MastersConnection 2020
Issue 472 In This Issue April 2nd, 2016

Editors Corner

Did you know that scientists have been able to alter the functions of a living cell using a simple computer programming language? However, they did have to engineer DNA circuits, which mimic electronic circuits, to be able to do this. Click here

Speaking of bending nature to our will, have you heard about the vertical micro-farms that can now be found in supermarkets in Berlin? Click here

And on a similar subject, are you aware that kitchen scraps can be used to generate electricity? Researchers have developed a microbial gel battery that utilizes tomato waste to generate energy. The test device that was constructed doesn't produce much power but the team believes they can boost the efficiency quite a bit. Click here

That's about it from me for this week.
Enjoy this newsletter and have a wonderful week.

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Science Watch

Could we soon HACK the human body? Scientists use computer code to change how living cells behave
Efforts to harness the power of livings cells have just taken a huge stride forward, thanks to a new method which could revolutionise synthetic biology. Scientists have been able to 'hack' a living cell using a simple computer programming language, allowing them to tweak the functions of cells. The findings lay the groundwork for anyone to easily write in new functions to living cells, enabling them to carry out any task. By engineering DNA 'circuits' - which mimic electronic circuits - bioengineers in the US were able to rewrite the code of bacteria, changing their functions to environmental cues. Just like writing computer software, scientists were able to code new functions for cells using a text-based programming language which is transferred to the cell's DNA. 'It is literally a programming language for bacteria,' said Professor Christopher Voigt, a biological engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 'You use a text-based language, just like you're programming a computer.  'Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.' