Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2660 on: Nov 15th, 2017, 07:18am »
Good morning UFOCasebookers!
November 14, 2017
Source: University of California - Riverside
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed transgenic mosquitoes that stably express the Cas9 enzyme in their germline. The addition of Cas9 will enable the use of the CRISPR gene editing tool to make efficient, targeted changes to the mosquitoes' DNA.
As proof of concept, the researchers used the system to disrupt cuticle, wing, and eye development, producing completely yellow, three-eyed and wingless mosquitoes. Their long-term goal is to use Cas9-expressing mosquitoes together with another technology -- called gene drives -- to insert and spread genes that suppress the insects while avoiding the resistance that evolution would typically favor. Aedes aegypti are major carriers of dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and zika viruses, and are rapidly becoming resistant to commonly used pesticides.
Published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study was led by Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology in UCR's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and a member of the university's Institute for Integrative Genome Biology.
Previous efforts to use genome editing to prevent mosquitoes from spreading pathogens have been hampered by low mutation rates, poor survival of edited mosquitoes, and inefficient transmission of disrupted genes to offspring. Akbari and colleagues developed transgenic mosquitoes that stably express a bacterial Cas9 enzyme in the germline, enabling highly efficient genome editing using the CRISPR system. CRISPR works like a pair of molecular scissors, cutting out and replacing specific DNA sequences based on a ribonucleic acid (RNA) guide.
In the paper, the team used the system to disrupt genes that control vision, flight and feeding, resulting in mosquitoes with an extra eye, malformed wings, and defects in eye and cuticle color, among other changes.
Akbari said these strains represent the first step toward using gene drive systems to control mosquito populations and reduce the diseases they spread.
"These Cas9 strains can be used to develop split-gene drives which are a form of gene-drive by which the Cas9 and the guide RNA's are inserted at separate genomic loci and depend on each other for spread. This is the safest way to develop and test gene drives in the laboratory to ensure no spread into the wild," Akbari said.
Gene drives greatly increase the odds that a gene or set of genes will be passed on to offspring -- from 50 percent to 99 percent. This number can potentially increase to 100 percent when a target gene is disrupted in multiple sites, a technique called multiplexing that has recently been mathematically modeled by Akbari and colleagues at UC Berkley.
Gene drives can be used to bias genetic inheritance in favor of rapidly spreading, self-destructive genes -- such as those that disrupt fertility -- and could be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to suppress populations of disease-spreading insects.
"Next steps should be undertaken to identify the regulatory sequences that can be used to express the guide RNAs from the genome, and once these sequences are identified developing gene drives in the species should be turnkey," Akbari said.
Story Source: Materials provided by University of California - Riverside
Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2662 on: Nov 15th, 2017, 10:30am »
Those pesky humans! Always preparing for WAR!
BAE Systems Wins DARPA Contract to Develop 3D Space Warfare Lab
By Sandra Erwin, Space News November 15, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded BAE Systems a contract worth up to $12.8 million to develop a digital lab to help U.S. military commanders prepare for combat in outer space, the company announced Nov. 14.
The task is to create a virtual space-battle zone so U.S. military leaders can better understand the space environment and the potential threats.
"Military commanders must have superior space domain awareness in order to quickly assess, plan and execute operations in this increasingly complex environment," said Mike Penzo, director of ground resiliency and analytics at BAE Systems, in Reston, Virginia.
DARPA dubbed the project "Hallmark testbed."
The technology will help the military "quickly evaluate and integrate technologies for space command and control," Penzo said in a news release. In a virtual space war setting, commanders would learn how to gain "situational awareness" — a tough challenge when the action is happening hundreds or thousands of miles above Earth. Awareness in the space domain means tracking and managing many thousands of objects that are moving at extreme velocities.
The testbed also would allow leaders to practice "multi-domain" operations so data collected in space, on land, in the air, at sea or in cyberspace can be combined and analyzed to support simultaneous space and terrestrial missions. DARPA describes it as a "flexible, scalable, and secure enterprise software architecture that would become the backbone of technology development and experimentation."
The first phase of the Hallmark project focuses on space situational awareness and command-and-control technologies. Later DARPA wants to add new features to the system for "realistic, scenario-based exercises for testing space command-and-control technologies against sophisticated emerging threats."
BAE will host exercises to collect metrics for Hallmark's cognitive evaluation team, and to identify technologies for future use by the Defense Department's Joint Space Operations Center and the National Space Defense Center.
