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Invisible Ink Could Soon Reveal Whether Children Have Been Vaccinated

Vaccine record tattoos… coming to a child’s skin near you!

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Invisible Ink Could Soon Reveal Whether Children Have Been Vaccinated

(TMU) — If you’ve ever lost of track of whether or not your child was vaccinated for any one of the diseases current vaccines are supposed to prevent the spread of, science has something for you.

Thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), vaccine data can now be embedded directly into human skin, as reported by Scientific American. What more could you want?

Maintaining accurate vaccination records is a challenge around the world—especially in the developing world—due to lost paperwork, communication and clerical errors, or simply forgetting. In fact, Smithsonian Magazine reports that Inconsistent record keeping is thought to play a large role in the 1.5 million deaths each year.

Mark Prausnitz, a bioengineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology not involved in the study, explained:

“Especially in developing countries where medical records may not be as complete or as accessible, there can be value in having medical information directly associated with a person.”

Nancy Kass, a Johns Hopkins University bioethicist  who wasn’t involved in the MIT study, said:

“Figuring out how to keep better track of vaccination is incredibly important from a health systems and public health perspective.”

The researchers use a dye that is invisible to the naked eye but can be seen with a—wait for it—mobile phone camera filter, much like a QR code. The dye would be injected into a child’s skin via microneedles at the time of vaccination and would last for up to five years.

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Kevin McHugh, Rice University

The new system is still in the early stages of development and has not been tested on actual children, but it has successfully been used on both pig and rat skin as well as human skin in a dish.

According to MIT bioengineer Ana Jaklenec, the “biggest challenge” the researchers faced was finding a safe and long-lasting dye. After testing various dyes and finding none that held up after being exposed to sunlight, the research team settled on quantum dots. The tiny semiconducting crystals were first used by researchers to label cells and has been “shown to be safe in humans,” according to Scientific American. 

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Kevin McHugh, Rice University

Prausnitz also highlighted that a system like this must be discreet and the patient, or the patient’s family, must agree with the method. He believes this new system “is a pretty interesting way to accomplish those goals,” but that some patients may have privacy concerns when it come to “carrying around personal medical information on their bodies.”

“Different people and different cultures will probably feel differently about having an invisible medical tattoo.”

Klass also pointed out that this system of record keeping “could be ripe for misinterpretations and rumors,” especially in developing countries with a history of having been taken advantage of by Western medical powers.

But it turns out privacy was actually a concern of the MIT researchers. They aimed to avoid technology that would potentially cross a line into an invasion of privacy such as iris scans or databases with personal information that would render patients identifiable.

Though it doesn’t take much imagination to see where vaccine data embedded into skin via scannable dye may lead. Perhaps someday we’ll see infrared light scans at entrances to school buildings or as part of the TSA privacy invasion process when traveling.

Alternately, Ruchit Nagar, a student at Harvard Medical School, is hoping to create a different system for tracking medical information such as vaccination records. The system involves wearing a necklace that uses the same technology as radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips. Information such as pregnancy history, growth charts, and vaccination records would be encrypted and password protected.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the MIT researcher’s work after a direct request from Bill Gates for such technology, and it was published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.

In the end, the researchers just “want people to be comfortable,” says study author and Rice University bioengineer Kevin McHugh.

“The goal is widespread adoption.”

By Emma Fiala | Creative CommonsTheMindUnleashed.com

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Cop Gave Children Weapons During Exorcism and Told Them To Shoot Demons And Intruders

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A police officer from Florida was recently arrested after he was caught performing a strange exorcism on a child holding a taser, while another child was given a gun and instructed to shoot anyone who entered the home. 37-year-old Christopher Dougherty reportedly told the two children that there were demons in the house. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Dougherty was fired from the department on an unrelated matter on the same day of his arrest, but he had worked with the sheriff’s office since 2006.

Someone tripped an alarm at the house where the incident was occurring, which prompted police to arrive on the scene. Once they got there, they saw evidence of child abuse, and decided to enter the home. Upon entering they found a young girl wearing body armor and a Kevlar helmet, lying on the ground with a rifle in a shooting position. There was also a young boy in the house who had a taser. The boy is believed to be the subject of an exorcism. Dougherty was armed with a handgun when police arrived.

The children said that Dougherty was performing an exorcism on the young boy, and told the girl that there were demons in the house, and instructed her to shoot anyone that entered.

Dougherty was detained and taken to a hospital where he was held under the Baker Act, and then arrested after he was released from the hospital a few days later. On the same day as his arrest, he was fired from the sheriff’s office, but the agency insists that his termination was related to “an unsatisfactory performance finding in a separate matter,” and had nothing to do with the exorcism. 

In a statement to Fox News, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said that he was concerned about the officer’s mental health. 

“While this deputy was terminated for a pattern of unsatisfactory performance, these are very serious criminal allegations. As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest standards of conduct whether on duty or off duty. But we are also concerned about the deputy’s mental health,” Mina said.

It is still not entirely clear what Dougherty’s relationship was with the two children that were in his care.

