first_imgEverything about hummingbirds is rapid. An iridescent blur to the human eye, their movements can be captured with clarity only by high-speed video.Slowed down on replay, their wings thrum like helicopter blades as they hover near food. Their hearts beat 20 times a second and their tongues dart 17 times a second as they slurp from a feeding station.It takes only three quick licks to reject water when they expect nectar. The birds pull back their beaks, shake their heads, and spit out the tasteless liquid. They are not fooled by the sugar substitutes in most diet sodas.The birds’ preference for sweetness has long been plain, but only now can scientists explain the complex biology behind their taste for sugar. The discovery required an international team of scientists, fieldwork in the California mountains and at Harvard University’s Concord Field Station, and collaborations between Harvard labs on both sides of the Charles River.In a paper published recently in Science, the team showed how hummingbirds’ ability to detect sweetness evolved from an ancestral savory taste receptor that is mostly tuned to flavors in amino acids. Feasting on nectar and the occasional insect, the tiny birds expanded throughout North and South America, numbering more than 300 species over the 40 million to 72 million years since they branched off from their closest relative, the swift.“It’s a really nice example of how a species evolved at a molecular level to adopt a very complex phenotype,” said Stephen Liberles, an associate professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School. “A change in a single receptor can actually drive a change in behavior and, we propose, can contribute to species diversification.”The discovery started with the chicken genome. Before scientists sequenced its genes, people assumed that chickens (and all birds) taste things the same way mammals do: with sensory receptors for the salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and the more recently recognized umami, which comes from the Japanese word for savory.The canonical view stated there was a sweet receptor present in animals, much smaller than the large families of receptors involved in smell and bitter taste perception — vital for sensing safe food or dangerous predators.Some animals have lost certain taste abilities. The panda, for example, feeds exclusively on bamboo and lacks savory taste receptors. Carnivores, notably cats, are indifferent to sweetness — the necessary gene is present in their genomes, but nonfunctional. Scientists suspect that an interplay between taste receptors and diet may effectively relegate the sweet taste receptor into a pseudogene that does not get turned on and eventually disappears.The chicken genome is another story. It has no trace of a sweet-taste receptor gene. Faced with this all-or-nothing scenario, Maude Baldwin, co-first author of the paper, had one reaction.“The immediate question to ornithologists or to anybody who has a bird feeder in the backyard was: What about hummingbirds?” she recalled. “If they are missing the single sweet receptor, how are they detecting sugar?”More bird genomes were sequenced, and still no sweet receptor.So began Baldwin’s quest to understand how hummingbirds detected sugar and became highly specialized nectar feeders. A doctoral student in organismic and evolutionary biology, she is a member of the lab of Scott Edwards, a professor of organismic and evolutionary biology and curator of ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology.Baldwin sought out Liberles at a meeting of the International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste in San Francisco. They agreed to work together on experiments that would eventually reveal how hummingbirds evolved and diversified, based on a change in their taste receptor.After cloning the genes for taste receptors from chickens, swifts, and hummingbirds — a three-year process — Baldwin needed to test what was driving the responses of the proteins expressed by the genes. She joined forces with another scientist at another international taste and smell meeting.Yasuka Toda, a graduate student of the University of Tokyo and co-first author of the paper, had devised a method for testing taste receptors in cell culture.The pair showed that in chickens and swifts the receptor responds strongly to amino acids — the umami flavors — but in hummingbirds only weakly. But the receptor in hummingbirds responds strongly to carbohydrates — the sweet flavors.“This is the first time that this umami receptor has ever been shown to respond to carbohydrates,” Baldwin said.Toda mixed and matched different subunits of the chicken and hummingbird taste receptors into hybrid chimeras to understand which parts of the gene were involved in this change in function. All told, she found 19 mutations, but there are likely more contributing to this sweet switch, Baldwin and Liberles suspect.“If you look at the structure of the receptor, it involved really dramatic changes over its entire surface to accomplish this complex feat,” Liberles said. “Amino acids and sugars look very different structurally, so in order to recognize them and sense them in the environment, you need a completely different lock and key. The key looks very different, so you have to change the lock almost entirely.”Once the mutations were discovered, the next question was, do they matter? Does this different taste receptor subunit drive behavior in hummingbirds?Back at the feeding stations, the birds answered yes. They spat out the water, but they siphoned up both the sweet nectar and one artificial sweetener that evoked a response in the cell-culture assay, unlike aspartame and its ilk. It’s not nectar, with its nutritional value, but it’s still sweet.“That gave us the link between the receptor and behavior,” Liberles said. “This dramatic change in the evolution of a new behavior is a really powerful example of how you can explain evolution on a molecular level.”The research underscores how much remains to be learned about taste and other senses, Liberles said.“Sensory systems give us a window into the brain to define what we understand about the world around us,” he said. “The taste system is arguably a really direct line to pleasure and aversion, reward and punishment, sweet and bitter. Understanding how neural circuits can encode these differentially gives us a window into other aspects of perception.”last_img read more

first_imgThis isn’t because they want to have more abortions. It’s because their underfunded, substandard, erratic and chaotic health care leaves them little alternative. The situation is only likely to become worse as more red states line up to adopt Republican cuts in Medicaid that will make it even harder for poor women to get regular checkups.Because of limited medical options, low-income women have a much lower rate of effective contraception than women higher on the income scale. With regular gynecological care, there’s every reason to expect that poor women’s use of contraception would resemble that of other women in the United States.Unfortunately, that’s not currently the case. The result of ignoring poor women’s health needs is that we end up with approximately 600,000 more unplanned pregnancies and 300,000 more abortions each year than if we provided all women with accessible medical care.If we truly want to lower the abortion rate, we should be increasing funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood. “De-fund Planned Parenthood” may be an effective slogan for whipping up the conservative base. But for the hundreds of thousands of additional fetuses that will be aborted each year due to wretched health care for low-income women, that slogan is a death sentence.Well-funded health care translates into vastly fewer abortions. Isn’t that what “pro-life” people say they want?Jacqueline DoneganSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musicSchenectady man dies following Cutler Street dirt bike crashTroopers: Schenectady pair possessed heroin, crack cocaine in Orange County Thruway stop Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionIf anti-abortion proponents really want to drastically reduce the number of abortions in America, instead of just using the issue to score political points, there is a straightforward solution: Provide decent health care for low-income women.In his book, “Sex and the Constitution,” University of Chicago constitutional scholar Geoffrey R. Stone notes that while poor women make up 15 percent of the population, they account for 42 percent of all abortions.last_img read more

first_img…as Govt promises full digitalisation by 2020Government has committed to offering 200 services online to citizens as part of its ICT manifesto promises, while the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is urging more inclusionary policies for youth to advance the sector.At an IDB-sponsored training summit at the Marriott Hotel on Friday, IDB Regional Head Therese Turner-Jones, in addressing the participants, urged Government to avail itself of youth innovators.It has been pointed out that youths have led the data revolution in other countries, and those countries have gone on to achieve some form of economic prosperity. As such, transforming the sector can be expedited by more involvement of youths.“We have more young people today than we (will) have in, say, 2030… young people are thought to be the agents of change. We also know that young people are much more wired to their technology than, say, those over 60. So I thinkAttendees at the summit, which was held at the Marriott Hotelthere’s a lot of promise in (them),” Turner-Jones pointed out. Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes also addressed stakeholders. According to Hughes, ordinary citizens and businesses would, by 2020, be able to access public services online.“So imagine your driver’s licence application (or) that application for a TIN number; all these services can be done online, and therefore we have to start heading in that direction… And the private sector, you are going to be left behind also if you continue to do this the old way,” she related, as she stressed that the private sector should therefore avail itself of technological opportunities to improve customer service.Meanwhile, IDB Country Representative Sophie Makonnen stressed the need for countries to keep up to date with advancing technologies. With new technology, Makonnen noted, there are new ways to solve old problems, such as with health care.A few days ago, stakeholders were introduced to the concept of exponential technologies (ET) and their importance in developing small economies like Guyana’s.A presentation was made by Dr Nicholas Haan, the Track Chair and Vice President of Impact at Singularity University (SU). SU is a Silicon Valley think-tank that offers educational programmes and serves as a business incubator.During his presentation, Dr Haan pointed out that, in recent years, there have been major technological transformations which have created opportunities for agencies to rethink the way they serve people.“Humanity is currently witnessing, at this very time, a major transformation never ever seen before; a transformation into a digital era where every single one of our social systems – our food system, our energy system, our health system, our government system, etc – every single one of those is being transformed by technology and other global trends.“This creates incredible opportunities if you’re leading a corporation or if you’re an entrepreneur, and it creates incredible opportunities for Governments around the world to rethink the way to best serve the populace,” Dr Haan posited.He went on to talk about how exponential technology has advanced and developed over recent years to create new concepts such as artificial intelligence programmes that operate in real time with no human control and 3D printing. IDB’s Senior Specialist on State Modernisation, Mariko Russell, had said that the idea behind hosting this presentation was to highlight how accessible and beneficial exponential technologies can be for local enterprises.last_img read more

