Recent Posts

  • Road Test 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SE

    first_imgSource: Electric, Hybrid, Clean Diesel & High-MPG Vehicles A VW Golf That Can Handle Light Off-RoadingAmericans love crossover sport-utility vehicles, which had been a bit a problem for Volkswagen. While most full-line automakers had several crossover SUVs to choose from, VW had just two; the small Tiguan and the larger, now discontinued, Touareg. To plug the gap until the three-row Atlas arrived, the German automaker came up with the Golf Alltrack for the 2017 model year.And just what is the Golf Alltrack? In a nutshell, the Alltrack is a made-over Golf SportWagen that has been slightly lifted, butched up with some body cladding, and includes VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system along with more standard content.A sedan in off-road clothingSound familiar? That’s pretty much what Subaru did with the then Legacy wagon in 1994, morphing it into the Subaru Outback and calling it a “sport-utility wagon.” They haven’t looked back since.The 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack has been redesigned, mainly focused on lighting elements. All models get LED taillights, and the top-level SEL gets LED running and headlights. Otherwise, the Alltrack’s design is the same as the debut model.It’s unlikely that the Golf Alltrack will come close to matching the Outback’s sales numbers, but Volkswagen has high hopes that it can lure some customers from Subaru. To accomplish that, the Golf Alltrack is offered in three trim levels—S, SE and SEL. Each is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine capable of making 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 199 pounds-feet of torque coming on at just 1,600 rpm. Standard is a six-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission offered as an option for $1,100.Fuel economy isn’t exactly a glowing star with the EPA saying you’ll get 30-mpg on the highway/22 city/25 combined. That 30-mpg highway, however, does earn the Golf Alltrack entry into Clean Fleet Report’s 30-mpg All-Wheel Drive Club. By comparison, the Alltrack can’t quite match the Subaru Outback’s 32-mpg highway.Model LineupThe least expensive Alltrack S, $25,995 plus $850 destination charge, with a six-speed manual transmission, has an arm’s length of standard features. They include 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels; faux-leather upholstery; heated front seats, side mirrors and windshield-washer nozzles; eight-way power driver’s seat; rearview camera and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with AM/FM/CD player/HD Radio/USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The standard Car-Net system works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone apps.A step up to either the mid-level SE ($29,765) or the SEL ($35,660) models get a new, larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with flush-mounted hard buttons on either side. The display is quick to respond to inputs and uses a proximity function to hide many of the controls until it detects a hand approaching. A Driver Assistance package bundles forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and park-distance.Looks A Lot Like the SportsWagenA side-by-side comparison of the 2018 Golf Alltrack with the 2018 SportsWagen revels that the exterior changes do give the Alltrack a tougher look. Up front, the Alltrack gets a matte black mesh grille, a different bumper with an underbody guard and standard LED daytime running lights. Black cladding has been added along the wider door sills and wheel arches, protecting the body from stray rocks and other projectiles kicked up along the dusty trail. Even the wheels exude a rugged yet sporty appearance. The rear of the Alltrack is now treated with LED taillights, a revised bumper and dual exhaust outlets. Ground clearance is also greater than the SportsWagen, growing from 5.5 inches to 6.9 inches.Look up and you’ll notice standard silver roof rails. VW offers an array of roof-mounted “attachment kits” for the Alltrack that will help outdoor enthusiasts haul bicycles, skis, snowboards and even a kayak.Bumping up the tech insideOn the inside, the Alltrack nearly mimics the SportWagen, but distinguishes itself from its sibling with aluminum-look pedals and kickplates with exclusive Alltrack branding. Like most Volkswagens, the cabin is sensibly designed and ergonomically friendly with a clean and uncluttered dashboard. The gauge cluster is simple and easy to read, with two main dials for ground and engine speed and two smaller gauges for engine temp and fuel level. Controls for climate and audio are easy to see and use.Like all Volkswagen Golf models, the Alltrack’s front seats are supportive and there’s an adjustable center armrest that does double-duty as a console lid. The glove box even has a cooling feature. Space in the front seats is just fine, but the rear seats are a little tight in shoulder and headroom. Legroom of 35.6-inches, however, is adequate for those over six-foot.Although Americans tend to dismiss station wagons, we can all appreciate their versatility for carrying stuff. The 2018 Alltrack boasts more than 30 cubic feet of room with the rear seats up, and 66.5 with them folded. That’s more than some small crossover SUVs. The rear hatch opens nice and high, but you won’t find a power-operated option as you will on many small SUVs.Driving the Golf AlltrackWithout a raised seating position or a tall roof, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack feels not even a little like a crossover SUV. The lift amounts to just 1.4 inches, and most of that comes from taller wheels and tires, though VW says the Alltrack does have longer springs and dampers.More important is the upgraded powertrain. Volkswagen knows how to wring every last ounce of pleasure from a turbocharged engine. As for the Alltrack, VW married the base Golf’s turbo four with the Golf R’s driveline. That means the dual-clutch automatic transmission has an electronically controlled clutch that manages the front-to-rear torque split. The computer can apply the brakes individually to direct torque to the left- or right-side wheels on either axle.The turbo engine does not disappoint on or off-roadVW’s 4Motion four-wheel-drive system powers the front wheels, saving fuel, until a loss of traction is detected, after which it can send 50 percent of the power rearward. Driving modes include normal, sport, custom and off-road. Manual gear selection can be made through paddle shifters on the steering wheel or manipulating the shift lever in the center console.Around town, the suspension tuning favored comfort, giving me a silken ride quality. The car glided over bumps in the road and soaked up harshness like a mechanical sponge. It was compact enough to slot into urban parking lots, comfortable and spacious enough to carry three friends and their gear to the airport.The engine itself was free-revving, low on noise, and got the Alltrack up to speed swiftly enough that I didn’t find myself wanting it to pick up the pace.  The invigorating engine easily pushed the Alltrack and happily drank regular unleaded while doing so.On the highway, the suspension competently ironed out pothole-ridden stretches and offered a comfortable cruise on smooth portions. Refinement was typical Volkswagen—civilized. There were low levels of wind noise, though on some surfaces road rumble made its way into the cabin. On occasion, I picked up the under-hood signature of the turbo as it spooled up.The 2018 Vollkswagen Golf Alltrack was fun to throw into corners, and its steering firmed up nicely after initial softness at lower speeds. While body roll did make its presence known, a combination of light and precise steering, beefy brakes and a taut chassis gave me a sense of confidence.I didn’t test our Allroad SE on terribly rugged off-road terrain, but I did find the sort of rutted, muddy, slippery and generally boggy trails that can give two-wheel drive cars, as well as some all-wheel drive vehicles, a headache. On slick surfaces that varied from loose gravel to sloppy mud washes, the 4Motion system kept up with conditions, giving the Alltrack a secure feel. Using the Off Road setting, the AWD system aptly put power to the wheel where it was needed, and the built-in hill-descent control helped ease the car down steeper grades.When I handed the Golf Alltrack back to Volkswagen, the odometer showed we had driven 213 miles, including city, highway and freeway driving plus our off-road excursion. As for fuel economy, we were spot on with the EPA’s 24 mpg combined rating.In the MarketplaceOur test 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, the SE with manual, wore a sticker price of $30,615 including the $820 destination charge. That’s comparable to its direct competition, a Subaru Outback that is well-equipped and also powered by a four-cylinder engine.Ready to challenge SubaruUnlike the Outback, the Alltrack offers a manual transmission and comes standard with a turbocharged engine. However, the slightly larger Outback offers more ground clearance for improved off-road capability, has more interior space and earns better fuel economy. The Outback also offers an optional stout six-cylinder engine.The 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is worth a long hard look if you’re shopping for a small utility vehicle that is fun to drive and has some off-road moxie on backcountry roads. However, the Subaru Outback is tough to beat. Plus, these two aren’t the only carmakers betting on this formula. Volvo’s V60 comes in Cross Country flavor, while Audi thinks that the A4 Allroad will whet your appetite. If none of these are your cup of tea, the more traditional crossovers such as Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4 may best meet your needs.Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Other Light Off-roadersTop 9 All-Wheel-Drive Wagons with the Best MPGNews: 2019 Volvo V60Road Test: 2018 Subaru OutbackRoad Test: 2018 Honda CR-VRoad Test: 2018 Toyota RAV4Disclosure:Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.The post Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SE appeared first on Clean Fleet Report.last_img read more

  • Engineering Explained Buys Tesla Model 3 Mid Range

    first_img WSJ Offers Up World’s First Review Of Tesla Model 3 Performance Jason has spent some detailed time trying to decide which EV is best for him. Now, after all his painstaking research, he knew full well that being an electric car owner was something that he looked forward to. Moreover, the fact that his extensive homework steered him toward a Tesla Model 3 is compelling. Of course, we share a plethora of YouTube videos to give our readers a wealth of perspectives. Young, old, rich, poor, highly educated, average Joe, professional, amateur … and the list wears on and on.People come from a variety of different backgrounds, thus we realize the importance of each of our shares. But, to be able to share the reality that a hugely respected YouTuber has moved forward with the purchase of a Tesla is solid gold as far as InsideEVs is concerned.Anyhow, let’s give Engineering Explained some much-deserved Kudos and a pat on the back for its successes. In addition, enjoy checking out Jason’s newest video share.Video Description via Engineering Explained on YouTube:I Bought A Tesla Model 3 – Celebrating 2 Million Subscribers!Tesla Model 3 Detailed Review & Test Drive – I Bought An Electric Car!The Tesla Model 3 Mid-Range has 260 miles of range on a full charge, powered by an electric motor at the rear wheels, good for 0-60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds. I bought the mid-range in multi-coat red with 19″ wheels. The Model 3 now comes standard with the premium interior, including 12-way adjustable heated front seats, premium audio, and a tinted glass roof.The Tesla Model 3 is currently available in three configurations, mid-range RWD, long-range AWD, and performance AWD. Each version is quicker, and the long range models have 310 miles of range. The Tesla Model 3 Performance is capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.3 seconds! Check out the video for my full impressions on the Model 3 mid-range, my new ride!TESLA MODEL 3 Tesla Model 3 Mid Range Highway Range Rating Is Actually 251 Miles The fact that Engineering Explained bought a Tesla Model 3 is a really huge deal.This video really speaks for itself. If you follow the electric vehicle movement, you are well aware of the “all-in” factor regarding Engineering Explained. In fact, after a slow start, the channel has finally been able to hit an amazing milestone of two million subscribers. However, it’s interesting to know that the site’s primary personality — mechanical engineer Jason Feske — has yet to own an EV. Nonetheless, he’s been researching and debating for some time. Excitedly, he recently took the plunge and bought a Tesla Model 3.More Tesla Model 3 News: Source: Electric Vehicle Newscenter_img 28 photos Engineering Explained Busts Myths: EVs Not Worse For Environment Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 10, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

