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Category : Human Longevity

Ruth Wishart on Kenneth Roy’s diary of living and dying – HeraldScotland

ICS Books, 14.99

Intimations of mortality arrive in different ways, and at different speeds.

Some are a normal function of the ageing process; physical impairment being an irritating sign that whatever the mind is saying, the body is making its own judgements as to likely longevity.

But perhaps the most devastating indication that life is finite comes to those whose illness and swiftly following demise arrives with little prior warning, giving the unexpected patient little time for mental or emotional preparation.

That was the shocking fate which befell the Scottish writer, broadcaster and publisher Kenneth Roy. His diagnosis of a terminal cancer was delivered in October of last year. He was dead little more than a month later. And his last very few weeks were spent in a hospital room, attended by a cast list of NHS personnel with whom he seems to have established a relationship of mutual respect and affection far exceeding the normal staff patient variety.

It was they, and in particular his consultant, who by turns encouraged and chivvied him in his last defiant rage against the dying of the light. It began as a diary; a written account of his daily treatments and failing health, interspersed with memories of his troubled childhood, and myriad subsequent ventures and friendships.

For Roy words were ever the stuff of life, and he wielded them one final time to challenge onrushing death by crafting an astonishing 49,000 words which became posthumously a book, latterly composed with one fingered typing. In Case of Any News: A Diary of Living and Dying was a title he seized upon when one of his two sons indicated it was why he left his phone always on and handy when he heard of his fathers plight.

The book gives no little insight into the life and character of this complex man; a clever child who became a serial truant at his secondary school. He left without much in the way of qualifications when, doubtless to fulfil his fathers injunction to be something, he had always envisaged university as the primary punctuation point to his education.

He writes unsparingly of teachers whom he accuses of sadistic use of the belt due to psychological flaws. Yet he is sufficiently curious and self aware to ponder why his peers were able to survive and prosper in the same environment.

His life became one full of both achievement and contradictions. He wrote widely for a number of publications, always with a trademark iconoclasm. Nevertheless, although a kenspeckle TV face for a period, he seemed happier operating from rural Ayrshire than a high octane newsroom. All of a piece with his unwavering support for a defiantly unfashionable football team, rather than those in more glamorous leagues.

Amid many ventures, some more successful than others, were two which offer a considerable legacy: his Young Programme, which encouraged interaction and debate among younger people UK-wide and The Scottish Review, which he edited until his death and in which, typically, he broke the news about his impending death. A much followed-up scoop, but not one he would have wished to acquire.

But this book is more than just an autobiographical memoir. Rather it is an account all too vivid at times of the many indignities visited upon a person when he or she can no longer exercise proper control of their own bodily functions. (Not the least of the dark humour he intrudes regularly is pondering the prospect of having to die facing two signs marked Toilet.)

There is throughout a strong thread of philosophical inquiry; interrogating his own agnosticism, musing on the random nature of death and disease, examining unfulfilled ambitions. And it is in these passages that Roy's sometimes perplexed reflections will strike the most resonant chords with readers.

For we are all familiar with death in its many guises, and all have personal experience of dealing with it in relation to those close to us. Reading this account of his final weeks reminded me forcibly of my own husbands diagnosis and death, again within a month. Yet he was spared the traumatic events of final weeks spent in an unfamiliar bed, tended to by strangers, or awareness of the end game. A death following a failed surgical process is shattering but not to the patient, mercifully granted no sense of impending doom.

Most people, when they consider their time on this earth, have similar views as to how they would wish to leave it. Very few harbour a wish to die in hospital yet most of us do. What most of us fear is not death per se, but decrepitude and dependency.

A couple of years ago, at a book festival, I was interviewing an eminent Irish doctor. His very firm view was that the process of dying had been wrenched from familial control and subjected to unwarranted medicalisation. He thought striving officiously to keep alive was far from the optimum response when the life in question had been well-run and reached a natural conclusion.

Yet handing back control to the nearest and dearest of the about to depart is not without its own attendant risks. Many relatives actively connive in demanding procedures when they can inevitably only prolong agony whether physical or mental. Many choose to ignore the very specific wish of their loved one that their organs be deployed to alleviate other human distress.

In recent years we have seen heart-wrenching examples of parents who demanded their infant be kept alive, or dispatched to foreign parts for experimental treatment, when the medical team most intimately involved have counselled that further intervention would be both pointless and not in the best interests of the child.

The whose life is it anyway? conundrum is most acutely relevant in the other high-profile cases of recent times when people suffering from desperately debilitating conditions conclude that their life is not worth living, but whose cries of impotent distress are thwarted by politicians or those with a theological axe to grind. I can see no scenario where we should feel proud of forcing people to travel abroad in order to extinguish an impoverished facsimile of life, a mortal coil being shuffled off only to avoid a living death.

Life expectancy has improved for most people, and broadly that is to be welcomed. Yet the bald statistics do not factor in quality of life. There are 80-somethings rejoicing in their ability to still run half marathons. There are others locked in the torment of advancing dementia.

Kenneth Roy bemoaned the fact that he left our world aged 73. Ive never thought of 73 as an age to die, he wrote. Its a score in an Open Championship, respectable enough but on the fringes of contention at best. But arguably its not the time you are allotted so much as what you do with it. Roy may have felt cheated of another decade or so. But he packed an impressive amount into his three score years and three.

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Ruth Wishart on Kenneth Roy's diary of living and dying - HeraldScotland

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This Marketing Agency Wants To Put The Pleasure Back Into The Sex Tech Business – Forbes

Its easy to get excited about the financial opportunities of the sex tech industry. But marketing agency Healthy Pleasure Collective wants to put the pleasure back into the sex tech business. By acknowledging individual sexuality and prioritising customers sexual fulfillment, the agency believes brands can not only advance faster, but have a positive social impact too.

The sexual wellness market accounted for $39 billion in 2017 and has been estimated to be growing at a 30% annual rate. With the industry predicted to be worth $122 billion by 2026 investing in sex tech looks like a good move.

At Healthy Pleasure Collective, fundraising and development are about more than making money. Founded by business and brand architect Dominnique Karetsos and Dr. Maria Fernana Peraza Godoy, a urologist, andrologist and sexual medicine expert, HCP is a full service agency dedicated to sex tech. The team offers consulting, fundraising, branding, product development, digital marketing, communications, press and business development for entrepreneurs in the field of sexual health and wellness technology. HCP seeks to innovate, advance and build sexual health and technology brands while holding onto the key factor motivating all our interactions with them: pleasure.

Dominnique Karetsos is the co-founder of Healthy Pleasure Collective, a full-service agency ... [+] dedicated to sex tech startups

The pursuit of pleasure is inherently human, say the founders. When we leave it out, we not only ignore a crucial part of the user experience, we neglect to recognise a vital part of our humanity. By tapping back into this, they say, products and solutions can thrive in the market while also having a positive impact on sexual health and wellness.

I caught up with Dominnique Karetsos to find out how brands can go about mixing pleasure with business.

Franki Cookney: What prompted you to set up an agency dedicated to sextech startups?

Dominnique Karetsos: I have been an entrepreneur and consumer brand architect for almost 20 years, but eight years ago I was a co-host on BBC Radio London, and it was that experience, combined with becoming a mum of a daughter, that led me to personally and socially understand the intrinsic value of sexuality in living a healthy, fulfilling life.

Dr. Mafe Godoy (we call her Mafe) supported me while I architected sex toy brands, repositioning them as healthy, even after people slammed phones on me and others threw me out of meeting rooms. We joined forces and curated a collective of experts in a space dedicated to this industry.

Dr. Maria Fernana Peraza Godoy, a urologist, andrologist and sexual medicine expert, who co-founded ... [+] the Healthy Pleasure Collective

Cookney: What specific needs does the sex tech industry have when it comes to marketing and brand development?

Karetsos: The one that screams help is language. We need digital marketing channels and platforms, namely Google, Facebook, Apple, and Instagram, to educate, engage with and enhance experiences with our marketing messages. But they chip away at our strategies with ignorant and inflexible algorithms, shadow-banning us and shutting us off. Brands entering in this space who invest in an app run a high risk of being shut down. So the strategy for digital marketing has to be a well thought-out process. It has to be tested, tested and tested again, and the language has to be adapted but not diluted. Brand tones must be authentic but still steer clear of being stereotyped by an algorithm.

Cookney: What specific challenges does the sex tech industry face?

Karetsos: Our industry may be robust in value but we are finite in people. Attracting skills is a tough feat. There is no sex tech chapter at university or college or at school level economics, and there is certainly no 101: How to Market Sex Toys in advertising class. We are seeing a slow but positive upturn but not fast enough to meet the growth at which sex tech start-ups are scaling.

Cookney: What has changed in the way sexual wellness products get marketed?

Karetsos: Before sex tech, we started with adultthe sex toys and movies we bought down a dark alley in a brown paper bag. And anything sexual in daylight was and still is largely polarised as either porn or family planning.

It is fair to say we have migrated from adult to sexual health awareness. We have dating apps for all sexual identities, fertility apps, long-distance vibrating toys, AI dolls being used in mental health treatment. But it is still very apparent that our industry is like an uncomfortable teenager struggling with what to call ourselves, and not knowing if its more socially digestible to say sex tech or sexual wellness.

Cookney: Why is it so important to you to integrate sex tech and sexual wellness with health?

Karetsos: Sex is a health issue. Through sex tech we make room for the importance of sexuality and its inherent value in our lives. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It says that it requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. But to date we have not incorporated sexuality as part of our social understanding of global health.

Cookney: How does this message impact a companys marketing strategy?

Karetsos: In the traditional sense of marketing, knowing who your target audience is to curate your message is vital to your communication strategy. But in sex tech, every human who is of age to associate with a sexual identity is potentially your audience. But they will not all become your customer. Emily Nagoski said it best when she said: There are as many sexualites as there are humans. No one sexuality is the same, so a marketing strategy that throws paint at the wall and hope it sticks will not bring sustainable longevity in brand share.

We must care enough to educate and nurture sexualities, developing the tools that enable people to explore in safe spaces, judgement free. Be it a fertility tracking software or an educational video on how to masturbate, brands should consider who and how to market, and not just provide labels that society insists upon.

Cookney: What have you learnt about the sex tech sector since founding HCP?

Karetsos: The sector is still largely polarised. On one side you type vulva or illustrate a nipple and social channels can close an account in an instant. While in other mediums we trivialise sexwe use it sell everything. But within this polarised market lie pockets of radical innovation. For example, we have an all-out warfare on porn (rightly or wrongly). But most of us watch it at some point so instead let us change the scripts to illustrate consensual, ethical, real life experiences. Cue the rise of female audio porn start-ups.

Sex techs potential to change the biomedical industry, and enhance research in a field as overlooked as female sexual health, is another learning we have had. Its not just about developing devices, but also the development of knowledge from big data that many apps are already collecting. This data will lead to the development of new treatments in female sexual functioning, including diagnostic and therapeutic devices.

Cookney: What challenges do you think the sector faces in the future and how can these be met successfully?

Karetsos: A megawatt spotlight needs to be shone on regulation. We are not a regulated industry so brands have the freedom to promise anything and not be held accountable. Only now ISO regulations are coming into action ensuring that medical grade silicone, used for menstrual cups and toys, are of healthy compliance.

However, despite the challenges, we honestly only see positive change and impact. Maybe it is not as fast or forward moving as we would like but six months ago, sexual wellness was not listed as an independent category in Boots pharmacy or even included in trend emersion beauty reports.

The sex tech industry is responsible for amplifying our beliefs and habits that consensual pleasure is healthy, good and invaluable to our lives as individuals and couples.

The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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This Marketing Agency Wants To Put The Pleasure Back Into The Sex Tech Business - Forbes

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Recent deaths at Dallas Zoo have seemed notable but aren’t out of the ordinary – The Dallas Morning News

Hope, a 23-year-old gorilla, was well short of the 39 years female gorillas in captivity typically live to when she died earlier this month at the Dallas Zoo.

The zoo has yet to announce the cause of death for the mother of Saambili the zoos first baby gorilla in 20 years but says her death and those of a few other notable animals in recent months are isolated incidents and nothing out of the ordinary.

Its accrediting institution echoes the parks statement, saying there is no cause for concern.

Three animals have died this year in unrelated incidents that werent associated with old age a giraffe and an African painted dog, in addition to Hope. The zoo has been upfront about the deaths, posting about each on social media along with a reflection on the animals personality and time at the zoo.

Visitors have noted the recent losses in replies on Facebook and others commended the zoo on its candidness in sharing the information.

In a written statement, the zoo said its openness in the stories it tells has helped the public connect with all aspects of the animals' lives.

"That includes births, key milestones, birthdays, health challenges, and even deaths," the zoo said. "Given that we work with a living collection, life and death is a part of our everyday."

Hope died suddenly Nov. 3 after she and other gorillas in the zoos family troop had experienced mild gastrointestinal symptoms. Tests for parasites and other pathogens were negative, but a necropsy found that her colon was severely inflamed, the zoo said.

The zoo has said the final tests to determine her cause of death are still pending. Other gorillas, including Megan and her son, Mbani Saambilis half-brother are continuing to recover but seem to be past the worst of the illness, the zoo said.

Saambili, who was born in June 2018, was understandably shaken by the loss of her mother, the zoo said. In the days that followed, her father, Subira, stayed near her side and other members of the family troop took turns holding her.

She has also been strengthening her bond with her aunt Shanta, who often carries Saambili around on her back a bright spot in the midst of sadness," according to the zoo.

Gorilla family bonds are strong, and the other family members have stepped in to support and comfort her, the zoo said in a prepared statement.

On the Fourth of July, just weeks after an introduction that zoologists said had gone better than expected, African painted dog Ola was killed by her two packmates.

The zoo described the attack as a "short bout of aggressive behavior" from the two brothers who were behaving naturally and did nothing wrong.

There had been no aggression between the animals who met in a high-stakes introduction a month earlier, the zoo said, adding that it believed the staff could not have prevented the incident.

Her death was another blow for the staff and for zoo guests who had recently learned that the giraffe Witten, named after the Dallas Cowboy, had died June 17 during an exam.

The zoo initially thought the giraffe had stopped breathing at the beginning of a procedure in reaction to a sedative. He was being examined for health issues ahead of a transfer to a Canadian zoo.

A necropsy showed that he thrashed around before the sedative took effect and broke a bone in his neck, which killed him almost instantly, the zoo said.

The zoos internal review of the incident revealed no issues with policies that were in place or veterinary procedures. A recommendation was made to make minor modifications to the device that is used to manage giraffes during veterinary procedures.

The change would not have altered the outcome but could make future procedures more efficient, the zoo said.

Rob Vernon, a spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoos accrediting agency, said this summer that sometimes deaths occur around the same time but that they are not connected or reflected on the care provided at the zoo.

"I can tell you that there's nothing out of the ordinary in any of the deaths that have occurred at the Dallas Zoo," Vernon said. "Death is a reality for any of us caring for living things and it's something that we deal with on a normal basis."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which licenses zoos and other similar exhibitors, identified no "non-compliant items" during its annual inspections of the Dallas Zoo in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The most recent inspection took place June 24, days after the giraffe's death.

No non-compliances were found related to the death of the African painted dog, Ola, either, according to the USDA.

The AZA does not track deaths in U.S. zoos, but Dallas keeps a record of its own.

For the last 10 years worth of data, the zoo said it averages 3.1 deaths a month. Through October, the number of deaths in 2019 has been about 5 percent below that average.

While weve experienced the deaths of several well-known animals among high-profile species, there is nothing out of the ordinary about the number of animal deaths that have occurred at the Dallas Zoo in the previous year, the zoo said in a statement.

AZA zoos are required to contact the association in the event of an accident with an animal or a keeper, which Dallas has done especially in the case of a notable animal death, Vernon said.

If the AZA learns of unusual circumstances at a zoo, he said, it can send in a team to investigate, but whether a zoo loses its accreditation is a case-by-case basis.

In March 2018, the Baton Rouge Zoo lost its 40-year accreditation after inspectors noted three animal escapes in 16 months, outdated facilities and a 2016 incident in which dogs broke into the zoo and killed three monkeys, The Advocate reported.

The incident followed the unexpected deaths of two giraffes and a tiger for which the zoo was cleared of any wrongdoing, according to The Advocate.

The Dallas Zoo's accreditation runs through March 2022. The zoo, which has been an AZA institution since 1985, has been a "stellar member," Vernon said.

Animal-rights groups often object to the keeping of animals in zoos, citing claims of behavioral issues, threats of disease, added stressors and poor facilities.

Both the AZA and Dallas Zoo argue that animals in zoos get a level of care and safety from predators, the weather and other factors that they would not get in the wild. The zoo has also stressed its efforts to provide animals with enrichment.

A 2016 analysis published in the journal Scientific Reports found, based on a variety of factors, that mammals in zoos generally live longer than those in the wild.

There are some exceptions. Species that have a slower pace of life, which is linked to low mortality, and those that have high longevity in the wild may not see their life expectancy lengthened in zoos.

The study also added that carnivores may need husbandry techniques to reduce the behavioral abnormalities that they are more susceptible to in zoos.

But animals with a short life span, high reproductive rate and high mortality in the wild may see the benefits.

The zoo has experienced several notable deaths in recent years: Adhama, a 7-year-old hippo who died suddenly of heart-related complications from a viral infection in October 2018; Kipenzi, the 3-month-old giraffe who died instantly when she broke three vertebrae in her neck in July 2015; Kamau, a popular 6-month-old cheetah cub who died of a respiratory illness in January 2014; and 5-year-old lioness Johari, who was killed by one of the zoos male lions in November 2013.

Those deaths grab more attention than others, perhaps in part because of the non-natural causes or because the animals have been visible for their species at the zoo.

The zoo has also shared a number of age-related deaths on its social-media accounts.

The zoo lost Doyle, a 49-year-old chimp the third-oldest male in the AZA to age-related health issues in June. Male chimps typically live to be 31.4 years old in human care, according to AZAs survival statistics table.

In April, a 29-year-old okapi named Kwanini died, having far outlived the 16.4-year median life expectancy for the species, according to AZA statistics.

Other deaths included Honeydew, the oldest tapir in the AZA, who died of age-related issues in January shortly before turning 38.

Staff writer Tom Steele contributed to this report.

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Recent deaths at Dallas Zoo have seemed notable but aren't out of the ordinary - The Dallas Morning News

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Lewis Hamilton is not only a peerless champion, he is the face of F1 – The Guardian

With a sixth world championship this season, Lewis Hamiltons place in motor racings pantheon is assured. Debate will rage over who may be the greatest of all but Hamilton, the black kid from a Stevenage council estate, surely occupies a position no other has managed. He has transcended the role of driver to perhaps a unique place in the sports history. To a broad global audience, Formula One is Lewis Hamilton.

With five titles from the past six seasons, this is the Hamilton era. He is the pre-eminent driver of his generation and the focal point of F1. A personality that is impossible to ignore and who stands astride the sport like no other.

Hamilton is that rarest of breeds, a sportsman who, it could be argued, is genuinely peerless. He has faced down and beaten the outstanding talents of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. He has unashamedly relished the fight, and neither the longevity of his 13-year career, nor the success, nor the new threat from the young guns of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, has diminished his enthusiasm.

The core of what I do is that I love racing, he said. I love the challenge. I love arriving knowing I have got these incredibly talented youngsters who are trying to beat me and outperform me, outsmart me, and I love that battle I get into every single year.

His performance in securing the title again for Mercedes this season, which draws to a close in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, was as good as any of his previous five. Indeed as of any of his 13 seasons since he entered F1 in 2007. Hamilton has been in a class alone, a driver at the top of his game with an iron-willed resilience, debilitating to his rivals.

David Richards, the chairman of Motorsport UK, first watched an eight-year-old Hamilton race in karts. Richards recognises how far he has come and his place in the bigger picture of F1.