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “No, you’re not really one of them, really,” a conservative blogger offered in a soothing tone. Let’s see … I’ve been a journalist my whole adult life (save the college party years that don’t count as adulthood), and yet I’m still not one of them? Either I’ve done something wrong or the theory that all mainstream media think and vote the same – and tailor their stories with such bias – has received an eensie teensie bit of debunking. Or maybe I’ve been so brainwashed by the MSM gods that I don’t know the difference. Wait! That secret MSM handshake should have been a dead giveaway that I was accepted into the program, a Republican allowed in like an affirmative action quota. And once on the inside, I was privy to that which makes some conservatives wake in a cold sweat: MSM. Yet at what price MSM? Have I sold my soul to the MSM machine for a few juicy stories and a few newsroom potlucks? For far too long, I thought “MSM” stood for something kinky. But this initialism means something far more sinister, a favorite topic of derision in the blogosphere: the mainstream media. I first heard the term from fellow conservatives around the time of Dan Rather’s tarring and feathering. It’s all over the blogs: MSM wants America to crash and burn. MSM has bin Laden over for brunch. MSM has red horns and a pitchfork. MSM, the new mark of the Beast. MSM, which lurks in your cable box and lands with a thud each morning on your porch. Keep small children and vulnerable animals away from MSM. Think that’s a kitten meowing for a saucer of milk outside the back door? It’s really MSM. But wait a minute: I am MSM! After eight years immersed in MSM, I can report my observations to the rest of the world. Hold on to your seat belts. The Beast is about to be revealed. Throughout the years, in myriad cities at big and small publications, I have consciously worked side by side with journalists whose views differ from mine. And – get this – I have enjoyed it. Having been a reporter, editor and columnist, I’ve never been in a news meeting where we plotted ways to inflict fatal wounds on the vast right-wing conspiracy. (They make me cover my ears and start singing “LA-LA-LA” before plotting.) I never received an official MSM voting guide. And though I’ve often been a lonely celebrant on election nights, I’ve never been drawn and quartered. (After all, a newsroom can never waste staff resources.) Not that there isn’t media bias. What’s tricky is rounding up a large gathering of MSM who all have the same bias. There are many, many liberals in the news biz, and a good chunk who identify themselves as moderate. Some let those views influence their work, and some don’t. Yet even though I’m apparently walking around with the modern fleur-de-lis – the brand of the MSM – reality doesn’t always satisfy the conspiracy-starved. My agent once tried to sell a conservative imprint on a book proposal where I related humorous tales of life as a GOP journalist. The publisher nixed the project because they wanted something hard, gritty, dramatic, full of discrimination and suicide contemplations. Something in the vein of “MSM: One Woman’s Courageous Tale of Survival,” starring Eric Roberts and Valerie Bertinelli and airing on Lifetime Television. Conservative plus newsroom equals humor just must be so un-MSM. Yet it’s fine if I carry the stigma of MSM for the rest of my life. I’ve come to grips with my nearly criminal career choice. Because I can look in the mirror and say: I am a card-carrying member of the MSM and I’m OK, darn it! But was I really implanted with a microchip that’s ordering me to say this? As if any newspaper has a budget for that technology – unless it’s a double-secret experimentation project funded by the MSM collaborative. Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News. E-mail her at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

