Let’s face it – doom and gloom have become par for the course when it comes to reports about the state of Mother Earth, with stories detailing a warming climate, extreme weather events, and the extinction of various species taking over headlines with tragic regularity.
Unusually, the damage to the planet seems like a done deal – the result of humanity’s opening of Pandora’s Box in a manner that unleashes irreversible consequences.
Such was the case in 2014 and 2015, when two scorching heat waves led to the worst coral bleaching in Hawaii’s recorded history, leading scientists to ponder whether the islands’ reefs were risking death, going from “a vibrant, three-dimensional structure teeming with life, teeming with color, to a flat pavement that’s covered with brown or green algae,” according to a Guardian report.
However, four years later, scientists are reportedly “thrilled” to notify the world that Hawaii’s coral reefs are bouncing back and showing healthy signs of stabilization.
In new survey data released by The Nature Conservancy, healthy new reefs located further away from human influence are thriving while even those corals in West Hawaii that faced 60 percent to 90 percent bleaching in 2015 are showing signs of recovery.
The data shows that while scientists were right to worry about irreparable damage to the state’s reefs as a result of the bleaching events, recovery remained possible.
Eric Conklin, the director of TNC’s Hawaii marine science program, told West Hawaii Today:
“We surveyed over 14,000 coral colonies at 20 sites along the West Hawaii coast from Kawaihae to Keauhou and were thrilled to see that many of the area’s reefs have stabilized, which is the first step toward recovery.”
The survey illustrated a large gap in the health of those corals most exposed to the ecological effects of human economic activities, which were generally the hardest-hit by the bleaching event, versus those corals in remote areas where human shoreline access was limited.
TNC marine program director Kim Hum explained:
“Interestingly, the number of stressors affecting an area, not the severity of a single one, was the most important factor … Reefs that are fighting the impacts of several stressors are more susceptible to temperature stress, making them more likely to bleach and less able to recover if they do.”
While frequent and severe bleaching remains likely in the coming years, the survey points to the possibility that Hawaii will be able to reduce the stressors that render corals more vulnerable to dying off. But this will mean that protection from commercial fishing, land pollution, and runoff is needed. Hum said:
“We can make sure remote areas with few stressors stay that way, and we can reduce pressures from over-fishing, land-based pollutants and runoff in more populated areas.”
Humans May Have Found a Way To Not Only Stop Aging – But To Reverse It as Well
Humans have long to reverse the effects of aging and prolong their lives. Whether this was due to a love of power, a love of wealth or simple human anxiety about the loss of youth, tales about immortality can be found in the folk tales of countless cultures.
And while aging is a wholly natural process, humans have always struggled to fight against it – be it through science and medicine or through the search for supposed cures such as the mythical Fountain of Youth.
And now, Israeli scientists have claimed to have figured out a solution not only to the process of biological aging – but to reverse it as well, simply by administering pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
In a study published Nov. 18 in the peer-reviewed journal Aging, the scientists claim to have showed how aging could be reversed in two key biological clocks in humans related to aging and illness by administering high-pressure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
When humans grow olders and their cells divide, the sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes – known as telomeres – grow shorter with time. After the telomeres become too short, the cell is unable to replicate and eventually dies.
While telomere shortening can keep rogue cancerous cells from multiplying rapidly, this also results in genetic aging. As a result, geriatric cells that aren’t able to divide – also known as senescent cells – accumulate throughout our lives, and are one of the key causes of aging.
In the clinical study, 35 people aged 64 or older were given hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) for 90 minutes a day, five times a week over the course of three months. Blood samples were collected from subjects prior to the treatment, after after the first and second months of the trial, and two weeks after the trial ended.
The patients didn’t have any lifestyle, diet, or medication changes during the study. However, their blood revealed major increases in the telomere length of their cells and a decrease in the number of their senescent cells.
For the researchers, the results of the study offered proof that the process of aging is reversible.
“Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation,” Prof. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post. “Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”
The groundbreak study, he added, “gives hope and opens the door for a lot of young scientists to target aging as a reversible disease.”
The oxygen treatment also improved subjects’ attention, ability to process information, as well as subjects’ executive functions, the researchers said.