The 2014 horror film “Deliver Us From Evil” is based on the true-life story of New York City Police Sgt Ralph Sarchie, who was an exorcist in his spare time. Sarchie described himself as a “demonologist” and claimed to have taken part in at least 20 exorcisms, but says that he investigated over 50 paranormal cases. “I’m a demonologist, and I’m going head to head with the devil,” Sarchie once said in an interview.

In 2001, Sarchie co-wrote the book Beware the Night about his experiences as a part-time demon hunter in New York. His book would eventually inspire the horror movie that came later.

Of course, Sarchie’s “demon hunting” activities seem to be a bit more safe and legitimate than whatever was happening inside the home of Christopher Dougherty.

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Study: 1,000 Potential Alien Star Systems Could Be Watching Us From Afar

Justin MacLachlan

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Motivated by the “Pale Blue Dot” NASA photo researchers are asking the question, could other planets be looking at us just like we’re looking at them? A study of Earth’s “solar neighborhood” has found that over 1,000 different systems have the perfect angle to view Earth.

The infamous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph was suggested by astronomer Carl Sagan who implored that the Voyager 1 space probe take a picture of Earth from nearly four billion miles away. The new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, seeks to find out how many different exo-planet systems with alien life could be watching us. Ironically, the research comes from the Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute.

The studies co-author Lisa Kaltenegger stated their list focuses on main-sequence stars similar to our own sun. These solar systems may contain exoplanets, Earth-like worlds sitting in the habitable zone for life. All of the prospective systems are within 300 million light-years of Earth, close enough to see our world’s chemical traces according to the researchers.

“Let’s reverse the viewpoint to that of other stars and ask from which vantage point other observers could find Earth as a transiting planet,” Kaltenegger, the director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute said in a press release.

“If observers were out there searching, they would be able to see signs of a biosphere in the atmosphere of our Pale Blue Dot… and we can even see some of the brightest of these stars in our night sky without binoculars or telescopes.”

What makes this listing of 1,004 star systems novel and significant is they all sit in Earth’s elliptic orbit or the plane of the planets orbit around our Sun. Exoplanets traveling along this same path would be able to see the Earth according to the researchers.

To foreign observers, Earth would be a transiting planet that passes in front of its sun as the observer looks at distant stars. Theoretically, these exoplanets would be able to see Earth crossing the Sun, which sounds like a marvelous sight.

“Only a very small fraction of planets will just happen to be randomly aligned with our line of sight so we can see them transit,” co-author Joshua Pepper of Lehigh University says. “But all of the thousand stars we identified in our paper in the solar neighborhood could see our Earth transit the sun, calling their attention.”

“If we’re looking for intelligent life in the universe, that could find us and might want to get in touch,” Kaltenegger adds. “We’ve just created the star map of where we should look first.”

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Scientists Say Species Throughout Earth’s History Keep Inexplicably Evolving Into Crabs

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A paper from 2017 recently resurfaced online and has gone semi-viral because of its weird, and, according to some scientists, somewhat disturbing/amazing conclusion: that life on Earth seems to naturally evolve toward crab-like species.

Originally published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, the paper is titled “One hundred years of carcinization – the evolution of the crab-like habitus in Anomura.” It found a new life in mid-October on Boing Boing under the title “Animals have evolved into a crab-like-shape at least 5 separate times” and has since been the subject of articles on Popular Mechanics and several other websites.

So what are popular science writers – and their readers – so worked up about? The original paper discusses the curious and highly improbable sequence of instances involving convergent and parallel evolution of animals into crab-like species. These instances of carcinization – the scientific term for when a crustacean evolves from a non-crab-like form into a crab-like one – has happened at least five different times in completely different historical contexts.

In the paper, the researchers write:

“The fact that a crab-like habitus did not evolve solely in ‘true’ crabs but also several times independently in the Anomura makes this process ideal for evolutionary research.”

Parallel evolution is certainly no stranger to Earth’s history. For example, marsupials are commonly referred to in this context. Convergent evolution, which refers to species from independent epochs of time developing analogous morphological structures, is also well established by Darwinian principles. Species on separate evolutionary tracks of both habitat and time can end up arriving at the same traits and structures. However, the number of times it happens with the crab-like shape and features seems to baffle more than a few scientists.

Additionally, the researchers point out, the similarities are not just relegated to superficial appearances in shells and claws: the five evolutionary journeys toward carcinization include shared functional traits in neurological processes and circulatory systems.

“Curiously, not only did the crab-like habitus evolve independently from the ‘true’ crabs (Brachyura), it also evolved three times independently within anomurans. […] Although enormous morphological disparity is observed in the internal anatomy of the crab-like taxa, reflecting the fact that the evolution of the crab-like habitus was indeed convergent, various corresponding dependences are found across the different lineages between the external characters of a crab-like habitus/morphotype and inner structures. In other words, as a result of carcinization certain structural coherences led to the specific internal anatomical patterns found in crab-like forms.”

So, what does it all mean? Is life on Earth somehow predisposed to crabs? Does this mean that when we meet aliens someday they will be giant intelligent crabs? Or could there be some strategic evolutionary advantage in the crab-like habitus and internal structures?

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