first_imgOAKLAND — With the two-horse race between the A’s and Yankees for the top American League wild-card spot remaining tight as the season winds down, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see these two clubs end up in a stalemate at the end of September.The A’s (92-61) enter Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins 1 1/2 games back of New York with nine to go. The A’s and Yankees split their head-to-head matchups this year at three games a piece, so the next tiebreaker would be best …last_img read more

first_img9 July 2012 Cooperation in trade and investment and the avoidance of double taxation formed part of discussions at the fourth Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) meeting between South Africa and Chile on Friday. The meeting was co-chaired by International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim and his Chilean counterpart, Fernando Schmidt, in Pretoria. “South Africa and Chile have agreed and finalised two instruments, namely the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a Joint Trade and Investment Commission,” the two countries said in a joint communique following the meeting. South Africa remains one of the largest foreign investors in Chile’s mining sector. However, the trade balance between South Africa and Chile is currently in favour of Chile. The establishment of a Joint Bilateral Trade and Investment Commission would help to address this. Exports to Chile include minerals, chemical fertilisers, sulphate, insecticides and fruit. Imports from the South American country include chemicals. The meeting additionally discussed a number of other areas, including the possibility of a dialogue regarding a preferential trade agreement subject to concurrence with the Southern African Customs Union, science and technology, and academic exchanges in the tertiary education sector. It was decided to explore possibilities of further academic collaboration between Chile and South Africa. The previous JCM meeting between Chile and South Africa took place in Chile in 2008. Following the devastating earthquake in Chile in February 2010, the South African government donated R500 000 in relief aid, which was routed through the Chilean Red Cross. Source: read more

first_img23 February 2016*UPDATE: At the close of the Berlin Film Festival, Shepherds and Butchers won a third place in the Panorama Audience Award category, on 20 February. The film played to full houses in the German capital, followed by lively Q&A sessions with the film’s producers.Producer Anant Singh welcomed the award, a first for a South African film, saying: “We are overwhelmed by this acknowledgement for our home-grown film. (competing) with the best in the world. It is a testament to the amazing talent we assembled for the film, and this enabled us to successfully compete in the international arena.”Berlin Hidden Gem: ‘Shepherds and Butchers’— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 13, 2016Oliver Schmitz is the award-winning director of South African films such as Mapantsula and acclaimed HIV/Aids drama Life, Above All. His new film, his first feature in six years, Shepherds and Butchers, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, 13 February.Produced by Anant Singh, the film is an atmospheric courtroom drama set in apartheid-era South Africa. It deals with issues such as race, guilt and the trauma of violence. Singh told TimesLive he was proud of the Berlin honour. “To have a South African film in the official selection category is important. It helps our profile as South African filmmakers when our films are recognised,” he said.“It’s exciting times for the South African film industry. There are many young filmmakers with huge talent and it’s refreshing. We need to make films of a certain quality, but there’s not a formula. Filmmakers just need to continue being creative.”#southafrica courtroom #movie with Steve Coogan premieres #Berlin film festival.— South Africa People (@sapeople) February 14, 2016The film features British actor Steve Coogan in a rare dramatic role as a lawyer representing a young, white prison guard (played by South African Garion Dowds). He is charged with murder after being traumatised by government executions of black anti-apartheid activists. The film also features a host of established and up-and-coming local acting talent, including Deon Lotz, Robert Hobbs and Eduan van Jaarsveldt.The story, based on the book by Chris Marnewick, weaves real-life events and compelling characters into a honest study of the last days of apartheid and the implications for both black and white South Africans.It features original music by musical storyteller Vusi Mahlasela, who also performs the film’s theme song with Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb.The film will be released locally on the art cinema circuit during 2016.Source: TimesLIVElast_img read more