Hamilton is in a class alone, a driver at the top of his game with an iron-willed resilience, debilitating to his rivals

What strikes me now about him now is his maturity, he said. How he recognises he is a role model and the influence he has and the responsibilities that come with it. He is far broader than purely a driver in F1. He has opinions about the environment, young people, fashion and music. That is part of the greater appeal of Lewis today.

Intriguingly during Hamiltons debut season for McLaren in 2007, Jackie Stewart saw exactly this potential. I think Lewis is going to rewrite the book, Stewart said. I believe Lewis will create the benchmark for a whole generation of drivers. Niki Lauda and James Hunt changed the culture of racing drivers, but they werent role models. They said nothing, didnt give a damn. Lewis Hamilton can become a role model.

Hamilton is that benchmark now. In recent years, record after record has fallen to him and only two remain. He is one championship behind Michael Schumachers seven and eight GP wins behind the Germans 91. Both are well within the 34-year-olds reach.

Close, then, to becoming the most successful of all time, last week Hamilton appeared on the Graham Norton show, sharing a sofa with Kylie Minogue, Ricky Gervais and Elizabeth Banks. It was an indication of the position he occupies. There is no other current driver that one might even imagine would be asked to take part.

That such fame has accompanied his achievements is not surprising. Yet his rise to this position has not been simple cause and effect. At its heart has been relentless dominance on track, born of a commitment for which he is not given enough credit, but also there is the way he has gone about his racing and the honesty of a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.

His recent post on Instagram expressing a sense of helplessness in the face of the climate emergency received huge traction and not a little criticism given his chosen sport, which he had to take on board.

There is a lot of push-back on a lot of things I do, and a lot of questioning of everything I do and say, he said. You live your life under a magnifying glass. Were only human, so at some stage youre going to buckle a little bit.

In a sport where technology is king this is the very relatable humanity of the man behind the wheel. Nonetheless it is on the track where he has made his most striking statements.

This season Hamilton won eight of the opening 12 races. Ferraris challenge failed to materialise and his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten back after a spirited opening. Bottas remains his closest rival with four wins but numbers are cold, blunt objects with which to frame Hamiltons artistry.

From a superlative season, outstanding moments come to the fore. Making the bold gamble of taking hard tyres for a one-stop at Silverstone work; coming back to beat Verstappen in Hungary after driver and team errors in Germany. His touch in nursing spent rubber to the flag in Monaco, and the complete control of taking a race he should never have won with a damaged car in Mexico.

Mercedes have largely enjoyed the better car this season but it is not an advantage Hamilton has always enjoyed. Certainly for three championships, that of his first title in 2008 for McLaren and in 2017 and 2018, he was not in the quickest car. Perhaps of more import has been how he has gone about the task. Even between 2008 and his second next title in 2014 he remained compelling. Always striving for more than his machinery could offer and often delivering. He won at least one race in every one of those seasons and is the only F1 driver to have won every year in which he has competed.

In that time there has been no sense Hamilton has been anything but an honourable competitor. The former driver Johnny Herbert astutely identified this as another reason Hamilton has such broad appeal. He is the toughest man and the fairest man on track, Herbert said. He wants to do it in a way where he doesnt get an advantage, he wants a good battle.

For F1 and its owner, Liberty Media, these attributes are a fearsome combination. Hamilton takes the sport to an audience beyond any other driver. His presence on Instagram is unmatched by anyone in F1, with 13.7m followers. In the US, where Liberty is determined to build the sport, he is the star who reaches a mainstream audience.

From this perspective then, Hamilton is intrinsic to F1 as no other. The talent of youngsters such as Verstappen and Leclerc is hugely exciting and promises that on the track the sport is in rude health. But they will take time to even approach matching Hamiltons global reach.

He has one further year on his contract with Mercedes and F1 needs him to stick around. Fortunately as things stand Hamilton appears to have no intention of stepping down but rather, continuing at the top with the same belief that proved remarkably prescient in 2007.

The race is the most exciting part, he said in his debut season. The first corner, the first pit stop. I am just going to get stronger and stronger. Im not yet at my best.

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Lewis Hamilton is not only a peerless champion, he is the face of F1 - The Guardian

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Scott LaFee: Don’t Think Too Hard About This – Noozhawk

By Scott LaFee | November 27, 2019 | 11:55 p.m.

Weve all heard the admonitions about how keeping mentally active boosts overall health and longevity. A new study suggests that busy brains might mean shorter lifespans, and excessive brain activity could be a risk factor for dementia.

Researchers documented the phenomenon across multiple species from humans to mice to roundworms (!) and said it appears people who live longer may have a regulatory gene that more effectively quiets unnecessary nerve activity.

They concede their findings appear counterintuitive and the full story in humans is likely to be much more complicated. So dont stop just yet taking those foreign language lessons, doing Sudoku and reading this column.

Adults have approximately 20,000 pores on their faces.

Of the 195 countries around the world, 119 were found to have an insufficient supply of blood units for health care and emergency use in 2017, according to a new study published in The Lancet Haematology.

Higher income countries were largely able to meet demand, but poor countries were not. South Sudan, for example, had a need 75 times greater than the countrys supply.

Its estimated that 10 to 20 donors can supply enough blood to help 1,000 people.

The 1992 book Sharks Dont Get Cancer spawned a huge increase in shark hunting as people sought shark parts as a treatment for various malignancies.

In fact, sharks do get cancer, and multiple studies have found no evidence that using shark cartilage or other tissues is an effective treatment for any type of cancer.

Cachexia: A complex syndrome associated with an underlying illness, such as cancer or AIDS, that results in ongoing muscle and weight loss that cannot be entirely reversed with dietary supplementation.

Nephophobia: Fear of clouds

The Major League Eating record for poutine is 28 pounds in 10 minutes, held by Joey Chestnut of San Jos.

Poutine is a Canadian dish consisting of French fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy. In Quebec, where it is believed to originate, a plate of poutine is routine cuisine.

A mans health can be judged by which he takes two at a time pills or stairs. Joan Welsh

This week in 1974, Dr. Christiaan Barnard of Cape Town, South Africa, performed the worlds first twin heart operation, implanting a second human heart alongside the old one in a 58-year-old man.

In the procedure, Barnard removed only the diseased portion of the patients heart one-third of the left ventricle. He then joined the left atrium to the atrium of a second donor heart.

The operation was considered less radical than total heart replacement and was conducted without a heart-lung machine. With both hearts beating, the second acted as a booster for the first.

The patient died four months later, however, of unrelated causes.

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like nonlinear dynamics. Sometimes they dont, and yet theyre still hard to figure out.

Heres an actual title of actual published research study: Stimulae Eliciting Sexual Behavior.

In this case, the specific topic was the sexual behavior of turkeys, in which a pair of researchers at Pennsylvania State University in the early 1960s wanted to know just how minimal turkey stimulae might be to still do the job. So they created a mock female bird and progressively removed parts of the model, assessing when a male turkey lost interest.

Finally, they got to just a stick-mounted head and neck, which the male turkey found just as appealing a mate as a whole bird.

Q: What does your spleen do?

A: The spleen is an organ located between the stomach and diaphragm. It makes new white blood cells and cleans old ones out of the body. Its also a place where immune cells congregate. Though these cells are spread throughout the body, they sometimes need to talk with one another, which they do when meeting in the spleen or in lymph nodes.

A person can live without a spleen, but their immune system is substantially impaired. Some people have a second spleen, called an accessory spleen, that is very small but may grow and function when the main spleen is removed.

There are thousands of exercises, and youve only got one body but that doesnt mean you cant try them all:

Its called the Superman, an easy exercise to strengthen back, buttocks, hips and shoulders. Lie prone (face down) on a floor mat, legs extended, arms extended overhead with palms facing each other. Relax head to align with spine.

Exhale, contract abdominal and core muscles and slowly and simultaneously raise both legs and arms a few inches off the floor. Avoid any rotational movement. Maintain head and torso position. Dont arch back or raise head. Hold this position briefly.

Gently inhale, and lower legs and arms to starting positions without any movement in lower back or hips. Repeat.

Q: How many kinds of tonsils are there?

A: Four. The palatine tonsils are the ones seen at the back of the throat. But there are also lingual tonsils (base of the tongue), tubal tonsils (around the opening of the Eustachian tube in the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the cavity behind nose and mouth) and adenoid tonsils (high up in the throat behind the nose).

All together, these tonsils form Waldeyers ring, which serves as a gatekeeper to all things entering the airways and digestive tract, grabbing pathogens and warding off diseases.

I will see you tomorrow, if God wills it. Pope John Paul I (1912-1978).

Apparently, God didnt. Pope John Paul I suffered a heart attack and was found dead in bed with reading material and his bedside lamp still lit. He had been pope for just 33 days.

Scott LaFee is a staff writer at UC San Diego Health and the former chief science writer at The San Diego Union-Tribune, where he covered science, medicine and technology. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Scott LaFee: Don't Think Too Hard About This - Noozhawk

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How do consumer DNA tests from the US and China stack up? – Abacus

Spitting intotheplastic test tube, I felt nervous. I was offering up a piece of myself for decoding, and while this timethere was no silver-haired sage, it reminded me of a visit to a fortune teller when I was 21.

Then, I offeredthepalm of my hand in a bid to divine what fate had planned for me. Now, it wasDNA, with my saliva destined for a laboratory in southwest China, totheheadquarters ofChengdu 23Mofang Biotechnology Co., a startup thats seeking to tap a boom in consumer genetics intheworlds most populous nation.

Rising awareness of genetically-linked diseases like Alzheimers and a natural human curiosity for insight intothefuture is fueling a global market for direct-to-consumerDNAtesting thats predicted totripleoverthenext six years. In China, wherethegovernment has embraced genetics as part of its push to become a scientific superpower,theindustry is expected to see US$405 million in sales by 2022, according to Beijing research firm EO Intelligence, an eight-fold increase from 2018. Some 4 million people will send away test tubes of spit in China this year, and I had just become one ofthem.

Not only was I entering a world where lack of regulation has spawned an entire industry devoted to identifyingthefuture talents of newborn babiesthroughtheir genes, I was handing over my genetic code to a country wherethegovernment has been accused of usingDNAtesting to profile minority groups a concern that hit home whentheresults showed I was a member of one.

I wanted to see whethertheburgeoning industry delivered on its claims in China, where scientists have gained international attention and criticism for pushingtheboundaries of genetics. And as a child of Vietnamese immigrants totheUS, Ive long been curious about my ancestry and genetic makeup.

To get an idea of how this phenomenon is playing out intheworlds two biggest consumer markets, I comparedtheDNAtesting experience of 23Mofang withthefirm CEO Zhou Kun says it was inspired by:23andMe Inc., one ofthebest known consumer genetics outfits intheUS.

PushingtheEnvelope

Thedifferences betweenthetwo companies are stark.

23andMe was co-founded byAnne Wojcicki, a Wall Street biotech analyst once married toGoogleco-founderSergey Brin.TheMountain View, California-based firm has more than 10 million customers and has collected 1 billion genetic data points, according to itswebsite. Brin and Google were early investors.

By contrast, 23Mofang is run out oftheChinese city of Chengdu, and Zhou, 36, is a computer science graduate who createdthecompany after becoming convinced Chinas next boom would be inthelife sciences sector. 23Mofang expects to have 700,000 customers bytheend of this year, a number he projects will at least double in 2020.

Thedivergence betweenthetwo countries andtheir regulation oftheindustry is just as palpable. Chinas race to dominate genetics has seen it push ethical envelopes, with scientistHe Jiankuisparking a global outcry last year by claiming to have editedthegenes of twin baby girls.Theexperiment, which He said madethem immune to HIV, put a spotlight on Chinas laissez-faire approach to regulating genetic science andthebusinesses that have sprung up around it.

When my reports came back, 23Mofangs analysis was much more ambitious than its American peer. Its results gauged how long I will live, diagnosed a high propensity for saggy skin (recommending I use products including Olay and Estee Lauder creams) and gave me an optimist not prone to mood swings a higher-than-average risk of developing bipolar disorder. 23andMe doesnt assess mental illness, which Gil McVean, a geneticist at Oxford University, says is highly influenced by both environmental and genetic factors.

Thefortune teller who pored over my palm told me I would live to be a very old woman. 23Mofang initially said I had a better-than-average chance of living to 95, before revisingtheresults to say 58% of clients hadthesame results as I did, making me not that special, and perhaps not that long-living.

When I ranthefinding pastEric Topol, a geneticist who foundedtheScripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, he laughed. Ninety-five years old?Theres no way to put a number on longevity, he said. Its a gimmick. Its so ridiculous.

Zhou saidtheaccuracy ofthelongevity analysis, based on a 2014 genetics paper, is not too bad, thoughthecompany plans to updatetheanalysis with research thats being undertaken on Chinese elderly.

But when it comes to disease,theresults of both companies showed howthescience of genetics, particularly attheconsumer level, is still a moving target.

Its All AbouttheData

After claiming I had a 48% greater risk thanthegeneral population of developing type 2 diabetes, both 23Mofang and 23andMethen revisedtheresults.

First, 23andMe cuttherisk figure from its analysis, posted in an online portal I accessed with a password.Theoverview analysis that I have an increased likelihood of developingthedisease never changed. But a few months later,thefigure was back, with a slightly different explanation: Based on data from 23andMe research participants, people of European descent with genetics like yourshave an estimated 48% chance of developing type 2 diabetes at some point between your current age and 80.

Shirley Wu, 23andMes director of health product, saidthecompany occasionally updates its analysis. My risk figure might have changed if I indicated my ethnicity and age, she said. I hadnt given any biographical details or filled out any surveys on 23andMes site.

Your risk estimates will likely change over time as science gets better and as we have more data, Wu said. We are layering in different non-genetic risk factors, and that potentially updates our estimates.

Algorithms and data underpintheanalysis of both companies, asthey do for other genetic testing firms, so it apparently isnt unusual forDNAanalysis to shift as more research and data into diseases becomeavailable. Still, I was confused.

I reached out to Topol, who said that 23andMes diabetes finding likely didnt apply to me sincethevast majority of people studied forthedisease are of European descent. Wu saidthe American company does have a predominantly European database but has increased efforts to gather data for other ethnicities as well.

23Mofang, meanwhile, also revised my diabetes risk to 26%. My genes hadnt changed, so why hadtheresults? CEO Zhou saidthecompany is constantly updating its research and datasets, and that may changetheanalysis. As time goes by,there will be fewer corrections and greater accuracy, he said.

For now, theres a possibility you can later get a result thats opposite oftheinitial analysis, said Zhou.

Additionally,theaccuracy of genetic analysis varies hugelydepending onthetraits and conditions tested because some are less genetically linkedthan others.

Zhou isnt deterred by criticism. He said 23Mofang employs big data and artificial intelligence to findthecorrelations to diseases without relying on scientists to figure it out.

While its impossible to get things 100% right,thecompanys accuracy will get better with more data, he said.

Ancestry Mystery

You might assume thatthetwo companies would offer similar analysis of my ancestry, which Ive long thought to be three-fourths Vietnamese and one-fourth Chinese (my paternal grandfather migrated from China as a young man). Born in Vietnam and raised intheUS, I now live in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

23andMes analysis mirrored what I knew, but my ancestry according to 23Mofang? 63% Han Chinese, 22% Dai an ethnic group in southwestern China and 3% Uyghur. (It didnt pick up my Vietnam ancestry becausetheanalysis only compares my genetics to those of other Chinese, according tothecompany.)

That led me tothebig question in this grand experiment: How safe is my data afterthesetests?

Human Rights Watch said in 2017 that Chinese authorities collectedDNAsamples from millions of people in Xinjiang,thepredominately Muslim region thats home totheUyghur ethnic group. Chinas use of mass detention and surveillance intheregion has drawn international condemnation. What if Beijing compelled companies to relinquishdata on all clients with Uyghur ancestry? Couldthedetails of my Uyghur heritage fall into government hands and put me at risk of discrimination or extra scrutiny on visits to China?

23Mofangs response tothese questions didnt give me much solace. Regulations enacted in July gavethegovernment access to data held by genetics companies for national security, public health and social interest reasons.Thecompany respectsthelaw, said Zhou. Ifthelaw permitsthegovernments access tothedata, we will give it, he said.

Theauthorities havent made any requests for customer data yet, Zhou pointed out. Chinas State Council, which issuedtheregulations, andtheMinistry of Science & Technology didnt respond to requests for comment.

Over intheUS, 23andMe said it never shares customer data with law enforcement unlesstheres a legally valid requestsuch as a search warrant or written court order.Thecompany said its had seven government requests for data on 10 individual accounts since 2015 and has not turned over any individual customer data. It uses all legal measures to challenge such requests to protect customers privacy, said spokeswoman Christine Pai.

No Protection

New York Universitybioethics professorArt Caplansays privacy protections on genetic information are poor in most countries, including in the USand China.

I dont think anyone can say theyre going to protect you, he said. In China, its even easier for the government. The government retains the right to look.

23andMe appeals to potential customers with the lure of being able to make more informed decisions about your health, but after taking tests on both sides of the Pacific and realizing how malleable the data can be, as well as the myriad factors that determine diseases and conditions, I am left more skeptical than enlightened.

I gave away something more valuable than a vial of spit the keys to my identity. It could become a powerful tool in understanding disease and developing new medicines, but in the end its entrepreneurs like Zhou who will ultimately decide what to do with my genetic data. He plans to eventually look for commercial uses, like working with pharmaceutical companies to develop medicines for specific diseases.

We want to leverage the big database we are putting together on Chinese people, Zhou said. But first, we need to figure out how to do it ethically.

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How do consumer DNA tests from the US and China stack up? - Abacus

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman: Who Would Win (And Why) – Screen Rant

Frankenstein and The Wolf Man have met on the big screen once before inFrankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), but the fight between the two of them, for the most part, didn't declare a clear winner.

Given the resurrection of Universal's "dark universe", modern audiences will soon see these beloved monsters on the big screen once more. Since they all exist in the same world, it would be very possible to, at some point, explore actual crossovers as has been done in the past with the franchise. With the popularity of crossover films likeFreddy vs. Jasonand ensemble films likeInfinity War, these crossovers could do really well and fans typically possess some sort of interest in exploring which of their favorite characters would best each other in a fight to the death.

Related: Penny Dreadful's John Clare Is The Most Underrated Frankenstein's Monster

Frankenstein vs The Wolf Man has been a popular idea before, most recently being used as a theme maze at the Hollywood Horror Nights and Halloween Horror Nights celebrations at Universal Studios in both Hollywood, California and Orlando, Florida. The concept was executed incredibly, but again, no clear victor was declared. So, in a grudge match between Frankenstein and The Wolf Man, who would win?

Frankenstein was originated in the novel of the same name in 1818 by Mary Shelley. His character was named after his creator, Dr. Victor Frankenstein and was given the title of "Frankenstein's monster". Dr. Frankenstein was an ambitious medical student who was trying to figure out how to reanimate the dead. The doctor's mysterious lab employed a dubious mix of chemistry and alchemy to perform his experiments, so the secret to Frankenstein's birth is unknown, leavinghis general powers and abilities slightly vague. The final ingredientthat brought him to life was when he was struck with lightning during a massive thunderstorm.

His reanimated status allows for him to be hardy and difficult to kill. Longevity wise, Frankenstein isimmortal. He is composed of different human body parts, and it could be argued that, based onhis composition, these parts would be susceptible to physical damage, though would still prove difficult due to his superhuman strength and durability. Frankenstein also possesses an incredible capacity for intelligence, which he demonstrated in the novel when he learned two languages fluently and could read and write at the age of six weeks. The novel also addresses that he's remarkably agile for his size and faster than a normal human, possessing the ability to swim the English Channel. His senses are keener than a human's. Also, while he does have some regenerative ability, it is slower. For example, if he was shot by a gun, he could heal on his own, but it would take weeks without medical attention.

The Wolf Man is based off werewolf tales of old, where a scratch or bite from a wolf can turn a man into a blend of human and wolf that is controlled by the full moon. The original film follows Larry Talbot, who gets bitten during an unexpected attack. Prior to this, Talbot obtained a walking stick with a decorative silver head from an antique shop, and learns about werewolves from his love interest, Gwen. After his attack, Talbot seeks out answers from a gypsy fortune teller when he suspects the folklore may be real, and learns that the wolf who attacked him was, in a fact, a werewolf and the gypsy woman's son.

