Exposure to artificial light weakens rodents’ muscles and bones, but risks to people are less clear.
Rebecca Boyle 14 July 2016
Eliane Lucassen works the night shift at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, beginning her day at 6 p.m. Yet her own research has shown that this schedule might cause her health problems. “It’s funny,” the medical resident says. “Here I am, spreading around that it’s actually unhealthy. But it needs to be done.”
Lucassen and Johanna Meijer, a neuroscientist at Leiden, report today in Current Biology1 that a constant barrage of bright light prematurely ages mice, playing havoc with their circadian clocks and causing a cascade of health problems. Mice exposed to constant light experienced bone-density loss, skeletal-muscle weakness and inflammation; restoring their health was as simple as turning the lights off. The findings are preliminary, but they suggest that people living in cities flooded with artificial light may face similar health risks.
“We came to know that smoking was bad, or that sugar is bad, but light was never an issue,” says Meijer. “Light and darkness matter.”
Disrupted patterns Many previous studies have hinted at a connection between artificial light exposure and health problems in animals and people2. Epidemiological analyses have found that shift workers have an increased risk of breast cancer3, metabolic syndrome4 and osteoporosis5, 6. People exposed to bright light at night are more likely to have cardiovascular disease and often don’t get enough sleep.
Yet drawing a direct link between light exposure and poor health has been difficult. Meijer’s group explored this relationship in mice by implanting electrodes in the part of the animals’ brains that controls their body clocks, to measure the activity of neurons there. The scientists then housed the mice in brightly lit cages for 24 weeks.
The animals had bedding to make nests, could move freely and were able to close their eyes when they slept. But sleeping mice couldn't avoid the light entirely, and still got about one-seventh of the light exposure that they did while awake. Overall, the animals were exposed to more light than they would get in a typical light–dark cycle.
In response, the mice’s neuronal activity patterns shifted, leaving cells in the brain’s pacemaker region pulsing irregularly. This loss of synchronization mirrors what happens in ageing brains.
The mice also adopted a 25.5-hour day, lost bone density and had weaker muscles, as measured by how strongly they could grip with their forelimbs. After the researchers restored darkness, the mice's neurons returned to their normal rhythms and the animals reverted to a 24-hour day. Bright lights, big impact The analysis takes an innovative approach to studying circadian biology in mice, says Richard Stevens, an epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington who studies the effect of light on cancer. But he says that the findings may not apply to people. The bright lights foisted on the mice were more dramatic than the light–dark cycles that people would experience in real life, even in extreme situations.
“The next experiment ought to be something like 12 hours of light, 6 hours of dim light and 6 hours of dark. That would be the kind of exposure that humans would have,” Stevens says. And disruption of the biological clock alone might not cause the health effects reported in the study, says Steven Lockley, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Poor sleep and light itself can each affect health, so an altered circadian clock may not be to blame. But Meijer says the study should be a warning to people who work in intensive-care facilities or long-term care facilities, and to shift workers — such as her former student, Lucassen.
An atlas of artificial light pollution released in June showed that two-thirds of the world’s population is exposed to light at night. Also last month, the American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health called for a reduction in bright artificial light, citing evidence that it may increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Meijer now plans to examine how light affects the immune system, and she wants to repeat her neuron-monitoring study with grass rats, which are active during the day (unlike standard lab mice). She remains fascinated by the circadian system.
“There is no other region of the brain we know so much about,” Meijer says. “It has been a beautiful model for neuroscience research. But only in the last five to seven years have we realized it is also essential for health.”
If the CIA had a crystal ball, then they would probably not be routinely blindsided by world events. Lacking such a device, the agency has endured notable analytical failures. During the early 1990s, sudden collapses of Somalia, Zaire, Rwanda, and the Soviet Union seemingly appeared without warning.
Strategic surprises have always been a problem for intelligence agencies. The material impossibility of having eyes everywhere requires making judgments without seeing a complete picture, let alone the future. Assessing the likeliness of future rare political events has had dubious reliability.
Thus, in 1994, the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence commissioned the Political Instability Task Force (PITF), formerly known as the State Failure Task Force, a clairvoyant-esque squad of social-scientist brainiacs charged with churning global political data into global instability forecasts.
The creation of the PITF began at end of the Cold War. The PITF's mission is straightforward — make intelligence analysis as holistic as possible, and locate where the next crisis might be, and why.
"The collapse of the Soviet Union completely caught the government off guard. Their models didn't capture that at all. [Their models] didn't even accept it," Monty Marshall, a senior consultant for the PITF and director of the Center for Systemic Peace told War Is Boring.
"The intelligence community was looking for alternative explanations," he added. "The old way of thinking, wasn't catching the new dynamics, trends, that don't fit into the way they understand things."
To meet this task, the team recruited from American academia and included leading political scientists, sociologists and methodologists. In the beginning, they focused on variables as broad as environmental degradation and social conflict. The focus later shifted to cover four main topics — revolutionary and ethnic civil war onset, adverse regime change, state collapse, and genocide.
PITF calculates each event's chance of occurring with probabilistic forecasts from six months to two years out, in 167 countries, which the team monitors on a daily basis. Within every country, the PITF's global model accounts for baseline political dynamics, and disruptions in patterns within these dynamics.
The results of the forecasts hold impressive heuristic accuracy. "[With] what this approach can do — probabilistic models — they're stuck at about 80 percent accuracy. That's good. That's why we're still around," Marshall said.
In addition to accurate forecasting, the PITF's reports inform the intelligence community and U.S. policymakers. According to Marshall, the PITF's reports are used mainly for the National Intelligence Council's annual intelligence estimates.
Interestingly, the relationship between military coups and civil wars are closer than previously thought. According to the PITF's data, government officials will often resort to regime change as a tactic to prevent civil war from occurring.
Thai troops on the streets during the 2010 political crisis | (Null0/Flickr photo/Courtesy of War is Boring)
"A relatively strong government will try [a military coup] to avoid a conflict dynamic that would otherwise lead to civil war," Marshall said. "Sometimes they are successful at averting civil war and sometimes they are not."
"We discovered that the lead indicator was an obscure variable in the data, which we call factionalism," he added. "That is the most powerful driver in the global model, and the most powerful driver at predicting regime change."
Considering this finding regarding "factionalism" — or oppositional groups that are close to a nation's leader — could affect analysis of autocratic regimes around the world, including dangerous ones to international security such as Syria, North Korea, and Iran.
"Regime change" as a topic of forecasting is not limited to the PITF's current global model. Jay Ulfelder, former director of the PITF, currently runs a semi-yearly “Coup Forecasts” analysis with his own predictive model, quantifying the likeliness of coup attempts around the world.
"Over the past few years, most coup attempts have happened in countries in the top 30 on my risk assessments, and often in ones pretty close to the top of those lists," Ulfeder told War Is Boring via email. "Burkina Faso was fifth with a predicted probability of about 15 percent, and Burundi was 26th with a predicted probability of about 5 percent."
Burkina Faso and Burundi experienced coup attempts in 2015. If his last forecasts, quantified in 2014, still hold probabilistic weight today, then political analysts should keep an eye on Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Equatorial-Guinea, and Niger — the most likely places for military coups, according to the data.
Ulfelder's focus on military coups are due to the relative accuracy in predicting them, as opposed to other types of upheaval.
"Topics like social unrest and the onset of insurgencies have turned out to be harder to forecast well," he added. "So progress has been uneven."
Despite the useful applications of the PITF, the relationship between academically inclined forecasters and government consumers has not been without problems.
The academics at PITF seek to improve their social science craft and the expand the furthering of knowledge, while their spy handlers seek quick answers — which the project is not fully suited to provide.
Predicting world politics "is a superficial understanding of it, but that's what the government wants," Marshall said. "They're still working hard, and they can't get it. We were looking at our understanding of how things work, whereas the intelligence community was looking for something to you know, give them the answers."
"A cheat sheet, mainly."
This misunderstanding of what predictive modeling is supposed frustrates Ulfelder as well. Trends point where to look, not what will happen.
"Most of the phenomena studied by social scientists are inherently hard to predict well," Ulfelder said. "Making a probabilistic forecast is more about trying to quantify our uncertainty than it is about presuming we can be 'right' all the time."
Furthermore, the focus of the intelligence community on data-driven forecasts has resulted in more quantitative methodologists — rather than more social scientists — being added to the PITF team. This shift, according to Marshall, has become problematic.
"The analysts can't inform the policy community if they get all of their information from the machine. They have to understand the politics that go into the machine."