first_imgShare with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedGBC 2 – Name that Tune — Geocache of the WeekAugust 15, 2018In “Community”Cache ‘o Mat (GC1A11C) – GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – January 24, 2013January 21, 2013In “Community”Abducted! — VESMIRNA FEDERACE (GC4RFG2) — Geocache of the WeekMarch 26, 2015In “Geocache of the Week” Explore one of Italy’s architectural  treasures through geocaching. The Geocache of the Week, “In mezzo agli alberi morti” (GC2308M) leads geocachers through the heart of Bologna. geomafioso created the difficulty 3, terrain 1 Multi-Cache in 2010.The name of the cache translates into English as, “In the midst of dead trees.” The cache owner writes that the title of the geocache becomes obvious the closer a geocacher comes to finding the geocache’s final location.Along the cache route for “In mezzo agli alberi morti”geomafioso writes, “I think geocaching is mainly about seeing interesting places, but sometime the process of finding the cache, and the cache itself should give that “WOW” effect to the geocacher. This is why I love creative geocaches.”geomafioso says his greatest inspiration comes from other geocaches and going shopping, “Groundspeak forums are a nice source for creative ideas but there’s nothing like hardware stores. Since I started hiding caches, whenever I enter an hardware store I try to figure out if something can be used or transformed into a geocache. This gives me ideas for new creations.” The rewards for creative caches, like “In mezzo agli alberi morti” are Favorite Points, and seeing the logs for those who found the cache. geomafioso says, “Reading the comments and logs of enthusiast geocachers is, in my opinion, the highest reward.”Along the cache route for “Im mezzo agli alberi morti”One geocacher writes, “What an amazing cache! After living in Bologna for a few months, I had a pretty good idea of where to find the first stage, but was really surprised when we found it in the end. One of my favorites that I have done so far. TFTC!”Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on you’ d like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to [email protected]last_img read more

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts Tags:#cloud#cloud computing#news center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market alex williams First this week we get the full on press from Microsoft about its push for building private clouds. Then VMware comes along with its own new pricing model for cloud computing service providers by charging on a pay as you go basis for virtual machines. The goal: make it more cost effective to deploy a private cloud environment.Now comes the news that Joyent has bought Layerboom Systems. Layerboom provides hardware and software management tools for hosting companies that turn dedicated servers into a virtualized infrastructure. The deal means that Joyent can help customers move legacy servers into virtual environments.The deal follows others that Joyent has made to extend its vision of a platform as a service for private cloud computing. In 2009 Joyent acquired Reasonably Smart, an open-source platform-as-a-service provider based on JavaScript and Git. It is compared to Google Apps engine.These moves by Joyent are signs that competition with Microsoft is intensifying. Joyent offers an appliance for enterprises to build private clouds. Microsoft is also offering its own appliance to help an enterprise develop a private cloud environment.The Layerboom deal makes a lot of sense. Companies are loaded with legacy servers. If Layerboom can ease that transition then Joyent has a way to provide customers with a ramp up into a private cloud environment.last_img read more

first_imgI’ve had the pleasure of knowing Martin Holladay for more than 10 years, so it came as no surprise to me that his passion for sustainable building and his journalistic chops were recently recognized by the website Retro Renovation. The site’s regular blogger, Pam Kueber, told readers that Martin is “pretty much my favorite blogger in the universe.”Martin, who writes the Musings of an Energy Nerd blog for Green Building Advisor, has developed a loyal following because of a level of journalistic integrity that’s often missing from other green-building blogs. Pam writes, “The #1 reason I love Martin’s columns: He is data driven. If a product claims it will save energy — and therefore, money — he digs for the research to see if it really did, or will. Furthermore, he bakes in how much it costs to buy and install the product — to determine the final financial/environmental calculus. I have not been able to find this level of practical, data-driven, environmentally-focused home improvement journalism anywhere else online.”You can read more by following this link: In praise of Martin Holladay: Musings of An Energy Nerd — Retro Renovation.Well done, Martin. Keep up the good work.last_img read more