Related: Silver Bullet Should Be The Next Stephen King Movie

Traditionally, werewolves have the obvious animal instincts associated with wolves: keen senses, speed, the ability to hunt and track, and sharp teeth and claws. Werewolves add to these abilities by bestowing the cursed with beyond average strength and speed, stronger than man and wolf. They are also more resilient than traditional wolves, being able to regenerate quickly from injury so long as they aren't done with silver, as this will injure them greatly and has the potential to kill when done so in a fatal blow. In the original film, he was killed with his walking stick. Since wolves are cursed by the full moon, once they've transformed, they lack the humanity they have the rest of the time, and the animal instincts take over. This is why, typically speaking, those afflicted hate being werewolves because they typically have no memory of what happened while they were a wolf.

The ending ofFrankenstein Meets The Wolf Manwas actually considered to be weak because it didn't declare a victor. A reviewer from The New York Times said that the film was "a great disappointment" since the fight was done sort of as an afterthought and had no conclusion. He also suggested that Universal should consider this mash-up again in the future. Given the statistics on both monsters, The Wolf Man is the winner, but situationally, this fight could go either way. Overall, the werewolf's primary advantage over Frankenstein's monster is that he possesses animal instincts that would aid him and allow him to attack with abandon, where Frankenstein has humanity, reason, and would certainly defend himself against a creature, but might not be as aggressive in the fight.

Also, Frankenstein is composed of human parts, and since he was stitched together, the Wolf Man's teeth and claws could likely shred him with relative ease. Frankenstein could kill the Wolf Man if he had the proper tools for the job, which, given his intelligence, he could obtain and use, but if he was unprepared for the fight, it wouldn't go in his favor.

Next: Who Is The Invisible Man: Origin & Powers Explained

Xavier's Daughter Is Taking Over An Entire Marvel Empire

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Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman: Who Would Win (And Why) - Screen Rant

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Liberty Science Center’s Inaugural Genius of New Jersey to Honor Innovators Who Make the State a World Leader in Cutting-Edge Applied Science -…

JERSEY CITY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New Jersey is home to some of the worlds most accomplished innovators in applied science. Three of them who are pioneering research and solutions in antibacterial therapies, genetics, human life extension, and food production are being honored by Liberty Science Center at its inaugural The Genius of NJ celebration on Monday, December 2.

The celebration starts at 5:30 pm with cocktails and unique technology demonstrations: a full-body 3D scanner from Lenscloud that can scan a person in half a second with 120 cameras and create a realistic 3D avatar; bomb-disposing robots and an autonomous fighting robot from Picatinny Arsenal; and Flyer, a personal aerial vehicle from Kitty Hawk, headquartered in Mountain View, CA.

The New Jersey honorees are Bonnie Bassler, Chair of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, who is developing novel antimicrobial therapies to render pathogenic bacteria harmless; Dr. Robert J. Hariri, Chairman, Founder & CEO of Celularity, Inc. who is pioneering the use of stem cells to cure disease and slow aging; and David Rosenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of AeroFarms, the worlds leader in mass-scale vertical indoor farming.

Our inaugural Genius of NJ Award Winners represent the best this state and the world have to offer in harnessing science for the betterment of humanity, said Liberty Science Center President and CEO Paul Hoffman. Each is using his or her exceptional intellect and creative abilities to disrupt and innovate both in their respective fields and in their commitment to making the world healthier and safer.

Bonnie Bassler is the Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Professor Bassler deciphered the chemical language bacteria cells use to communicate by studying a harmless marine bacterium called Vibrio fischeri, known to bioluminesce, or make light, like fireflies do. She is a winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant and is now developing therapies that disrupt communication among harmful bacteria and strengthen communication among helpful bacteria. At a time when an increasing number of bacteria are resistant to traditional kinds of antibiotics, Dr. Bassler offers a promising new approach to antimicrobial therapy.

The Chairman, Founder and CEO of Celularity, Inc., in Warren, NJ, and Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of Human Longevity, Inc., Dr. Robert Hariri is the quintessential renaissance man. Hes a neurosurgeon, a medical researcher, and a serial entrepreneur in two technology sectors: aerospace and biomedicine. Dr. Hariri has advised the Vatican on genetics, and in 2018, Pope Francis bestowed on him the Pontifical Key Award for Innovation. Dr. Hariris path to discovering that the placenta, a temporary organ discarded after birth, was a potent source of stem cells began in the 80s when he viewed a first trimester ultrasound of his oldest daughter and wondered why the placenta was so large. Today Dr. Hariri is working to use placental stem cells to cure disease, slow aging, and augment healthy human lifespan.

Prominent entrepreneur David Rosenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of AeroFarms, set out to reinvent one of the most basic aspects of food production, farming. AeroFarms has grown 800 species of plants indoors and can grow them 365 days a year without sun or soil, achieving yields 130 times greater than conventional farming. His system uses 95 percent less water than field farming and no pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Rosenbergs adoption of cutting-edge technology has been a cornerstone of AeroFarms, which set up its first indoor vertical farms in abandoned warehouses in Newark. He employs plant biologists, microbiologists, geneticists, systems engineers, and data scientists. AeroFarms innovations in indoor vertical farming have improved not just plant yields but also taste, texture, nutritional density, and shelf life.

Additionally, LSC will honor non-New Jersian Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Kitty Hawk, a company spun off from a Google moonshot effort to free the world from traffic. Kitty Hawk is developing all-electric, vertical take-off flying machines for everyday use. Known as the godfather of self-driving cars, as a Stanford professor in 2005, Thrun led a team that won the $2-million Defense Department Grand Challenge to build an autonomous vehicle which drove itself unassisted on a 132-mile course across the Mojave Desert. His winning entry, Stanley, is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. While at Stanford, in 2011 he and colleague Peter Norvig offered their Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course online to anyone, for free. Over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled! The MOOC (which stands for Massive Open Online Course) was born, and Thrun founded the online education company Udacity, with the goal of democratizing education. Thrun relinquished his tenured Stanford professorship to join Google and founded the companys semi-secret R&D division called Google X (now called simply X) to develop breakthrough technologies, such as self-driving cars, that make the world a radically better place.