  • Porsche Close To Naming First Formula E Signing For 201920

    first_imgPorsche is set to announce the first driver for its entry into the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in 2019/20 within the next 10 days. The German manufacturer’s vice-president of motorsport, Fritz Enzinger, stated on stage at its end-of-season prize-giving ceremony on Saturday that the first driver had been signed for the sixth season of FE.More Formula E News Formula E Battle Scars: Video Audi Says BMW Is Formula E Pre-Season Favorite He wouldn’t confirm that when questioned by Motorsport.com at the event within Porsche’s research and development facility in Weissach, only stating that the unnamed driver would be confirmed within “a week to 10 days”.Enzinger reiterated Porsche’s position that it was looking to fill the two seats in its season-six line-up from within the pool of existing FE drivers and its own roster of factory drivers.“We need drivers with experience, but we would also like to have drivers from within the Porsche family,” he told Motorsport.com.Former Porsche LMP1 driver Neel Jani, winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship title in 2016, has emerged as a likely candidate for a FE seat.He fits both criteria as a Porsche-contracted driver with FE experience after a short stint with Dragon Racing at the start of the 2017/18 season.Jani denied that he had agreed terms to race for Porsche in FE in 2019/20.“Nothing has been agreed, but I have always made it clear that I want to do FE with Porsche,” he said.“The Dragon deal didn’t work out, but I think I proved to Porsche what I can over the four years with them in the WEC.”It would appear unlikely that Porsche will be in a position to announce a driver with an existing FE contract during season five, which starts next weekend in Saudi ArabiaTecheetah driver Andre Lotterer remains under contract with Porsche for 2019 after signing a three-year deal ahead of the 2017 WEC, but he is also understood to have agreed a two-season deal with his FE employer and its new partner Citroen sub-brand DS.Enzinger stated that development of Porsche’s FE powertrain, which ran on the dyno for the first time in October, was on schedule.“We are happy so far: we started early and we think we are working in the right direction,” he said.Porsche will take delivery of its first Gen2 FE chassis in the second week of January and will then build up the car around its powertrain in readiness to begin testing in March.An unliveried FE show car bearing Porsche’s name was on display at its Night of Champions event on Saturday.center_img Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 11, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Formula E Attack Mode Showcased In New Videolast_img read more

  • Road Test 2018 Kia Optima PHEV Plugin Hybrid

    first_imgSource: Electric, Hybrid, Clean Diesel & High-MPG Vehicles When You’re Not Quite Ready For A Battery Electric CarSurveys show that more and more American drivers are considering battery electric vehicles (BEVs) but are still hesitant in making the purchase. There are several reasons, one of which is still “range anxiety.” That’s the fear of depleting the battery’s electricity, leaving one stranded in the middle of who knows where.If you like the idea of an electric vehicle but are holding back, you should consider a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV). It’s two cars in one; a short range electric vehicle and a hybrid vehicle. That means when the battery is depleted a gasoline engine automatically takes over and operates as a standard gasoline-powered hybrid. Thus, range anxiety is no longer an issue.Yes, like an electric car the battery needs to be recharged, either from a standard electric outlet or home charger or, from a public charging station. If the battery is no longer delivering electrons, just keep on driving and fill the gas tank until you can recharge.2018 Kia Optima PHEVThe Kia Optima plug-in was introduced for the 2017 model year. For 2018 there are no major changes; just paint and trim colors.A little electric, but a lot more miles overall Like last year, the 2018 Kia Optima PHEV is thousands of dollars less than other similar models in the segment including the Ford Fusion Energi. Although only one trim level exists for the car, the EX trim, it’s at a level that most buyers will be looking for.When combining the plug-in Optima’s electric driving range with the hybrid range, the car can travel up to 610 miles. On just electric power alone, it can go as far as 29 miles before needing a recharge. On gas-powered performance, it’s EPA rated at 40-mpg combined city and highway, while its electric power economy is 103 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivalent). That alone is a good enough reason to check the car out and take a test drive.As a plug-in hybrid, the 2018 Kia Optima PHEV has two power sources: a 2.0-liter gasoline-powered engine with 154 horsepower and a 66 horsepower electric motor. Under acceleration, the engine and electric motor pool their resources to provide a combined system output of 220 horsepower. That puts it right in line with traditional gas-powered vehicles in its segment.What distinguishes the Optima plug-in from other PHEVs is its six-speed automatic transmission, a relative anomaly some drivers will prefer over a continuously variable transmission (CVT) more common to hybrids. While other carmakers have gone so far as to simulate stepped gearing in their continuously variable automatic transmissions, Kia offers the real thing, making the vehicle feel much like a conventional gas-powered car.Exterior and InteriorWhen Kia redesigned the Optima in 2016 they took a step back from the forward-looking, forward-thinking example of daring and aggressive design of the previous version. The look is conservative and mature. With the Optima PHEV, the automaker put form in the service of function — better aerodynamics that matches the Tesla Model S electric sedan’s drag coefficient of just 0.24 Cd.From the outside, the plug-in Optima’s shapely hood, elongated dimensions, sloping roofline, and curves hint at a sportier mission. The car has Kia’s recognizable sporty honeycombed front grille along with chrome-accented exterior trim.Great for people; less so for cargoInside, the conservatively laid out driver’s quarters features simply arranged buttons and knobs, and occupant space front and back that is roomy and comfortable. However, the sloping roofline cuts into rear head space, but wide door openings help taller passengers enter and exit without much fuss. There’s just enough head room for six-footers, but taller passengers may want to consider calling shotgun—or taking the keys altogether.I gave the plug-in Optima a big demerit for cargo capacity. There is less cargo space in the trunk than on most compact hatchbacks — just 9.89 cubic feet. If it’s meant to be a family car, it’s for one that doesn’t need to carry any baby stuff beyond a diaper bag.This Optima has plug powerSpecification levels are high with the single EX trim level. Offerings include cruise control, heated and power-folding exterior mirrors, heated steering wheel and leather seats with heating for the front row and 10-way power adjustment for the driver.The 2018 Optima Plug-in Hybrid continues Kia’s knack for creating strong showroom appeal by including hot-button features as standard. These include Kia’s UVO’s infotainment telematics system with an eight inch display screen. It includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone linking, satellite radio and a rear-camera display. Add to the list an auxiliary audio jack and a USB interface for iPods and other digital media, plus a tilt/telescoping steering wheel fitted with audio, Bluetooth, and cruise controls. A bonus is the standard Harman Kardon 10-speaker audio system.For those who want the latest in comprehensive safety tech, there’s the Optional Technology Package. It adds autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, rear park assist, LED headlights with dynamic bending light, panoramic sunroof and LED interior lighting. You also get ventilated front seats, a 10-way power front passenger seat and heated rear seats.On the RoadDriving the 2018 Optima Plug-in Hybrid is a soothing respite to the bustle and hubbub of city traffic — nicely soundproofed, luxuriously appointed and pleasant to drive. Kia’s reason for choosing an automatic transmission rather than the more common hybrid continuously variable transmission (CVT) was to address the complaint that hybrids were boring to drive.Plenty of power when you need itMash the throttle and the six-speed transmission winds nicely toward top rpm, shifting each time somewhere around 6,000 rpm, when the full tug of torque seems ready to run out. So it would seem that Kia’s goal of achieving a driving experience that closely parallels a conventional car is accomplished.As for handling, the car has balanced agility for the hybrid sedan class and the suspension keeps everything secure. The ride is composed and comfortable with the suspension soaking up potholes and rough pavement.My favorite aspect of the Kia’s road manners is its responsive steering. It has a quick and precise feeling, is balanced and firm, but never twitchy. Regenerative and hydraulic braking play a role in the electric hybrid system and the brake pedal felt firm and easily hauled down speed.Accelerating moderately and keeping pace with 70-75 mph freeway traffic, after diving 236 miles in our EX test car nearly equally between city and highway driving we averaged 42.8 mpg. What likely helped beat the EPA rating was the hybrid system’s ability to travel on electric power at 70 mph, something I found fairly easy to do.In the MarketplaceThe 2018 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid faces off against several mid-size sedan competitors. These include Kia’s sister company’s Hyundai Sonata PHEV, Toyota’s Prius Prime, the Ford Fusion Energi, Honda Clarity PHEV and Chevrolet’s outgoing Volt.At $35,210, the 2018 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid is priced competitively. Hyundai’s Sonata PHEV is priced from $33,250 to $38,850, while the Prius Prime prices range from $27,300 to $33,300. Ford offers three trim levels for the Fusion Energi with a price starting at $33,400 to $41,400.Honda’s Clarity PHEV comes in two flavors, Base and Touring, with a sticker price of $33,000 for the base trim and $36,600 for the Touring. Chevrolet is ceasing producion of the Volt next February, so expect closeout prices soon. In the meantime the Volt has a price of $33,220 for the LT trim and $35,570 for the Premier trim.Competition’s out there, but Kia has an edgeEach of the above PHEVs have different electric-only driving ranges as well as different hybrid-only driving ranges as well as different standard and optional features. So, it’s important to check out the details.But the 2018 Optima Plug-in Hybrid offers a compelling reason to  buy — Kia’s warranty. Basic coverage is five-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper, and 10-years/100,000-miles for the hybrid powertrain, which includes the battery pack, electric motor, gear drive unit, electric power control unit, onboard charger, the works.Then there’s the warranty knockout punch—a lifetime warranty for the battery pack. If the lithium polymer battery fails, Kia will replace the battery and cover recycling costs of the old battery pack free of charge to the original owner.That’s impressive and reassuring. If for no other reason than the warranty, if you have decided it’s time to move to a plug-in hybrid, the 2018 Kia Optima PHEV should be on your shopping list.Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.”Related Stories You Might Enjoy—the PHEV ChallengersNews: 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Gets More RangeNews: 2018 Hyundai Sonata PHEV Gets Price Cut, More RangeRoad Test: 2017 Hyundai Sonata PHEVFlash Drive: 2018 Toyota Prius PrimeRoad Test: 2017 Ford Fusion EnergiRoad Test: 2018 Honda Clarity PHEVRoad Test: 2019 Chevrolet Volt.Disclosure:Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.last_img read more

  • Alex on Autos Tesla Model 3 Child Seat Test Plus Call To

    first_imgThe Tesla Model 3 aces this car seat test in more ways than one.Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img

  • Indianapolis buses to use wireless inductive charging

    first_imgEV charging company Momentum Dynamics has partnered with BYD and Indianapolis Public Transportation (IndyGo) to install three 300 kW inductive charging points in Indianapolis. The charging points will be placed along the Red Line transit route, enabling IndyGo’s fleet of 31 electric buses to charge en route. Momentum Dynamiccurrently operates wireless inductive chargers in four states. According to thecompany, the IndyGo system is the highest capacity system of its kind in theworld. IndyGo CEO Mike Terry said, “IndyGo is focused on embracing innovations that improve service reliability, reduce carbon emissions, and increase operational efficiency. The partnership between BYD and Momentum Dynamics to install a wireless inductive charging solution promises to extend the range of BYD buses on the Red Line.”Momentum Dynamics CEO and founder Andrew Daga said, “We are moving toward an electric transportation future, and Indianapolis is leading the pack both nationally and globally. As public transit agencies transition fleets to electric vehicles, they see substantial economic and environmental benefits with on-route wireless charging technology.” Source: BYD Source: Electric Vehicles Magazinelast_img read more