DARPA launched the Hallmark project in 2016 to support military efforts to hone space war-fighting skills.
"Military commanders responsible for situational awareness and command and control of assets in space know all too well the challenge that comes from the vast size of the space domain," DARPA said in a statement. "The volume of Earth's operational space domain is hundreds of thousands times larger than the Earth's oceans. It contains thousands of objects hurtling at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The scales and speeds in this extreme environment are difficult enough to grasp conceptually, let alone operationally."
Current space awareness tools and technologies were developed when there were fewer objects in space. Only a few nations could even place satellites in orbit, and those orbits were easily predictable. "That situation has changed dramatically in the past decade with a developing space industry flooding once lonely orbits with volleys of satellite constellations," noted DARPA. Against this backdrop, "commanders with responsibility for space domain awareness often rely on outdated tools and processes — and incomplete information — as they plan, assess, and execute operations in space."
DARPA expects this technology will give commanders "unprecedented awareness" so they can shorten the timeline required to make decisions and take action.
The next phase of the project is a "Hallmark space evaluation and analysis capability" to be located in Northern Virginia. The analysis center would be used for development, integration, modeling, simulation and realistic testing of space command-and-control software and processes.
Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #2665 on: Nov 16th, 2017, 07:06am »
Good morning all
The Voodoo Police of Tijuana
by Brent Swancer November 16, 2017
Law enforcement has always been a constant arms race between the police and the shady criminals they pursue. For every way the authorities find to fight crime the criminals will find a way to thwart it and vice versa, with each side constantly evolving and forcing police to use an ever expanding array of the methods and technological equipment at their disposal. Yet sometimes these techniques and tools just don’t seem to cut it anymore, and there can be the frustrated and desperate desire for some magic new way to fight crime. In at least one case, this magical way has been quite literal, and in the city of Tijuana, Mexico there have been groups of police, worn down and tired out by the onslaught of the seemingly never-ending drug wars plaguing them, who have turned to the arcane world of magic and Voodoo to help them win.
Any good yarn like this deserves its origin story. Mexico has long faced rampant drug trafficking, gang violence, and police corruption, with thousands of drug related deaths per year, many of them helped out by law enforcement officers who either acted as hit men themselves or looked the other way, and many in the pockets of the country’s highly influential kingpins, with very few of these villains ever actually arrested or prosecuted. Drug violence just seems to become sort of a way of life in some areas, something that is part of the landscape and just has to be lived with.
When former Mexican president Felipe Calderón came into power in 2006 he launched an intense and aggressive crusade to stamp out drug trafficking and corruption, utilizing around 40,000 military soldiers to help fight the scourge of the drug cartels and arresting or firing hundreds of corrupt officials and police officers in his fierce war on the drug barons, yet in a way this conversely made things even worse. Facing this new pressure from the president, drug cartels resorted to even more savage tactics, and stepped up their threatening activities in an effort to defy this new president and demonstrate their sheer ruthlessness and power.
Fierce, bloody gun battles in broad daylight in the streets became commonplace, complete with high-powered assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and civilian casualties, there were increased kidnappings, and bodies began to pile up in increasingly mutilated states, often with signs of grotesque torture or even having been beheaded. One high-profile attack was carried out on Lesley Enriquez, 35, a pregnant American consulate worker and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, 34, who were gunned down in cold blood in 2010 as they drove near the border city of Ciudad Juarez on a crowded road in broad daylight, and which would be a case that would stir outrage in the United States.
On top of the renewed violence, bribery continued on, with every ousted police officer or official seemingly replaced by two more, revenge killings against those who defied them ramped up, and in the meantime the flow of drugs was barely staunched at all, still managing to get into the United States regularly without even barely a change of price to show for all of the renewed violence, except for the increase in the price paid in human lives to provide them. It seemed that nothing much had changed at all except the amount of blood being shed and the amplified wanton brutality of these crimes.
One city that was hit particularly hard by all of this violence and bloodshed was the city of Tijuana, which sits just south of the border of San Diego, California. A city of 1.7 million people, Tijuana faced a huge surge in drug crimes during this period, with 2009 alone seeing 2,600 murders, with the average in this lawless land being around 120 killings a month. Police here were faced with violence the likes of which they had never seen, sometimes directed towards them by those within their own ranks, which were infested with crooked cops on the cartel pay rolls and leaving the police with no one to trust, always watching their own backs and never certain who the enemy was. One civilian head of the Tijuana police force named Alberto Capella said of this precarious situation at the time:
We are fighting two wars. One is against the narcos. The other is against our own police and the judges and the corrupt officials who work for the narcos. This second war is the most difficult one.