Ticket prices for The Genius of NJ start at $750 per guest with options for table sponsorship from $12,500 to $50,000. For more details, please visit The Genius of NJ online. All proceeds from this event will support LSCs mission to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

About Liberty Science Center

Liberty Science Center (LSC.org) is a 300,000-square-foot nonprofit learning center located in Liberty State Park on the Jersey City bank of the Hudson near the Statue of Liberty. Dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers and bringing the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology to learners of all ages, Liberty Science Center houses the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection with 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, live simulcast surgeries, a tornado-force wind simulator, K-12 classrooms and labs, and teacher-development programs. More than 250,000 students visit the Science Center each year, and tens of thousands more participate in the Centers off-site and online programs. Welcoming more than 750,000 visitors annually, LSC is the largest interactive science center in the NYC-NJ metropolitan area.

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Liberty Science Center's Inaugural Genius of New Jersey to Honor Innovators Who Make the State a World Leader in Cutting-Edge Applied Science -...

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Rich People Have Access to Better Microbes Than Poor People, Researchers Say – VICE UK

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Our bodies are home to an abundance of tiny organisms, collectively called the microbiome, which are essential to human health and longevity. But not all microbiomes are equal, according to an essay published on Tuesday in PLOS Biology that spotlights how access to healthy microbes is profoundly interlinked with social and economic inequities.

A team led by Suzanne Ishaq, an assistant professor at the University of Maine and an expert in animal microbiomes, outlines examples of the human microbiomes sensitivity to discrepancies in healthcare, nutrition, and safe environmental standards. This microbial inequality, as the essay calls it, raises the question of whether a healthy microbiome should be a right or a legal obligation for governments to pursue on behalf of people.

The diet that you eat and your lifestyle can have dramatic impacts on the gut microbes that you recruit and the benefits or the negatives that you derive from them, said Ishaq in a call. If you dont even have access to a good quality diet, you might be suffering the effects of not having those beneficial microbes and products in ways you might not have imagined.

Gaps in microbial health can emerge before a person is even born, because some of the most important microbes are fostered in utero. The fetal microbiome is influenced by the mothers access to healthy foods as well as her stress levels, which can be amplified by economic inequities. The availability of maternity leave or social support also affects the amount of time that new mothers can devote to breastfeeding their babies, which is another critical factor in the establishment of a healthy microbiome.

These microbial patterns play out over our entire lifetimes. Populations with access to quality nutrition will have better physical and mental health outcomes than those that do not, and that is reflected on a gut microbial level. The environmental quality of the buildings where we live and work also influence what lifeforms are inside us, as does our general proximity to greenspace, on the positive side, or polluting industrial and agricultural facilities, on the negative end.

Ishaq had been ruminating about these connections in her research for years, and decided to teach a special course on the subject at the University of Oregon over the summer. Fifteen undergraduate students with a wide variety of majors participated in the class, and are now co-authors on the new paper. Because the majority of the class were not science majors, the essay has an interdisciplinary approach that concludes with legal and political implications of microbial inequality, in addition to the medical dimensions.

They were actually much more familiar with the social policies than I was, given their background, which was really cool, Ishaq said of her students.

One of the questions the team explored is whether a healthy microbiome can be considered a human right or a legal obligation. One 2011 paper touched on this issue through the lens of biobanking, or archiving of human tissue, but there has never been a major legal case that establishes who owns an individuals microbiome, or if people are legally entitled to a healthy microbiome.

From the perspective of Ishaq and her colleagues, the dynamic nature of the microbiome suggests that legal arguments should emphasize access to healthy microbes, rather than ownership over ones microbiome.

Youre picking up and putting off hundreds of thousands of microbial cells every day so to think that whats in your gut is completely yours is probably the wrong way to think about it, Ishaq explained. They are more like passengers than things that you own.

In other words, healthy microbes could potentially be categorized as an essential resource or common good, like clean water, safe environments, and quality public health. Ishaq hopes the essay will encourage researchers across disciplines to think about the human microbiome as both a metric of social inequities, and a roadmap to more effectively bridge those divides.

It tends to be people that werent even involved with polluting water or growing too much food or pouring chemicals everywhere that end up being the ones that have to deal with these microbial-related problems, she said.

Addressing this problem will require restructuring our societies on the largest scales, in order to ensure that the small-scale lifeforms inside us can thrive, so that we can too.

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Rich People Have Access to Better Microbes Than Poor People, Researchers Say - VICE UK

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Wherever The Human Heart Beats @ Alma Tavern – Epigram

By Imogen Howse, Deputy Arts Editor

Wherever The Human Heart Beats is a whirlwind of melancholy, nostalgia and passion. Surprisingly poignant in its final scenes, its an impressive production that will touch anyone who has experienced, or is experiencing, a transitional phase of life.

The play follows protagonists Nina, Kate and Ben through their uncertain transition into adulthood and the choices which define both the trajectories of their lives and the longevity of their friendship. Through a series of flashbacks, memories and alternate realities, we follow this tight-knit trio through first crushes, university choices, coming-out, dead-ends jobs and more, gaining an in-depth insight into their complex but loving dynamic. The subsequent dissolution of their relationship is as a result all the more painful, since we as an audience are so acutely aware of what could have been.

It is a production undoubtedly made with a lot of love

The nuance of Emma Rogersons writing shines through in her lyrical verse, giving the production a musicality of sorts. This is furthered both by the fitting choice of contemporary music as well as the dance-like movements of the cast. Although at times a little distracting it perhaps could have been utilised more sparingly the choreography still cleverly and effectively adds to the impact of the plays most pivotal moments.

|Lit Live @ Alma Tavern

Alma Taverns intimate setting is used beautifully by the set design team. A sense of familiarity is created through the use of fairy lights, posters, and most significantly, the gradual unveiling of the map of the trios hometown: the involvement from the cast in both the creation and dismantling of the set contributes to the immersive nature of the production.

The chemistry between the three leads played by Holly Cattle, Alice Buchanan and Charlie Wright is palpable throughout the performance. Charlie Wright successfully conveys the angst and frustration of cynical Ben, while Alice Buchanan captures the audiences hearts with her charming and endearing portrayal of Kate. Holly Cattle shines as Nina in the plays final moments, when the inevitability of the trios separation becomes all too clear and the story culminates in a deeply affecting way.

At times, the play does feel a little rushed. A more gradual beginning may have lent itself to an even more climactic ending, while some variations in the productions pacing may have placed greater emphasis on the storys most crucial moments. However, on opening night, a more rushed performance can often be expected and so this may well be something that settles across the next few showings.

Nevertheless, what becomes abundantly clear throughout the production is that it is one undoubtedly made with a lot of love: from the handwritten programme on entry to the offerings of jammy dodgers on exit, its a unique, homely and moving viewing experience.

Ultimately, Wherever The Human Heart Beats is a play of immense emotional depth which hits home powerfully and bitter-sweetly. Its an impressive feat and a wonderful testament to the talent and dedication of both cast and crew.

Featured image credit: Wherever The Human Heart Beats production team

Did you see Wherever The Human Heart Beats? We'd love to hear what you thought of it!

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Wherever The Human Heart Beats @ Alma Tavern - Epigram

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson


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