  • At FCPA Sentencing Judge Goes Off On Various Aspects Of FCPA Enforcement

    first_img Elevate Your FCPA Research There are several subject matter tags in this post. However, only subscribers to FCPA Professor’s premium search feature can see and use them in research. Efficient and cost-effective FCPA research is just a click away. While Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement is largely devoid of judicial scrutiny, sentencing of individual defendants remains a judicial function and provides a rare (and often overlooked) public glimpse of someone other than the enforcement agencies weighing in on issues relevant to FCPA enforcement.Sentencing transcripts not only capture advocacy moments seldom publicly seen in FCPA enforcement, but also telling unscripted comments concerning FCPA enforcement.  For instance, while the enforcement agencies and others often portray bribery as a black and white issue, judges sentencing FCPA individual defendants often see shades of gray.Several examples are highlighted in the book “The FCPA in a New Era” and another noteworthy example concerns recent remarks made by Nicholas Garaufis (Senior District Judge, E.D.N.Y. – nominated to the bench by President Clinton) in sentencing Samuel Mebiame, a Gabonese national connected to Och-Ziff who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions in connection with African mining projects.For starters, in sentencing Mebiame Judge Garaufis rejected the DOJ’s 5 year sentencing recommendation and sentenced Mebiame to 2 years in federal prison. It is the norm, not the exception, that federal court judges significantly reject DOJ sentencing recommendations in individual FCPA enforcement actions.Like several other judges sentencing FCPA individual defendants, Judge Garaufis expressed concerns with the DOJ’s frequent approach of zeroing in on one individual and urging the judge to make an example of the one individual to achieve maximum deterrence.Judge Garaufis stated:“He [Mebiame] is not a central player in the Och-Ziff scheme, which has, from my reading of the public documents, involves over $200 million in alleged or I guess admitted bribes in various African countries, the largest of those offenses having absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Mebiame, and countries that he has no connection to. So, I think to call  him a major player and then to sort of parse those words is not fair.”Larry Krantz, Mebiame’s counsel, continued with this theme and stated:“So, he [Mebiame] finds himself here oddly, and, I would say sympathetically as his lawyer, the only person charged in what has been a large government investigation. And I believe that having charged him, frankly, institutional considerations set in with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. These are FCPA cases, they’re governed by Main Justice, everything is vetted through Main Justice, and there are policy considerations that impact decisions, recommendations that are made.And the policy decisions, as I understand it, are harsh in FCPA cases, which is why there is a bevy of cases out there where the Government is asking for a very high sentence and the defendant is not sentenced anywhere near that.You might ask, well, why is it that in FCPA cases it seems to be happening more commonly than others, and I suggest that, to my understanding, the reason is because it’s one of those cases where there’s a centralized policy that’s being implemented. And I respect the policy. The thinking is that stiff sentences will send a message, deterrent, corruption is a bad thing. We accept all that. But it can’t be done, in our view, on the back of Mr. Mebiame’s life.”Thereafter, Judge Garaufis stated:“Well, I understand the Government’s objectives in bringing this prosecution and I understand the Government’s objectives in bringing the civil cases and the cases against Och-Ziff. And I think it’s really ironic that in the other cases that I have, to put it as dispassionately as possible, the room was filled with lawyers, high-priced lawyers from  major law firms. This Defendant shows up at the door of the IRS without any representation. And I have a real concern about whether he had a real understanding of the potential consequences.Not that anything was done improperly by the Government, but even a fare beater on the New York City subway before he or she goes before a judge gets legal representation. And here we have this massive fraud scheme against three countries’ governments by a major entity or entities, and this gentleman was a participant in it in a significant way, but the rest of the people who were engaged in this are off on some golf course. There is an incongruity, there’s an imbalance here, frankly.Now, it may be there isn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute certain people. That may be. But I have all this information that I received in connection with other cases which indicates that the Government is well aware of certain behavior that happened over an extended period of time throughout Africa. And all I have here is I have these deferred prosecution agreements on the one hand, which are not part of this case that’s before me today, and then I have this defendant who came forward with information — some of it may have been correct, some of it may have been misleading, I don’t know — but he voluntarily came and disgorged this information which demonstrated that he was guilty of a conspiracy to bribe foreign officials for mining licenses, and he’s been sitting at the MDC since August 16, 2016 and he faces the statutory maximum.If Congress wanted make the statutory maximum 20 years, they certainly have had the opportunity to do that. They had the opportunity to create mandatory minimums. They do that all the time in other areas, but they haven’t done that in this area, on this particular charge.So, I’m at a loss about how one balances the different considerations in creating a sentence that is  sufficient but not greater than that necessary to fulfill the purposes of sentencing in this case.”Thereafter, Judge Garaufis stated:“Well, it’s clear that this is an intelligent, articulate, and experienced individual who has engaged in criminal misconduct, of which he admits freely, and that the victims are his misconduct are, in the end, the  people of the countries where the bribery took place. And that’s no small matter. In fact, some of the poorest people in the world live in those countries.Whether they would have benefited if he had not engaged in this conduct, I’m not entirely sure as I’m not an expert on the politics of the nations in question. My guess, though, is that this kind of behavior is rather common in those countries and the population is often victimized by the government officials who are sworn to protect and defend the population. But that having been said, the Defendant’s behavior is unacceptable, he’s pleaded guilty, and he deserves a substantial sentence.My biggest problem with this case and this defendant is a lack of balance between the sentence that’s requested and the fact that while he’s a player, there are many other people who are obviously as accountable or more accountable than he is for what’s been going on, and in all this time I haven’t seen anybody brought forward who has been brought in and held  accountable. Now, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or next year, but this has been going on a long time.The only people who seem to do well in this kind of a situation are lawyers at big law firms, and I’m really sick and tired of it when they march into my courtroom and they get a deferred prosecution agreement for their clients, also who have a presumption of innocence, obviously, and I don’t discount that.But this is a very troubling situation. I’m not going to hold Mr. Mebiame responsible for all the ills of corruption in Africa, or anywhere else for that matter, but he’s the only person standing in front of me.”In closing, Judge Garaufis stated:“I’ve guess I’ve said it three times and I’ll say it again: It’s time for people who are responsible for this kind of behavior to be held accountable; not just one person, but everybody. And, so, to those people in Washington who are busy having conversations with white-shoe lawyers all over the East Coast, I think it’s time for them to get real and stop resolving matters by avoiding the difficult decisions that need to be made. We have a law, so why don’t you go out and enforce it?And I’m not talking to these prosecutors, I’m talking to everybody down at the Justice Department. If one person is this responsible, that means that a lot more is going on. You don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar to understand that this kind of behavior is rampant in third world countries.” Elevate Your Researchlast_img read more

  • This Week On FCPA Professor

    first_imgElevate your FCPA knowledge and practical skills at the FCPA Institute – Phoenix on January 17-18, 2019. Click here to learn more and register. FCPA Professor has been described as “the Wall Street Journal concerning all things FCPA-related,” and “the most authoritative source for those seeking to understand and apply the FCPA.”Set forth below are the topics discussed this week on FCPA Professor.This post highlights various statistics from DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement actions in 2018.This post highlights various statistics from SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions in 2018.In this FCPA Flash podcast episode, Philip Urofsky (Shearman & Sterling) discusses various 2018 FCPA trends and developments.As highlighted here, FCPA scrutiny simply lasts too long. Specifically, 4.25 years was the approximate median length of time companies that resolved FCPA enforcement actions in 2018 were under scrutiny.This post rounds up other FCPA and related developments.last_img read more

  • Living Off the GRID Wild Edibles

    first_imgby, Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.orgTweetShareShareEmail0 SharesOne of the themes in Tribes of Eden I personally found compelling was the idea of getting closer to nature and living off the land. Readers get their first taste of this when the survivors of the Wallace family, seemingly at their lowest point on the run from the terror of America’s collapse, find nourishment from nature:“The earth, now in spring’s first flush, fed them. Kiana’s trained eyes found dandelion greens, wild mushrooms, and fiddlehead ferns. Val still had Makena’s pouch of matches slung around her neck. Eron scavenged a pot from a barn, half of which remained standing. Kianna made hot soup for children.”Soon after (but not before a few more brushes with disaster), the Wallace family finds refuge in the Shire, a remote community that survived the collapse of society because its residents had been living “off-the-grid” for many years. Completely self-sufficient, they had learned how to live off the land, harness solar and wind power, forage medicinal wild plants and make their own clothes and tools.What makes the Shire sections of the book most compelling is that they are based on the author’s own experience living-off-the-grid for nearly twenty years. Summerhill is a real place and Bill and Jude Thomas did build their own house and live off the land and farm with draft horses and use only wind or solar energy.I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to build my own house and truly live off the land, but as a hobby I do enjoy learning about and foraging for wild edible plants near where I live. And yes, there are numerous wild edibles plants right outside my door in the city of Baltimore.Last summer I attended an urban foraging class put on by the Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreation featuring Leda Meredith, a foraging expert and author from Brooklyn. In one afternoon she showed us nearly two dozen wild edible plants in Druid Hill Park right in the heart of Baltimore. These ranged from Burdock and Mayapples to Milkweed, Pokeweed, Black Raspberries and Daylilies.I recorded the whole workshop on my iPhone and edited together clips of each of the different plant species we harvested. Take a look at the first video featuring the Daylily, a true “supermarket” wild edible. And if you want to know what it’s like living “off-the-GRID,” check out Tribes of Eden today!Related PostsUrban Foraging 101: Know Your SeasonsI was totally surprised last week that my urban foraging blog post was the most popular story in the weekly roundup. I thought that was funny considering I was writing about a hobby only tangentially related to ChangingAging! Upon reflection, I can think of many ways foraging for edible plants…Tribes of EdenIn the mid-1990’s I decided to write a book about aging. It was going to be a serious, deeply researched non-fiction book that would update the state of knowledge regarding aging. In the evenings, when I sat down to write this book — I had trouble concentrating. Instead of working…Life In The ShireOne of the most interesting things about fiction is that, for the most part, it is really just life— artfully arranged. Almost all of the scenes, incidents and characters we read about in novels can also be found in real life, in fact most of them are based on living…TweetShareShareEmail0 SharesTags: baltimore ChangingAging foraging tribes of eden wild edibleslast_img read more