Marshall maintains there should be an emphasis on the human elements of forecasting. "There are almost infinite combinations of variables to use in the model. The results are mainly noise, and to identity the signal is the job of the analyst — to separate that from the noise."
In this vein, the CIA pursues other, more mechanized forecast projects seeking to further automate global trend-casting. The Lockheed Martin managed Integrated Crisis Early Warning System (ICEWS) derives its abilities from "Big Data," tapping into the new availability of open source materials provided principally by the Internet.
A Ghanaian peacekeeper in Liberia | (U.N. photo/Courtesy of War is Boring)
But even Big Data methods are far from infallible.
"It's like watching a river evolve, only with geological time sped up to real time," Ulfelder noted. "So how do you design a process to turn all that information into data, and then learn things from those data, that isn't already broken as soon as you finish designing it?"
Beyond searching for work-arounds of the social science aspects of PITF, the CIA is interested in removing humans from the equation altogether. "They are furiously working away to find a mechanical way to replace me," Marshall said. "I can't blame them."
"What makes the intelligence handlers most uncomfortable is that I supply almost all the data that runs their models."
While deliberation over what directions the PITF should take will continue, both political scientists are confident in the nature of their work, and the need for more like it. The scholars even have philanthropic forecasting projects that use predictive modeling for humanitarian work.
Ulfelder is a consultant at the Center for the Prevention of Genocide, where he designs, builds, and advises on the operation and development of a public early warning system to prevent mass atrocities around the world.
AI Weatherforcasting all have their hiccups..albeit a confused driverless car, plane or drone will certainly be stark reminders nothing is ever 100 percent..
« Last Edit: Jul 15th, 2016, 10:16pm by Sys_Config »
Remember, Dick Allgire drew the sketch above during a Remote Viewing session two months ago.
Well, to me this could be any stretch of beach by a populated area. The word nice used as an adjective in the drawing having a connection to Nice, France is a stretch as well, similar to a cold reading hit technique. I'm not impressed with it. If it showed a large white truck I'd place it into the class of an interesting coincidence. As is, I'm hard pressed to even call it a coincidence. A person can sketch a scene and on any given day find some connection to something somewhere because the number of available matches is huge and ripe for data mining after the fact. There is no time limit and that gives endless match opportunities.
I could find very little about the circumstances behind this sketch. A visit to Dick Allaire's Facebook page shows a teaser to the Orlando incident being seen(predicted?):
Remote Viewing The Orlando Massacre Before It Happened Stay tuned for Daz Smith's work on the Time-Cross project, which will be published soon.
This suggests to me what I mention above about data and coincidence mining. That the Nice France event is next is not surprising. He seems to be a remote viewer with a psychic twist routine. Double the fun and probably BS.
Maybe the Turkey Coup will be next. Of course, not until it's confirmed it failed. Would not want to be premature and get it wrong.
Trump looking at eclipse w/out eyewear was “perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.”
@ Ed we should not be so hasty and rush to judgement. if we anal yze the coincidences Ed we can understand the whole better! Then we can get more than mere lucky shots in the dark. I have circled what appears to be the lorry/unfrozen ice cream truck in faint green so as not to damage the picture. No doubt in my mind thats what it is..there are other items such as that dronish sun to upper left..and far right at six oclock near the food and cafe I can clearly make out some animal..unremarkable of course..animals will be found near food and cafes..we can argue till the sun goes down..it looks like the UCB cafe.lets concede its not..on the whole ..proof positive of remote predictive imaging and that some power is messing with time..or the matrix..or worse..us! Simply astounding to me how he did it and evidence that clearly establishes something elseis at work here and that with practice..we can gain access to it!
You be the judge
« Last Edit: Jul 16th, 2016, 12:30pm by Sys_Config »
@ Ed we should not be so hasty and rush to judgement. ........ You be the judge
Sys, you know you may be right and you often are. I may have been hasty so I looked more closely at this drawing and I am shocked by what I see after only spending a couple of minutes in deep concentration!
A. The JFK assassination. Shown is the limo, motorcycle escort, people on the grassy knoll and until now never before known a helicopter with the words shooters next to it cleverly disguised as the word scooters. JFK was shot by a sniper in a helicopter.
B. Victor Barrio Bullfighter scene showing what really happened that caused him to be gorged to death by an enraged bull. The bull is to the bottom left, Barrio in the middle and a before unseen 3rd person behind him taunting the bull by flapping his arms and throwing insults. This 3rd person is some fool and indicated as such by the cryptic word food next to him.
