the letter with its partners.


Submission + - Puzzling disconnect between greenhouse gas emissions and surface temperature (economist.com)

Beeftopia writes: From The Economist magazine: A puzzling disconnect between carbon emissions and surface air temperatures has become apparent. Over the past 15 years, surface air temperatures have been flat while greenhouse gas emissions have continued soaring. While temperatures fluctuate over short periods, this lack of warming is a surprise. The mismatch between greenhouse gas emissions and non-rising temperatures is among the biggest current puzzles in climate science. If temperatures remain flat, they will fall outside of the predicted temperature models in a few years.

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