  • Redaction of substance abuse data could result in longterm implications

    first_img Among all Medicare beneficiaries, the prevalence of chronic conditions related to substance abuse was lower with redaction. The prevalence of hepatitis C, for example, was underestimated by 11.7%. Underestimates of prevalence were greater for beneficiaries younger than age 65. Redaction removed 14.5% of the hepatitis C population, 13.4% of the population with other liver disease. It also removed 5.7% of the population with serious mental illness and the same share of patients with depression. Among the 6.3 million beneficiaries with in-patient claims (in-patient admission) 7.1% had at least one inpatient claim redacted. Inpatient admissions and spending were about 5% lower after redaction, resulting in a $6.8 billion underestimate of inpatient Medicare spending. Related StoriesMedicare going in ‘right direction’ on opioid epidemicNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairThe research team says their findings suggest four important implications of the redaction of substance abuse claims: Jun 5 2018Due to a change in federal regulation, from 2013-2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) redacted any health care encounter that included a diagnosis or procedure code related to substance abuse from the Medicare and Medicaid identifiable files. The result was difficult-to-identify gaps in claims data commonly used by researchers, policy analysts, clinicians, health care administrators, and others. To better understand the impact of the missing substance abuse data claims, a team of researchers from The Dartmouth Institute and the University of Michigan calculated the effect of redaction on prevalence estimates of common chronic conditions, such as hepatitis C and depression, as well as on inpatient use and spending.”Even though access to this data was restored in 2017, it can be quite time consuming and costly to go back and fill in the gaps,” says lead author and Dartmouth Institute research scientist Andrea Austin, PhD. “And, the reality is that redaction can and likely has affected a wide range of studies, beyond studies of addiction and opioid use disorder.”Using Medicare claims from 2012, the year before the redaction was implemented, the research team, created a new version of the 2012 cohort by removing any claim that included a substance abuse-related diagnosis or procedure code that was redacted in 2013. Then, to characterize how redaction might affect studies that utilized this data, they calculated the population rates of admission per 100 beneficiaries for selected diagnoses likely to be related to substance abuse, such as serious mental illness, depression, and hepatitis C. For comparison, they also calculated admission rates for diagnoses, such as diabetes, that are less likely be associated with substance-abuse (and thus less likely to be affected by redaction).Among their findings recently reported in Health Affairs: To understand what effect redaction may have had on academic research, the team also searched PubMed and identified at least nine studies that used Medicare data released during the years when data were likely to be redacted (2012-2014), with several authors noting that redaction had limited their ability to examine substance abuse claims or co-morbidity.”The redaction left a legacy that we very much need to be conscious of and continue to examine,” Austin says, “particularly because it coincided with two monumental events in U.S. health care –implementation of the ACA and declining life expectancy.”center_img Estimated co-morbidity in the population age 65 and older will be minimally affected. Co-morbidity for in the population younger than 65 will be understated, particularly for hepatitis C and mental illness. Redaction could distort evidence on the treatment and outcomes of two important patient groups: those with hepatitis C who are taking new drugs such as Sofosbuvir and those at risk of overdose related to opioid use Research on inpatient use among Medicare beneficiaries younger than 65 will be limited. Source:http://www.tdi.dartmouth.edu/last_img read more

  • Children born by cesarean more likely to develop food allergies shows study

    first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 10 2018Children born by cesarean, or C-section, more often develop food allergies. The opposite applies to very preterm children. This is shown in a study of more than one million children conducted by researchers at örebro University and Karolinska institutet, published today in theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.”We believe that children born by C-section have a different bacterial flora than that passed on to vaginally delivered children and that the flora may impact the risk of developing food allergies,” says Jonas F. Ludvigsson, pediatrician and researcher at örebro University.”We do not know for sure why the risk is lower in very preterm children, but it may have to do with the neonatal care that they receive,” says Niki Mitselou, pediatrician as well as doctoral student at örebro University and the lead author of the study.Niki Mitselou and Jonas Ludvigsson have studied children born between 2001 and 2012 in Sweden. Data shows that children born by C-section run a 21 per cent higher risk of developing food allergies than children born by normal delivery.Smaller studies with similar findings have been conducted, but this is the first major national study where researchers have been able to point to a link between childbirth method and food allergies.”One in six children today is born by C-section. It is important that the mothers-to-be and physicians are aware of the risks associated with C-sections both in the short and long term, and that these risks are taken into account in planned C-sections,” says Niki Mitselou.Related StoriesDaily intake for phosphates in infants, children can exceed health guidance valuesGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeResearch team receives federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifida”Then there are of course acute situations when an emergency C-section is absolutely necessary, whether the child in the future will develop food allergies or not.”What surprised the physicians the most was that children born preterm run a lower risk of developing food allergies – a 26 per cent lower risk in fact.”We have studied the very preterm children – born before week 32. Since these children are closely monitored by pediatricians also after they have left the neonatal ward, any food allergies should most likely have been detected. Instead, these children are at a lower risk.””We believe the lower risk may be because of a different food introduction to very preterm infants compared to other children, or that factors relating to neonatal care may protect against food allergies,” says Jonas F. Ludvigsson.The researchers have also studied the impact of birth weight and the newborn’s status five minutes after birth (the so called Apgar score). During this test, physicians evaluate on a scale of 0 to 2, for example the baby’s breathing, pulse, color and activity.”Children who scored low directly after birth, a sign of severe stress during birth, run an increased risk of developing food allergies. This also applies to children who have a higher birth weight than expected,” says Niki Mitselou.The researchers’ goal is to find causes of food allergies in order to prevent children from developing allergies. Source:https://www.oru.se/english/news/okad-risk-att-utveckla-matallergi-for-barn-fodda-med-kejsarsnitt–i-motsats-till-mycket-for-tidigt-fodda-barn/last_img read more

  • US halts funding for new risky virus studies calls for voluntary moratorium

    first_imgThe White House today stepped into an ongoing debate about controversial virus experiments with a startling announcement: It is halting all federal funding for so-called gain-of-function (GOF) studies that alter a pathogen to make it more transmissible or deadly so that experts can work out a U.S. government-wide policy for weighing the risks. Federal officials are also asking the handful of researchers doing ongoing work in this area to agree to a voluntary moratorium.The “pause on funding,” a White House blog states, applies to “any new studies … that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route.” The government also “encourages those currently conducting this type of work—whether federally funded or not—to voluntarily pause their research while risks and benefits are being reassessed.” Research and testing of naturally occurring forms of these pathogens will continue. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img An accompanying document describes plans for a two-stage “deliberative process” to determine the risks and benefits of GOF experiments and to develop a U.S. policy for approving new studies. It will begin next week when the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), an advisory group that has not met for 2 years, convenes on 22 October to begin designing a study to assess the risks and benefits of GOF research. The National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) will also hold a symposium to discuss the scientific issues, then later review NSABB’s recommendations, which are due within 6 months. “The NRC and IOM have begun selecting an expert committee to oversee this event, which will be held in public, webcast, and archived for the widest possible distribution,” according to a statement from the academies. The White House plan is to have a final policy in place within a year.The U.S. government is responding to a resurgence in concerns about GOF studies, which have deeply split the scientific community. Three years ago, two separate research teams revealed that they had made a version of the H5N1 avian influenza strain that spread between ferrets. Many scientists worried that if the potent new lab strain were accidentally or deliberately released, it could result in a deadly pandemic. Proponents argued that such studies will help public health researchers detect an impending flu pandemic and prepare vaccines.After much discussion, a decision to publish the papers, a 1-year voluntary moratorium by researchers on new GOF flu studies, and new U.S. rules, the work resumed last year. But as new papers on humanmade H5N1 and other dangerous flu strains have come out in recent months, concerns have been rekindled—in part because of lab accidents at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that raised questions about safety at U.S. high-containment labs.A group calling itself the Cambridge Working Group issued a statement in July saying that studies with “potential pandemic pathogens” should be “curtailed” until the risks and benefits could be evaluated; it has garnered hundreds of signatures. Another group of scientists supporting the experiments—they call themselves Scientists for Science—defended the studies as safe but also called for a meeting to discuss the issues.That discussion will now happen, although today’s announcement took many scientists involved in the issue by surprise.Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, who co-organized the Cambridge Working Group statement and personally supports a moratorium on GOF flu studies, says he is “very pleased” with the announcement. “I think the deliberative process is exactly what we and also Scientists for Science have called for,” Lipsitch says.Boston University microbiologist Paul Duprex, a leader of Scientists for Science, says that although he is “not a fan of blanket bans,” there is “precedent” for a pause. He looks forward to “the presentation of hard evidence and the discussion of the data.” Both Lipsitch and Duprex are speaking before NSABB next week.Also speaking at the meeting will be Michael Osterholm, a former NSABB member and head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He opposed publication of the earlier H5N1 studies and has long argued that researchers have not undertaken rigorous risk-benefit analyses. “I think it’s a great time to dive into the risk-benefit question,” he told ScienceInsider today. “You’ll never [be able to] fine-tune the calculation down to 1%, but you can reach some reasonable approximation—and do much better than we are doing now.”“This is major,” says Peter Hale of the Foundation for Vaccine Research in Washington, D.C., who has been campaigning for years for tigher regulation of GOF studies. “Our hope is that investigators who have been conducting these experiments will also implement a pause immediately and stop further work until there is a consensus as to whether this research should be allowed to proceed and, if so, under what conditions.”Others were less enthusiastic. “The Administration thinks what we need right now is to STOP research on deadly pathogens? WTF?,” tweeted Alan Dove, a science writer and co-host of This Week In Virology, a science podcast and blog. Emaillast_img read more

  • Dark magma could explain mystery volcanoes

    first_imgThe magma fueling the volcanoes of Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park pipes up from deep inside the planet. Scientists have struggled to understand why there are hot spots there, so far from the grinding tectonic plate boundaries at which volcanoes normally appear. New research chalks the mystery up to “dark magma”: deep underground pockets of red-hot molten rock that siphon energy from Earth’s core.“It’s a very provocative paper … a bit speculative,” says Thomas Duffy, a geoscientist at Princeton University who was not involved with the study. “But it’s taking us in an important step on the road to understanding the deep Earth.”Most volcanoes form because tectonic plates, vast sections of Earth’s crust, smash against or slide underneath each other. The pushing and melting there feed the volcanoes in the infamous Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean. But hot spot–spawned volcanoes like Hawaii’s are a different breed. They are nowhere near tectonic plate edges, and yet millions of years ago they spewed out so much lava that they nearly blanketed whole continents with molten rock or covered the globe with soot. Geologists believe the source of this magma is coming from just above Earth’s outer core, but they’re not exactly sure how. Alexander Goncharov, a geophysicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., and colleagues think that there are patches of magma—remnants from an early molten stage of our planet’s history—quilted around the outer core. Because the bottom of Earth’s mantle is nearly 3000 kilometers below the surface—about a 3-day journey if you could drive there by car—temperatures and pressures reach such hellish extremes that the atomic structures of these magmas are different from those they would have at lesser pressures. Duffy says that “can really change physical properties a lot,” including the way the material looks and absorbs heat.To test how magma might behave near the core, Goncharov and his colleagues squeezed a sliver of a dark, opaque glass, made from iron and silicate to mimic the composition of deep Earth magmas, between two diamonds to simulate pressures near the core. The team then shined an infrared light through the glass and measured how much light passed through. As the pressure increased, so did the amount of light the glass absorbed, and the team saw a change in the atomic structure of the glass, the researchers report online today in Nature Communications.Goncharov says that means magmas at high pressures in the lower mantle must be sponging up heat emanating from the core. As these patches of magma around the core get hotter, they start to act as a door for heat to pass into the mantle by convection. The heated mantle rocks then move up through the planet in a massive plume until they erupt on the surface, creating large volcanoes in strange places like Hawaii, Yellowstone, Easter Island, and Mount Etna, and some of the most violent eruptions.If the team is right, its work could illuminate a key part of Earth’s geology. Duffy says these plumes are “one of the most important things to understand,” because the movement of heat powers many processes on the planet. For one, Earth’s magnetic field depends on how the core spins and flows inside the planet. As a result, Duffy says, “the way heat flows from the core to the mantle could potentially affect the way Earth’s magnetic field evolves over time.”Not everybody is ready to get behind Goncharov and his colleagues’ new hypothesis. “There are two fundamental limitations of the paper,” Duffy says. “First that they’re studying a glass and not [melted rock], and there’s the fact that [the experiment] is at room temperature and not high temperature.” Until scientists perform the experiment with molten rock heated to about 3200°C, Duffy says, they can’t be sure how the magma really behaves.And geologists still contest whether the pockets of magma around Earth’s outer core actually exist. To probe Earth’s interior, scientists rely on seismic waves from large earthquakes that have to travel through 3000 kilometers of rock. At that depth, the measurements become “a little bit ambiguous,” Duffy says. “And there’s a question as to why the liquid wouldn’t just all drain [away].” Because these dark magma pockets float above the core, it’s a bit like imagining an ocean rising tens of kilometers above sea level. “It’s not impossible,” he says, “but the idea that there’s melt in the deep mantle is controversial.” Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more