C. All the missing airplanes and those shot down under mysterious circumstances are represented by this plane flying through the air. These are all fakes because that word below it is not meant to mean cafes.
I had to stop looking at this drawing because I am getting scared by what it is revealing. I was tempted to zoom in to the sub pixel level but then I thought of the drone saga and the secrets uncovered by that technique. This drawing and I'm sure others like it are like a Rosetta Stone of Unknown Knowledge!
Trump looking at eclipse w/out eyewear was “perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.”
OMG..the horse is gone! that is scary! I swear on a stack of sticky notes I didnt put him there! If you printed this out and taped it to wall..it could open a portal. but I would hate to wind up inside the Dallas book repository, Nice France... or worse ..on flight mh370 I will follow your sage advice and drop this before something crazy happens. It was more fun watching Swamps weather maps.
GOVERNMENT CHIEF'S DEATH BED CONFESSION: 'I was shown inside alien UFO at Area 51'
A FORMER government emergency expert made a detailed death bed confession of how he was shown inside an alien flying saucer at the top-secret Area 51 military base, it has been sensationally claimed.
By Jon Austin
PUBLISHED: 13:04, Sun, Jul 17, 2016
Paul Hellyer, a former Canadian Minister of Defencem, said an unnamed former Canadian Chief of Emergency Measures revealed the astonishing story just before his death from a neurological illness.
Mr Hellyer, 92, revealed the claim to a panel of the world's top UFO and alien investigators and experts.
Speaking at the "Hearing on ET Disclosure” in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Mr Hellyer explained that if he wanted to know about the workings of an alien space craft he would "ask the current chief of emergency measures".
Mr Hellyer, who became a UFO expert after claiming to have seen proof of alien visitations while in office, said: "The reason I know is I interviewed the previous one, who is now deceased, and he went Langley and the CIA asked if he would like to see one of these crafts.
"They flew him to Area 51 and let him go inside one and observe it and make notes and this sort of thing."
Conspiracy theorists have insisted for years Area 51 is where evidence of alien visitations of Earth are secretly held away from public view, including the remains of the alleged 1947 Roswell flying saucer crash.
The top-secret military base in the Nevada desert, America, has intrigued and mystified UFO and alien chasers for years, particularly as the US Government only and reluctantly confirmed its existence in 2013.
Mr Hellyer added: "I guess, presumably, it was to be in better to cops with it if one crashed here and he was involved in trying to do something positive about it.
"But before he was allowed to go had to go he had to sign an oath of secrecy and not tell anyone, and during his life he didn't tell anyone including his wife, and an Air Force buddy phoned me and he was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and at that point he felt he should tell someone.
"I phoned him and he gave me a full report of what he saw and the whole idea of the inside of the craft and this sort of thing, and the fact he had been in a brief and many things, but now he felt he could tell somebody and he thought that would be a good one to tell."
Mr Hellyer was Canadian Minister of Defence from 1963 to 1968 and was deputy prime minister in 1969, but outed himself as a UFO believer 11 years ago.
Last year he made headlines across the globe after claiming up to 80 different species of aliens were in communication with world leaders, but governments across the world were involved in a mass cover up.
He told a TV news interview that some of the aliens lived on one of Saturn's moons called Andromedia.
But sceptics claim he was deluded and to have debunked him because none of Saturn's 62 moons and satellites have this name.
Victor Viggiani, who chaired the hearing, said: "The more important and dramatic piece of evidence presented by Hellyer was a story he told about the day he was called to listen to some death bed confession.
"Paul did not provide dates for the events but he received a call from a man who said that the former head of emergency measures in Canada and that he has a story he wanted to get off his chest."
The state department just hired the LA information officer and former second grade teacher at Whittimore Elementary school to handle the disappearing numbers question. She did a wonderful job answering JJs FOIA request on the Jeffrey Lash weapons matter. I am positive we will get a straight answer for a change.
Gentleman and Ladies..isn't it true..that these views can be used as a form of crypto-currency almost like bit coin..harvested and then traded like carbon credits on the open black market..using TOR networks. if so this is a scandal of egregious proportions and could have devastating consequences.
Kidding aside..we cover some very deep stuff here..besides humor..perhaps someone doesnt w/ant too much attention drawn or is intentionally hurting the added value of forum that high views give ..just sayin lets say a hostile buyer.