This dire situation, fueled by paranoia and relentless violence in the face of the drug lords, led to policemen to begin to rely on more ancient and mysterious weapons in this war in around 2009, which they hoped could help them when their automatic guns and body armor were of seemingly little use. The police of Tijuana, many from rural areas where superstition and religion are strong, began to resort to using paranormal means to try and win this war, and it seems they still do.
In some cases, policemen would gather for dark rituals said to be born from a mixture of Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Mexican witchcraft, and which involved coming together on beaches during full moons while a Voodoo priest would ritualistically kill chickens and smear the blood on the officers while chanting protective prayers to invoke the spirits to grant various powers. There they would huddle in the dark engaging in these arcane rituals, only these were not some sinister devil worshippers but rather officers of the law on a desperate mission to battle the overwhelming, menacing drug lords. These mysterious rituals remained shrouded in secrecy for a while until chicken carcasses and other signs of the gatherings began turning up at various beaches in the area and some police came forward to admit that they were partaking in these rituals to gain the means to fight the drug cartels.
Another method has been to get specially blessed charms and even “spirit tattoos,” which are said to imbued with spiritual energy that can guide the way, make one invisible to enemies, increase physical prowess, and even deflect bullets. So fully and completely do the men believe that these mystical tattoos work that they are willing to shell out $160 for one, despite the fact that they rarely get paid pitifully low salary of only around $300 dollars a month. For them it is worth it, and one former Tijuana policeman said of these supernatural weapons:
Sometimes a man needs another type of faith. I was saved when they killed two of my mates. I know why I didn’t die. We all know that guns and body armor are useless against the cartels because they are well-armed and can attack any time. But this is something we can believe in, that really works.
It is unclear just how much any of this actually works, but it is certainly clear that the men truly believe it does. It gives them a sense of relief and hope in the face of the specter of death that they face every day, offering a degree of mental fortitude to carry out what they know must be done. The drug wars still go on in Mexico, claiming scores of lives both civilian and police, and it is interesting that even in these modern times there are those who would fall back on magic in these dark days in order to give them some sort of competitive edge when all seems lost. Whether it is out of true belief or plain desperation, whether this magic they are trying to conjure up works or not, it is certainly a strange tactic to take for law enforcement officers, but perhaps with the hopelessness they seem to face anything is worth a try, and that desperate times call for desperate measures.
Scientists have created a ring of plasma in mid air, the equivalent of capturing lightning in a bottle, using only a stream of high pressured water and a crystal plate, achieving what was once thought impossible.
Plasma is one of the four most common states of matter on Earth, and is comprised of highly ionized gas. Lightning is a form of plasma, as is the weather phenomenon Saint Elmo’s fire, when glowing balls of light appear on pointed objects during storms. Fluorescent light bulbs and neon lights contain other forms of plasma. Plasma doesn’t usually have a defined shape, for instance lightning forms in a fork shape as it follows the path of least resistance through the air. Man-made plasmas have only ever been created in vacuum chambers or electromagnetic fields.
Morteza Gharib, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering at Caltech, said he was surprised he and his team were able to create a stable ring of plasma. “We were told by some colleagues this wasn't even possible,” Francisco Pereira of the Marine Technology Research Institute said. “But we can create a stable ring and maintain it for as long as we want, no vacuum or magnetic field or anything." The scientists used a stream of water and a crystal plate to make the ring of plasma. The stream of water was thinner than a human hair and was blasted from a nozzle that hit the crystal plate at about 1,000 feet per second (304.8 meters per second). When the jet hit the crystal, the water created a flow of positively charged ions on the negatively charged surface.
This creates a “triboelectric effect,” when an electric charge builds up due to friction with another material. This triggers a flow of electrons to the water’s surface, which then ionizes the atoms and molecules in the gas near the water, creating the round shaped plasma. As long as the water flow remains constant, the ring will keep its shape.
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Curiously, the researchers discovered their phones picked up high levels of radio frequency when they were in the same room as the experiment, which revealed the plasma ring was emitting radio frequencies. "That's never been seen before,” Pereira said.
The team’s findings are further detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.