  • The bigger your brain the longer you yawn

    first_img When you let forth a big, embarrassing yawn during a boring lecture or concert, you succumb to a reflex so universal among animals that Charles Darwin mentioned it in his field notes. “Seeing a dog & horse & man yawn, makes me feel how much all animals are built on one structure,” he wrote in 1838. Scientists, however, still don’t agree on why we yawn or where it came from. So in a new study, researchers watched YouTube videos of 29 different yawning mammals, including mice, kittens, foxes, hedgehogs, walruses,  elephants, and humans. (Here is a particularly cute montage used in the study.) They discovered a pattern: Small-brained animals with fewer neurons in the wrinkly outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, had shorter yawns than large-brained animals with more cortical neurons, the scientists report today in Biology Letters. Primates tended to yawn longer than nonprimates, and humans, with about 12,000 million cortical neurons, had the longest average yawn, lasting a little more than 6 seconds. The yawns of tiny-brained mice, in contrast, were less than 1.5 seconds in duration. The study lends support to a long-held hypothesis that yawning has an important physiological effect, such as increasing blood flow to the brain and cooling it down, the scientists say. *Correction, 6 October, 10:11 a.m.: A previous version of this story inaccurately suggested that a human brain is roughly the same weight as an elephant’s. In fact, the African elephant brain is about three times heavier than the human brain. MarcusObal/Wikimedia Commons By Emily UnderwoodOct. 4, 2016 , 7:15 PM Creative Commons The bigger your brain, the longer you yawn Creative Commons © sambrogio/iStockphoto Daisuke Tashiro/Wikimedia Commons Daisuke Tashiro/Wikimedia Commons ‹› Creative Commons last_img read more

  • Giant radio telescope lends a hand in Puerto Rico relief

    first_img When Angel Vazquez emerged from his home on 21 September after Hurricane Maria had raged through the night, he saw a scene of utter devastation now familiar to all in Puerto Rico. Homes and buildings were damaged; trees and utility poles were down. Power, sanitation, and all communications were out, he soon discovered. Neighbors were already trying to clear the roads with chainsaws and machetes, but for Vazquez the most pressing need was to check on the Arecibo Observatory, the gargantuan radio telescope built into a depression in the island’s karst hills.Vazquez, head of telescope operations at the facility, got in his car and crept behind a bulldozer that was pushing through debris up the road to the observatory. The normally 20-minute journey took almost 2 hours. Once there, “I got a good surprise,” he says. The couple of dozen staff on site were all safe, and damage to the 54-year-old observatory was relatively slight—it was built with Cold War solidity partly for military research.But more than a month later, Arecibo is still waiting to resume normal operations. In the meantime, the telescope and its infrastructure have become the unlikely base for an ongoing relief effort for its staff and nearby communities. And in a painful irony, while the 110 employees put their own lives back together, the future of their observatory is in question. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which supplies most of Arecibo’s funding, wants to substantially scale down its contributions and has been looking for other backers. This week, the National Science Board, which oversees NSF, is discussing plans for the observatory’s future. An Arecibo Observatory staffer greets a U.S. Coast Guard pilot ferrying food and water for delivery to nearby communities. PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS DAVID MICALLEF Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Giant radio telescope lends a hand in Puerto Rico relief Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Once Vazquez had sized up the damage at the observatory, he headed back down the hill with dozens of phone numbers and messages for staff members’ families in the continental United States. By fortunate circumstance, Vazquez is a ham radio enthusiast; he had a generator and his antenna survived the storm. Soon he was passing on the numbers and messages to ham operators on the mainland, some of them former Arecibo staff, who made phone calls to anxious families and relayed messages back through Vazquez. He says that the makeshift communications system conveyed about 250 messages in the following days, in addition to reporting the status of the observatory to the institutions that manage it.Many local staff turned up for work the following day, 22 September, but it took more than a week for observatory officials to make sure all their employees were safe. Some had been trapped in villages entirely cut off by landslides, downed power lines, and toppled cell towers. “We had a phone tree, but no phones,” Deputy Director Joan Schmelz says.As soon as the safety of the laboratory was assured, Arecibo Director Francisco Cordova contacted the government’s center of emergency operations in San Juan to offer its facilities, including a pumped well, three 1-megawatt diesel generators, storage space, and a helipad. Soon federal relief agencies and the U.S. military were dropping off food and bottled water, which observatory staff delivered to surrounding communities. Arecibo has also been supplying tens of thousands of liters of water a day to local people who come to fill up containers. “We’re still doing this. The relief effort has been continuous,” Vazquez says.Meanwhile, the observatory itself has been inching back to life. A rudimentary internet connection was restored in late October, taking advantage of public Wi-Fi services—normally the bane of radio telescopes. “Usually I have to police these providers because of frequency interference. Now I had to go to them for help,” Vazquez says.But “the biggest obstacle to observations” is lack of power, says Nicholas White, senior vice president for science at the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland, which helps manage Arecibo. Restoration of grid power may be weeks away. And though the observatory’s generators can support full operation, Schmelz says, “Diesel is in great demand on the island,” and airports and hospitals have priority. As it is, the observatory is burning 3000 liters of diesel a day simply to keep some equipment running, including the vital hydrogen maser frequency standard—recalibrating it after a shutdown could take a month, according to Schmelz.Researchers have been operating the telescope in a low-power mode called “drift scan,” in which it is left pointing in one direction, allowing the sky to drift past as Earth rotates. But turning on any of the telescope’s radars to study planets and Earth’s upper atmosphere, for example, is ruled out because it would double diesel consumption. Over the past week, with the diesel supply improving, staff have been conducting pointing checks—moving the 900-ton platform that steers the telescope’s focus—in the expectation that enough fuel will soon be available for full operation.While they cope with the chaos around them, staff are waiting anxiously to hear NSF’s decision on their fate. If no other organization offers to fill the funding gap, prospects look bleak. “Everyone would like to get past this whole process,” White says. “The uncertainty has gone on for a long time.” *Update, 8 November, 4:35 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify a quote from Joan Schmelz. By Daniel CleryNov. 7, 2017 , 5:45 PM Emaillast_img read more

  • Top stories selftaming mice virulent fake news and how dogs track a

    first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email By Katie LanginMar. 9, 2018 , 5:15 PM ‘Self-domesticating’ mice suggest some animals tamed themselves without human interventionFrom the floppy ears of dogs to the curly tails of pigs, domesticated animals sport a different look from their wild cousins—a look that scientists long chalked up to human intervention. Now, a new study of wild mice shows that they, too, can develop signs of domestication—white fur patches and short snouts—with hardly any human influence. The work suggests that the mice are able to tame themselves, and that other animals like dogs may have done the same before they were fully domesticated by humans.Fake news spreads faster than true news on Twitter—thanks to people, not bots Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Top stories: ‘self-taming’ mice, virulent fake news, and how dogs track a scent (Left to right): ILYA KARNAUKHOV/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; (IMAGE) PETER BESHAI; (DATA) SOROUSH VOSOUGHI, DEB ROY, AND SINAN ARAL; PETRA JAHN From Russian “bots” to charges of fake news, headlines are awash in stories about dubious information going viral. You might think that bots—automated systems that can share information online—are to blame. But a new study shows that people are the prime culprits when it comes to the propagation of misinformation through social networks. And they’re good at it, too: Tweets containing falsehoods reach 1500 people on Twitter six times faster than truthful tweets, the research reveals.Study questions whether adults can really make new neuronsOver the past 20 years, evidence that adult humans can produce hundreds of new neurons per day has fueled hope that ramping up cell birth could be therapeutic. Boosting neurogenesis, researchers speculate, might prevent or treat depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain disorders. But a controversial study published this week threatens to dash such hopes by suggesting that the production of neurons declines sharply after early development and grinds to a halt by adulthood.Scientists win and lose in Texas primary contestsThis week’s Texas primary was the first test for scientists seeking seats this year in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the results were mixed. On the plus side, Mary Wilson, a former Austin Community College mathematics professor turned minister, has advanced to a Democratic runoff in the 21st congressional district. On the minus side, Jason Westin, a clinical oncologist seeking a chance to represent the seventh congressional district in Houston, Texas, was knocked out of the race, running third in a crowded Democratic field. What dogs ‘see’ when they smell somethingA dog searching for a lost child is typically given an item of clothing to smell. But what does that scent “look” like? Previous studies have shown that horses have mental images of their owners and other horses—based on the sounds of their voices and whinnies. But scientists know little about how smell and cognition are linked in animals that rely heavily on smell—such as dogs, elephants, and rats. Now, we have a better idea at least for our pooches: They picture what they’re searching for.last_img read more