While attempts to halt aging through modifying one’s lifestyle or intensively exercising can provide “some inhibiting effect on telomere shortening”, the hyperbaric oxygen treatment is more effective, said Efrati’s partner at the Shamir Medical Center, Chief Medical Research Officer Amir Hadanny.
“In our study, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at rates far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications,” Hadanny said.
The study could open the door to a radical new approach to medical problems and medicine in general.
“Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging,” Prof. Shai Efrati of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post. “We are not [just] slowing the decline – we are going backwards in time.”
Scientists: The Human Brain And the Entire Universe Have Odd Similarities
An astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona have claimed that the brain resembles the universe. The two Italian researchers came up with the galaxy-brain theory that is out of this world: The structures of the perceptible universe, they say, are astonishingly comparable to the neuronal networks of the human brain.
University of Bologna astrophysicist Franco Vazza and University of Verona neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti document the extraordinary similarities between the cosmic network of galaxies and the complex web of neurons in the human brain. The detailed study was published in the journal Frontiers in Physics showcasing the human brain has roughly 27 orders of magnitude separated in scale, while similarly, the composition of the cosmic web shows comparable levels of complexity and self-organization, according to the researchers.
The brain itself contains an estimated 69 billion neurons, while the visible universe is comprised of at least 100 billion galaxies, strung together like a mesh network. Even more intriguing both galaxies and neurons only account for about 30 percent of the total masses of the universe and brain. Further, both galaxies and neurons arrange themselves like pearls on a long string.
Beginning from the shared features of the two systems, the two researchers examined a simulation of the network of galaxies in comparison to sections of the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. Their purpose was to inspect how matter variations propagate.
In the case of galaxies, the remaining 70 percent of mass is dark energy. The equivalent in the human brain, the pair said was water.
“We calculated the spectral density of both systems,” Vazza said in a statement about the experiment. “This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies. Our analysis showed that the distribution of the fluctuation within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the cosmic web,” he added, “but, of course, on a larger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years.”
The amount of interwoven connections originating from each node also were strangely alike sparking further interest to the researchers.
“Once again, structural parameters have identified unexpected agreement levels,” Feletti said in the statement. “Probably, the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers regulating galaxies and neurons.”
The team is anticipating that their preliminary research could lead to new analysis procedures advancing knowledge about both cosmology and neurosurgery. Which would enable scientists to better comprehend how these compositions have developed over time.
Scientists Splice Monkey Brains With Human Genes to Make Them Smarter in Bizarre Experiment
Scientists have spliced monkey brains with human genes in a bizarre “Planet of the Apes” experiment.
The experiments were conducted by the Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany and the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Japan. Japanese and German researchers jointly injected a gene called ARHGAP11B — which directs stem cells in the human brain — into the dark matter of marmoset fetuses, according to a release about the historic research.
After the process, the scientists discovered that the primates’ brains had become more human-like by developing larger, more advanced neocortexes in the area that controls cognition and language, according to the study published in the journal Science earlier this year in June.
According to pictures published by the team, the modified monkey brains almost doubled in size at around 100-days into development.
“We found indeed that the neocortex of the common marmoset brain was enlarged and the brain surface folded,” said study author Michael Heide.
The neocortex is the newest part of the brain to develop a potential sign that ARHGAP11B may have been what caused brain maturity during human evolution, the researchers expressed.
Eventually, the scientists decided to abort the monkey fetuses due to “unforeseeable consequences,” according to the study.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that scientists have injected monkeys with human genes. Previously last year researchers in southern China and U.S. scientists jointly reported similar experiments creating 11 transgenic rhesus monkeys (eight first-generation and three second-generation) with extra copies of another human gene MCPH1 suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence. Except during the prior experiment they allowed them to fully develop.
The researchers in that study found that the transgenic monkeys carrying the human gene were important for brain development, and the monkeys showed human-like brain development as well.
Further, they discovered transgenic monkeys exhibited better short-term memory and shorter reaction time compared to wild rhesus monkeys in the control group.
That means that both studies observed that when different human genes were inserted into monkeys brains, the organs began to develop similar to a human. That’s a massive discovery for the history of evolution of man kind!
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