  • A prescription for Madagascars broken health system data and a focus on

    first_img 2017 One of the biggest barriers to health in Madagascar is simply the terrain. The same stunning geography that gave rise to such unparalleled speciation has left people isolated in remote villages, far from any clinic. Here in Ifanadiana district where PIVOT works, half the population lives in communities that can be reached only by foot or motorbike, hours or days off the main road.And there are few outside dollars to help. Donors have long been reluctant to invest because of the country’s history of political turmoil and corruption, and a 2009 coup cemented those fears. Madagascar became an international pariah, ineligible for foreign aid, and annual per capita spending on health plummeted to $14, the lowest in the world. After democratic elections in 2013, foreign aid began to trickle in again, and humanitarian groups have returned to parts of the country.Crazy connectionsPIVOT came about through a web of “crazy connections,” as Robin Herrnstein describes it, at the center of which is primatologist Patricia Wright. Thirty years ago, in a remote montane rainforest in southeastern Madagascar, Wright discovered one lemur species and rediscovered another thought to be extinct. She persuaded the government to create Ranomafana National Park to preserve the rainforest and her beloved lemurs, and now splits her time between the research station she runs there, Centre ValBio, and SUNY Stony Brook. In 2009, Wright was looking for money for a new building at the research station when she was introduced to the Herrnsteins.Robin and Jim Herrnstein met at Harvard as graduate students, both studying massive black holes. She went on to Columbia, and he had lined up a job at the University of California, Berkeley. But he changed course when he gave a talk at the secretive and hugely successful quantitative hedge fund Renaissance Technologies on Long Island in New York, where almost all the analysts are physicists, mathematicians, and statisticians. The fast pace and freewheeling intellectual culture drew him in, and he joined the firm. “We had been starving graduate students. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a position to help,” says Robin Herrnstein, who left academia to start a family—one that rapidly expanded when the third child they were expecting turned out to be identical triplets.Wright invited the Herrnsteins to Ranomafana. They were wowed by the rainforest, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its rich and endangered biodiversity, and the science underway at Centre ValBio. And they were struck by the extreme poverty right next door. “You can’t describe the beauty and the suffering in words,” Robin Herrnstein says.The couple agreed to fund the new building—but only if it included a biosafety level 2 infectious disease lab, “so researchers could study not only lemurs and frogs, but what is affecting the people,” Robin Herrnstein explains. And they began to look for ways to do more. 2017 Under-5 mortality per 10,000 PIVOT Watch a related video Ifanadiana District Hospital has seen a surge in visits, but not as many as PIVOT leaders hoped. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Reporting and photography for this story were supported by the Pulitzer Center.IFANADIANA IN MADAGASCAR—Matt Bonds was young and idealistic when, as a postdoc, he set out with economist Jeffrey Sachs, a rock star in the development world, in his quest to end poverty. But the Millennium Villages Project on which they worked—a package of interventions from seeds to schools to clinics designed to improve livelihoods and health in impoverished African villages—came under withering criticism, including for a research design that made it impossible to gauge the project’s impact. Sachs, of Columbia University, was excoriated and Bonds, who was skeptical of the methodology from the start, was deeply frustrated. 2017 20 Ifanadiana district RIJASOLO RIJASOLO 25 Bonds says that work, in three hard-hit rural districts, was “off the charts successful,” noting that under-5 mortality—a key indicator of population health—dropped 64% in 5 years. But so much was changing in Rwanda at the time—international aid was pouring in, the economy was booming, and strongman President Paul Kagame had restored a tough order—that some questioned how big a role PIH played. “We didn’t have the data” that could document our impact, Bonds laments. “We didn’t have a true baseline. The data system was not in place until 6 years after the project started.”This time, Bonds, a polymath with Ph.D.s in economics and ecology who is now at Harvard Medical School in Boston, is determined to get it right, with meticulous data gathering and rigorous analysis. He is working in a remote district in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, where maternal and childhood mortality rates are shockingly high and half the children are stunted from chronic malnutrition.With an eclectic group of partners and donors, including two Harvard-trained astrophysicists and a global tuberculosis expert, Bonds co-founded a nongovernmental organization (NGO), PIVOT. Its goal is to devise and test an affordable and effective health care system that could ultimately be scaled up to cover all of Madagascar and, perhaps, be adapted for other countries.Like Sachs and Farmer, Bonds and his colleagues at Boston-based PIVOT are convinced that the single interventions that capture most international dollars, such as bed nets for malaria or targeted HIV/AIDS programs, although essential, are simply not enough. In a place as broken as Madagascar, you must tackle the whole messy health system with all its moving parts. And that means sweating the small stuff along with the big—ensuring there are trained surgeons and essential medicines, but also such quotidian things as gas for the ambulances and a paycheck for the pharmacist. Maternal mortality per 100,000 2014 Ranomafana Email 75 At a gala event for SUNY Stony Brook donors, the couple was seated next to the guest of honor, actor Edward Norton, who helps run a conservation project with the Maasai in Kenya. They told him about their still-nascent idea of bringing health care to an isolated corner of Madagascar. “You’ve got to meet my brother-in-law,” responded Norton, who then introduced them by email to Bonds, who is married to Norton’s sister, Molly.Bonds, now 42 and still idealistic, inhabits two worlds, the cerebral and the practical. A theoretical modeler, he made a name for himself with Sachs for his work on how cycles of infectious disease keep people trapped in poverty, and he has spent much of his career since then parsing which of the two comes first. Farmer and PIH helped bring him down to Earth. “It was like jumping off a cliff. … There was nothing I had learned as an economist that shed light on what it actually takes to do stuff,” he recalls. Bonds was still living in Rwanda, where he was gearing up to analyze the data finally coming in to PIH, when the email from his brother-in-law arrived.Bonds said he was too busy to get involved but would be happy to advise the Herrnsteins if he could enlist Michael Rich, a physician at Harvard Medical School who designed the health project in Rwanda.Soon Bonds, Rich, and Jim Herrnstein were on a plane to Madagascar. They visited communities and toured health centers here, which were invariably depressing—dirty, poorly equipped, and distressingly empty. In one they saw a 6- or 7-year-old girl who was unconscious and near death. The health center lacked the intravenous malaria medicine Rich knew she needed, and her father could not afford $20 to rent a car to take her to the hospital 30 kilometers (km) away. Rich and her father rushed her there, only to find an empty emergency room and, again, no medicine. They drove to the nearest town and brought it back. The next day the girl had turned around. “It was dumb luck we were there and able to save her,” Rich says. “We thought, why not always be there?”In 2014, Rich and the three researchers founded PIVOT, with Bonds as CEO and director of research. Wright, Farmer, and Norton’s father, conservation lawyer Edward Norton, serve on the board. PIVOT’s first hire was Tara Loyd, a PIH veteran, who is now executive director. The Herrnsteins committed $5 million for the first 5 years. “The idea is we would give PIVOT a long runway,” Jim Herrnstein explains, “so they will not be overly distracted by fundraising.”Shocking baseline dataPIVOT’s office is a converted two-story stone house perched on a hill here a few minutes’ walk from downtown Ranomafana. Its entire canvas is the Delaware-size district of 200,000 people, an 11-hour drive from Madagascar’s brightly colored and terribly congested capital Antananarivo. Ifanadiana is dotted with some 1000 villages, with their distinctive houses of mud and thatch, connected by a maze of footpaths, and 14 towns. People here live off the land, and market stalls are piled high with pineapples, cassava, bananas, and rice.Before PIVOT started any interventions, the team set out to gather a detailed snapshot of the health and socioeconomic conditions in the district. What they found would guide their efforts and serve as a benchmark to measure progress—and might ultimately help make the case that their system-wide approach is effective.To design a baseline study, Bonds turned to his colleague, Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Ann Miller, who in turn teamed up with the National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) of Madagascar. In April and May 2014, five INSTAT teams conducted face-to-face interviews at 1522 households, visiting each one three times to try to catch everyone living there. As part of the ongoing longitudinal study, INSTAT revisits the same households every 2 years.The results were shocking. “We could see the district was poor, but we didn’t know how bad until we got the baseline data,” Miller says. In 2014, the study showed, one in seven children here never reached their fifth birthday. A woman faced a one in 14 risk of dying in childbirth. Both the maternal mortality and under-5 mortality rates were more than double the national estimate—and nearly twice as high as in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. 600 125 2017 Testing ground PIVOT started to work in communes along the paved road in Madagascar and plans to extend its activities to all of Ifanadiana district’s 14 communes by 2022. 0 Nurses at the Ranomafana health center monitor the growth of children for malnutrition. Km 2022 goal Pavedroad 2017 2020 target 2021–2022 target After being treated for severe malnutrition at Ifanadiana District Hospital, this girl is about to go home. 2014 2022 goal A. CUADRA AND N. DESAI/SCIENCE Perhaps PIVOT’s most important change was to remove all fees for patients at the three levels of care. Patients now receive medicines and treatment for free, and PIVOT reimburses the government. It is “incredibly cheap,” Bonds says, costing just $0.90 per patient at the health center, and $10 at the hospital. PIVOT did this largely “under the radar,” Loyd explains. “We didn’t say we were doing universal health care—that would have been too threatening” at the time, she says. “But as we removed the cost of care, that is what we have been doing.” Without PIVOT, Randrianambinina says, “the local people never would have been able to pay.”Then PIVOT focused on its first four communes of about 65,000 people, overhauling care at both the health centers and in the fokontany that feed into them. It plans to expand these efforts to all 14 by 2022.Just getting to the remote villages from the road is a challenge. On a scorching day last May, a PIVOT team reached one of them after a sweaty, 2-hour hike on a slippery, narrow footpath that snaked over hills and descended into gullies so deep the mud sloshed over the tops of our boots. The only way across the many streams was to clamber gingerly across fallen tree trunks. It’s hard to imagine how a woman in labor or someone feverish with pneumonia could make the trek to the health center. And many don’t.The two community health workers proudly show off their new one-room health post, painted cheerful blue and white. The health workers asked for someplace dignified to work, Bonds explains, so PIVOT supplies the building materials, and the community, the labor.PIVOT and the Ministry of Health have trained the health workers in an international protocol for diagnosing and treating major childhood maladies. They now screen every child for malnutrition. Supervisors, a nurse or a midwife, visit each health post every 2 or 3 months to make sure the health workers are following the protocol correctly and provide refresher courses if not. They also collect the ledgers in which the health workers meticulously record each visit, test given, and drug dispensed—data that are fed into PIVOT’s voluminous data base. Those data show that in the past 2 years alone, the number of sick children treated by the community health workers doubled. The main reason, the health workers say, is that care is now free.But the people want more. As we are leaving, the village leader pulls Bonds aside and says the community wants a mobile clinic to visit once a month, a service PIVOT has provided in some villages. Bonds is sympathetic, but for now, PIVOT’s hands are tied. The group has persuaded the government to provide clinics for villages 10 km or more from a health center, but this one is 9 km.The group has also retooled the dysfunctional commune health centers. “This place used to look like a bombshell,” Bonds says, gesturing around the Ranomafana health center, the first of the four to be upgraded. “People only came if they were deathly ill.” PIVOT plastered and painted, added plumbing and latrines, and carted in solar panels. Today, the center is bustling, seeing 50 to 100 patients a day. Before PIVOT, there were two staff members. Now, there are 10 clinicians and two support staff.Each health center now runs an outpatient feeding and treatment program for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), which can quickly become fatal. Each case triggers a home visit from the social team. “One case of SAM is an indicator of more suffering,” Loyd explains.The maternity wards have also been transformed. “Before, if you asked to see them, someone would have pointed you to a rusty bed with no mattress and no sterilized equipment,” Loyd says. “Now, there is a real bed, with a mosquito net. Women have a place to sleep and recover with some dignity. There is a shower and food.” When we visit one such ward, three young women are resting in bed with their swaddled newborns. They say they are thrilled with the care, but they also mention that the staff asked them for “a small gift.” There is clearly more work to do.Glitches aside, in PIVOT’s first 2 years, the number of women delivering babies in health care facilities jumped 63%. Use of health centers for most other types of care tripled.center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A prescription for Madagascar’s broken health system: data and a focus on details At the Ifanadiana District Hospital—the third tier of the district’s health system—a tiny girl with enormous eyes shyly follows the visitors around the new malnutrition ward. She’s a big success story: Admitted 21 days ago, she is almost ready to go home. PIVOT managed to convince a skeptical government that malnutrition was so severe that the hospital needed a dedicated ward. “We showed them the data,” Loyd recalls.In other ways, however, the Ifanadiana District Hospital has proved more recalcitrant. “The hospital is a puzzle to me—why the beds are not filled,” Loyd says. PIVOT has built housing so that family members no longer have to sleep outside, renovated the emergency room, and built an isolation ward and a sophisticated diagnostic lab. Between 2014 and 2017, the number of hospital visits surged from 3116 to 5994. Yet still far too few patients come, and when they do, they often come too late or leave too early. “We thought [after removing fees] we would be scrambling for space, two people to a bed,” Loyd says. “Instead, we have two or three people in a ward that can hold 10. … Is it something in the system? The quality of care?”To Loyd, “The problems are all about remoteness and how to build trust in a system where people traditionally went to die. … Rebuilding trust takes years.” Another factor, says PIVOT Country Director Mohammed Ali Ouenzar, is the rural population’s long reliance on traditional healers and ancestral medicine.The next day, Fara Rabemananjara, who heads PIVOT’s team of social workers, takes us to visit a child who left the hospital too early. Three-year-old Charlindo had been admitted 4 months earlier with SAM and fever. His young mother brought him home before he finished treatment—possibly because the family had to work the cassava fields 16 km away. He was admitted again with SAM, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and severe pneumonia. Recently discharged, the boy is getting weekly checkups at the hospital and at home.The tiny wooden shack where he lives with his mother, grandmother, and three other children is a short walk through an alley, where the stench of sewage is unavoidable. All six family members share one bed, and the family ekes out a living on $2 to $3 a day.Rabemananjara says she is thrilled with how well the boy looks—he has gained almost 1 kilogram since the last visit. To those who haven’t seen him before, however, he looks anything but well. He is stick thin and, more troubling, lacks eye contact and any expression.Intractable geographyPIVOT published the results of its longitudinal assessment, chronicling progress between 2014 and 2016, in June 2018 in BMJ Global Health, 1 month after a study from PIH documenting the impact of its Rwanda program between 2005 to 2010. Bonds and Rich, coauthors on both papers, argue in an editorial that the two projects provide some of the strongest evidence yet that strengthening the health system, rather than taking the piecemeal approach that donors favor, can go far in improving the health of the entire population.In the area where PIH worked in Rwanda, under-5 mortality fell nearly 13% per year between 2005 and 2010. During PIVOT’s first 2 years, the annual decline was almost 9%. These gains were achieved at a cost of just $30 per capita, despite Madagascar’s low economic growth, political volatility, corruption, and scanty health spending. That, say Bonds and Rich, is proof that the Rwanda experiment is indeed replicable in less fortunate places. Bonds says: “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere.” A data-driven prescription for Madagascar’s broken health system 10 PIVOT researchers are now analyzing the results from year four. They expect to see a steady, positive trend. But as they put a finer lens on the data, they are finding that one problem has remained intractable: geography. “We have a large impact on people who live within 5 km of a health center, but a much smaller impact on people 5 to 10 km from a health center, and zero over 15 km,” Bonds says.The solution, PIVOT leaders say, is to bring more health services to the remote communities rather than the other way around. But they face two huge obstacles: Under the national health strategy, community health workers are unpaid volunteers, and they are not allowed to treat anyone over age 5—the rest must somehow make their way to a health center. “We are leaving the remote population behind,” Bonds says. “Kids 6 or 7 are not getting treated and not making the trek. Why can’t we treat a 6-year-old with malaria?” And, he adds, “You can’t have untrained volunteers be the basis of your health system.”Global momentum is building to strengthen community health worker programs and ensure they are paid a decent salary. At a United Nations–sponsored meeting in October 2018 in Astana, Kazakhstan, World Health Organization member states committed to provide primary care for their citizens. Governments would be hard-pressed to foot the bill, but PIVOT and others believe the international community can help.To see what is possible, PIVOT is piloting a new community health worker program in one of the 14 communes. “We want to get people better trained and pay them more—to professionalize them, so their scope of work can grow a lot” and they can treat older children and adults as well, Bonds says. Recently, the Malagasy government asked PIVOT to be the public face of its new push for universal health coverage, holding up Ifanadiana as a model for the nation. “The scaling up of PIVOT’s effective and efficient intervention is a model for our journey towards universal health coverage,” said then–Minister of Health Yoel Rantomalala.PIVOT continues to expand. Since 2014, PIVOT’s staff has grown to 182, 171 of them Malagasy, making it the largest health NGO in Madagascar. It is now covering about 95,000 people in seven communes—including Ambohimanga du Sud, reachable by an 8-hour tractor ride from Ranomafana—and is moving into its eighth. “The general idea,” Loyd says, “is to remain nimble, keep a presence in Ifanadiana, and try to bring health care to the rest of the island. … We’ve got 24 million [people] to go.”The group’s yearly budget has swelled to $4 million, and other funders have come on board. The Herrnsteins remain the largest donor, and say they are in it for the long haul. Robin Herrnstein says, “We have no exit plan and no plan to have one.” 2022 goal In 2014, 81% of births took place at home, well above the national average of 57%—and only 20% were assisted by a trained midwife. Women here had an average of 6.9 children, as opposed to about five countrywide. Just one-third of children over age 2 were fully vaccinated. And although food scarcity is not considered a problem here, half the children were stunted, 21% severely so.“Not rocket science”When PIVOT started to work in the fall of 2014, it found a health system in tatters. A national plan calls for a three-tier system. For each fokontany, a cluster of remote villages with about 1000 people, the plan specifies two volunteer health workers. Each commune (there are 14 here) is supposed to have a primary health center staffed with three clinicians—a doctor, a nurse, and a midwife—as well as a pharmacy and a maternity ward, serving about 15,000. There is one hospital for the entire district. But when PIVOT arrived, almost none of that was functioning.In the fokontany, community health workers were an infrequent presence at best, with little training and minimal or no supervision or support. The crumbling commune health centers looked like Soviet-era prisons and were about one-third staffed. If a patient made the long walk from the village and was lucky enough to find the center open, it was likely out of drugs because the pharmacist hadn’t been paid and hadn’t shown up. And the hospital, Bonds says, “was where you went to die.”PIVOT’s strategy is to work with the government to shore up its system rather than impose its own vision of what a model health system should look like. That means, as much as possible, following government policies, although 4 years in project leaders are chafing at those limits.”It’s not rocket science,” Robin Herrnstein says. “The biggest problems [killing children] are acute respiratory infections, malaria, and diarrhea. They are simple to treat. But you have to implement them all in one setting, and the second one piece breaks, you are done.”PIVOT made some district-wide changes right away—for example, hiring doctors and other staff at the 13 health centers and the hospital and training them in everything from obstetrics to infection control. Without PIVOT’s intervention, “the health centers would be closed,” says Andriamihaja Randrianambinina, who oversees health care here. They added an ambulance system and a team of social workers to help patients navigate the unfamiliar health system. The group also set up its extensive monitoring and evaluation program, collecting data from every remote health post, commune health center, and the hospital on every patient seen and cent spent. 2 2014 2019 target 2014 So far, so good Key population health indicators for Ifanadiana district in Madagascar show progress toward ambitious goals. 2022 goal Percentage covered by PIVOT intervention He was still young and idealistic when, at age 32, he went to Rwanda to join Harvard University’s Paul Farmer, whose work with Partners In Health (PIH) was immortalized in Tracy Kidder’s book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. In Haiti, Farmer and PIH co-founder Jim Yong Kim pioneered an innovative approach to bring health care to people who had nothing. Now, PIH was helping the Rwandan government rebuild its health system, which had been shattered by the 1994 genocide. Unpavedroad Lifetime fertility rate N. DESAI/SCIENCE PIVOT co-founder Robin Herrnstein visits with Malagasy children. A PIVOT team heads to a remote village on a rugged footpath, across many streams and through muddy gullies—the only way to reach most villages in Madagascar. 60 RIJASOLO RIJASOLO 200 Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Country Director Mohammed Ali Ouenzar and co-founders Jim Herrnstein, Matt Bonds, and Michael Rich (left to right) inspect the ledgers at a local health post as part of PIVOT’s intense focus on data. Other health system efforts are also underway. But PIVOT’s almost obsessive focus on data sets it apart. PIVOT has been collecting mounds of it from day one, starting with a baseline study of 8000 people, with follow-ups every 2 years, and a monitoring and evaluation program that tracks more than 860 indicators so the team can document what works, fix what doesn’t, and create a model health system that others can replicate.”We wanted it to be done in a scientifically rigorous way,” says Jim Herrnstein, the astrophysicist who, with his astrophysicist wife Robin, are two of the four co-founders of PIVOT and the group’s biggest donors. “This is not a vision of rainbows and ponies.””The degree to which PIVOT measures and holds themselves accountable for impact is remarkable and unusual,” says Peter Small, head of the Global Health Institute at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Stony Brook. And so far, it seems to be paying off. In a paper last spring, PIVOT researchers reported that in just 2 years, under-5 mortality in their pilot area dropped nearly 20% and neonatal mortality fell 36%—results Small calls “impressive.” The analysis has also revealed where improvements have been less dramatic, which has prompted PIVOT to rethink some strategies.With its focus on data and evaluation, “PIVOT is really doing this right,” says Katherine Burke, deputy director of Stanford University’s Center for Innovation in Global Health in Palo Alto, California. “It is addressing all the failures in global health pilot projects.”Stunning beauty, abject povertyThe name Madagascar conjures up images of lush rainforests, ring-tailed lemurs with their impossibly shiny eyes, and chameleons of ever-changing hues. The island is indeed magical, among the hottest of all biodiversity hot spots with as much as 90% of its species found nowhere else on Earth.Yet this biological richness obscures the desperate conditions in this country of 24 million. At least 90% of the original forest is gone, and 90% of Malagasy people live on less than $2 a day. Just 11% of the rural population has access to an improved latrine; 34% to clean water, according to UNICEF. No wonder diarrhea is one of the top killers of children, along with pneumonia and malaria. Malnutrition rates are the fourth highest in the world.Forgotten diseases take a heavy toll: schistosomiasis, filariasis, leprosy, even plague, the Black Death of the Middle Ages, which returns like clockwork every fall—last year in the most fearsome outbreak ever. 1000 By Leslie RobertsFeb. 28, 2019 , 2:00 PM 100 6 20 Madagascar Ranomafana RIJASOLO 2018 last_img read more

  • Artificial intelligence could revolutionize medical care But dont trust it to read

    first_imgScientists are developing a multitude of artificial intelligence algorithms to help radiologists, like this one that lights up likely pneumonia in the lungs. By Jennifer Couzin-FrankelJun. 17, 2019 , 12:45 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to upend the practice of medicine, boosting the efficiency and accuracy of diagnosis in specialties that rely on images, such as radiology and pathology. But as the technology gallops ahead, experts are grappling with its potential downsides. “Just working with the technology, I see lots of ways it can fail,” says Albert Hsiao, a radiologist at the University of California, San Diego, who has developed algorithms for reading cardiac images and improving their quality. One major concern: Most AI software is designed and tested in one hospital, and it risks faltering when transferred to another.Last month in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, U.S. government scientists, regulators, and doctors published a road map describing how to convert research-based AI into improved medical imaging on patients. Among other things, the authors urged more collaboration across disciplines in building and testing AI algorithms, and intensive validation of algorithms before they reach patients. For now, Hsiao says, “I would want a human physician no matter what,” even if a machine hums alongside.Most AI in medicine is used in research, but regulators have already approved some algorithms for radiologists. Physicians are also developing their own—which they’re permitted to use without regulatory approval as long as companies aren’t marketing the new technology. Studies are testing algorithms to read x-rays, detect brain bleeds, pinpoint tumors, and more. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Artificial intelligence could revolutionize medical care. But don’t trust it to read your x-ray just yet Albert Hsiao and Brian Hurt/UC San Diego AiDA Laboratory Email The algorithms learn as scientists feed them hundreds or thousands of images—of mammograms, for example—training the technology to recognize patterns faster and more accurately than a human could. “If I’m doing an MRI of a moving heart, I can have the computer predict where the heart’s going to be in the next fraction of a second and get a better picture instead of a blurry” one, says Krishna Kandarpa, a cardiovascular and interventional radiologist at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering in Bethesda, Maryland. Or AI might analyze computerized tomography heads scans of suspected strokes, label those more likely to harbor a brain bleed, and put them on top of the pile for the radiologist to examine. An algorithm could help spot breast tumors in mammograms that a radiologist’s eyes risk missing.But Eric Oermann, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, has explored one downside of the algorithms: The signals they recognize can have less to do with disease than with other patient characteristics, the brand of MRI machine, or even how a scanner is angled. With colleagues, Oermann developed a mathematical model for detecting patterns consistent with pneumonia and trained it with x-rays from patients at Mount Sinai. The hospital has a busy intensive care unit with many elderly people, who are often admitted with pneumonia; 34% of the Mount Sinai x-rays came from infected patients.When the algorithm was tested on a different batch of Mount Sinai x-rays it performed admirably, accurately detecting pneumonia 93% of the time. But Oermann also tested it on tens of thousands of images from two other sites: the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda and the Indiana Network for Patient Care. With x-rays from those locations—where pneumonia rates just squeaked past 1%—the success rate fell, ranging from 73% to 80%, the team reported last year in PLOS Medicine. “It didn’t work as well because the patients at the other hospitals were different,” Oermann says.At Mount Sinai, many of the infected patients were too sick to get out of bed, and so doctors used a portable chest x-ray machine. Portable x-ray images look very different from those created when a patient is standing up. Because of what it learned from Mount Sinai’s x-rays, the algorithm began to associate a portable x-ray with illness. It also anticipated a high rate of pneumonia.Few multisite studies like Oermann’s have been published, and last month’s road map deemed this worrying. This year, a South Korean team reported in the Korean Journal of Radiology an analysis of 516 studies of AI algorithms designed to interpret medical images. The authors found that just 6% of the studies tested their algorithm at more than one hospital. “It’s very concerning,” says Elaine Nsoesie, a computational epidemiologist at Boston University who wasn’t involved in the work. Even the brand of scanner matters, as the pixel pattern can vary, disrupting how AI assesses the image.One way to avoid this pitfall, Nsoesie says, is to test an algorithm using data from several hospitals. Researchers are starting to do this, she says, “but less than you would think.” A rare example is an algorithm first trained and tested on data at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California, and Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. It’s now undergoing testing in a clinical trial on scans from nine sites. The software measures skeletal maturity in hand x-rays, which orthopedists use to guide treatment for growth disorders in children and teenagers.In another field that relies on images, pathology, Jeroen van der Laak, a computer scientist at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, tried a new way to encourage researchers to test their algorithms across hospitals: a competition. In 2015, van der Laak gathered and digitized 400 lymph node slides from breast cancer patients at two Dutch centers. Then, he invited all comers to train their algorithm on 270 of those slides and test it on the remaining 130, to see whether it could do better than pathologists hunting for tiny cancers. Twenty-three teams submitted 32 algorithms.The results, published in 2017 in JAMA, showed that 10 matched or exceeded a panel of 11 pathologists. The top-performing algorithm, from a group at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, matched a pathologist who took an entire weekend to go over 130 slides. “To actually see that you could be as good as a pathologist” was “a shock,” van der Laak says. He and others say that to achieve that kind of accuracy, AI algorithms should train on data that are diverse not only in their hospital of origin but also in racial and geographic diversity, because disease can manifest differently across populations.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to weigh how to assess algorithms for patient care. The agency considers “locked” AI software, which is unchanging, as a medical device. But earlier this year, it announced it was developing a framework for regulating more cutting-edge AI software that continues to learn over time. Still, there “are major questions everyone is struggling with” around regulation, says Hugo Aerts, who directs the computational imaging and bioinformatics laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. What if developers update an algorithm that works in 96% of cases to achieve a 99% success rate; do they have to go through the regulatory process again? What if an approved algorithm is applied to a patient population it wasn’t originally tested on?FDA has already issued some approvals. One algorithm, created by Hsiao, measures heart size and blood flow in a cardiac MRI. Hsiao was frustrated that analyzing the data by hand took at least 6 hours, so he returned to his roots as a computer science major and wrote his own software. He subsequently formed a company, Arterys, based in San Francisco, California, and won FDA approval in about 6 months, he says. Hsiao is now working on algorithms to make it easier to pick up pneumonia by mapping its likely location in the lungs.But, he says, the doctor, not the machine, is still the boss and entitled to override the technology. “If I think it’s not pneumonia,” Hsiao says, “it’s not.”last_img read more

  • How reindeer evolved to survive freezing Arctic winters

    first_img Email How reindeer evolved to survive freezing Arctic winters By Elizabeth PennisiJun. 20, 2019 , 2:00 PM Santa’s warm workshop is nothing like the cold, often-dark Arctic where reindeer really live. Above the Arctic Circle, temperatures can drop as low as –67°C and darkness can last nearly the entire day. Now, a new study reveals how reindeer have evolved to cope with these tough conditions.To look for the genes that let Santa’s helpers survive scarce food and months without daylight, researchers took advantage of a massive effort to sequence the genomes of reindeer and 43 other ruminants, including cows, sheep, and camels. They compared the reindeer’s genes for various traits to the same genes in several other mammals.One improvement: Compared with other mammals, the reindeer are much more efficient in their use of vitamin D. That isn’t a complete surprise, scientists say, because reindeer need lots of vitamin D—created during sun exposure—to build their bony antlers, which even females shed and regrow every year. To overcome the winter sunlight shortfall, mutations in two of the 28 genes used to synthesize and process vitamin D make the process up to 20 times more efficient, researchers report today in Science.   Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Juergen Ritterbach/Alamy Stock Photo Because the amount of sunlight varies so much so far north, reindeer seem to have lost the biological clock that makes humans and other animals active by day and sleepy by night. Compared with other mammals, reindeer have genetic changes that “short-circuit” their clocks, disrupting the ability of one key clock protein to interact with another. This finding could help researchers unravel disorders that involve disrupted biological clocks, such as insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, and perhaps even depression.Other mutations in the reindeer genome, some of which are present in polar bears and Adélie penguins, improve fat use, fat transport, and the building of fat reserves. This discovery, the scientists say, could improve the understanding of fat accumulation and transport in people. It also goes to show that maybe those reindeer don’t need Santa’s help, after all.*Correction, 24 June, 9:50 a.m.: The number of genes used to synthesize and process vitamin D has been corrected.last_img read more

  • Corn and other important crops can now be gene edited by pollen

    first_img By Jon CohenMar. 4, 2019 , 11:00 AM J. Cohen/Science Corn and other important crops can now be gene edited by pollen carrying CRISPR Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country A team of researchers led by plant biologists Timothy Kelliher and Qiudeng Que of Syngenta in Durham, North Carolina, fashioned a way around this problem by exploiting an odd phenomenon known as haploid induction, which allows pollen to fertilize plants without permanently transferring “male” genetic material to offspring. The newly created plants only have a female set of chromosomes—making them haploid instead of the traditional diploid. Haploid induction by itself can lead to increased breeding efficiency and higher yielding plants.Syngenta initially took advantage of a corn line that can be transformed with CRISPR with relative ease using the bacteria or gene gun technology, and that has a crippled version of a gene, MATRILINEAL, making its pollen able to trigger haploid induction. The researchers transformed this corn line with a gRNA/Cas9 combinations programmed to target genes related to different desirable traits. The pollen of these transformed plants could then spread the gRNA and Cas9 editing machinery to other corn varieties that had been recalcitrant to CRISPR.“The key innovation is using haploid inducer pollen as a sort of Trojan Horse,” says Kelliher, whose Syngenta-led team describes the system today in Nature Biotechnology. There is also some evidence, they say, that the CRISPR-carrying corn pollen can edit the DNA of wheat. The researchers further devised a second CRISPR system for Arabidopsis, a genus of plants related to cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.“It is a brilliant piece of work,” says plant biologist Luca Comai at the University of California, Davis. “It is imaginative by combining two technologies: haploid induction and genome editing.” (Comai notes his lab has received small amounts of funding from Syngenta.)This haploid induction-edit (HI-edit), as Syngenta calls the CRISPR pollen method, has only been done so far in laboratories. But scientists say that if it were done in the field, the changes wouldn’t spread because the male genome in the pollen—which carries the CRISPR apparatus—disappears shortly after fertilization. “The CRISPR machinery gets lost—it’s transient delivery,” Que says. And because the method doesn’t involve putting the CRISPR genes into the DNA of the resulting crops, they likely wouldn’t qualify as genetically modified under current U.S. regulations, making it easier to obtain regulatory approval for selling the crops.Plant researcher Gao Caixia at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing says HI-edit will be especially useful in high-yielding commercial varieties of corn known as elites. “Corn is so important,” Gao says. “All the companies are working on it, and every year there are so many new varieties. And to deliver CRISPR to a new variety is not an easy job.”Gao notes there are other ways to improve CRISPR’s success in recalcitrant plants, including a technology described 2 years ago by DuPont Pioneer researchers that overexpresses two genes that affect early embryo development. “So [HI-edit] is not the only solution, but it’s a smart one,” Gao says. Syngenta researcher Shujie Dong isolates corn embryos to genome edit them with CRISPR. The genome editor CRISPR has transformed many areas of biology, but using this tool to enhance certain varieties of crops such as wheat and corn remains difficult because of the plants’ tough cell walls. Now, a major agricultural company has creatively solved that problem by using pollen from one genetically modified plant to carry CRISPR’s components into another plant’s cells. The solution promises to speed the creation of better and more versatile crops, scientists say.In its initial experiments, the company has edited varieties of corn to have more or heavier kernels, which could make them higher yielding. “Nice!” says Daniel Voytas, a plant biologist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul who helped invent a different genome editor and co-founded another company to exploit it. “It’s exciting that an increasing number of research groups—both in academia and industry—are thinking of new ways to deliver gene-editing [components] and to efficiently recover gene-edited plants.”CRISPR consists of enzymatic scissors called Cas9 that a guide made from RNA shuttles to an exact place in a genome. Because plant cells have an extra-rigid wall compared with animal cells, it’s more difficult for CRISPR’s Cas9 and the guide RNA (gRNA) to reach their genomes and make edits. So researchers have had to splice those CRISPR genes into a bacterium that can breach the plant cell wall or put them on gold particles and shoot them in with what’s known as a gene gun. Not only is this inelegant, it also doesn’t work in many plant species, including important crop varieties.last_img read more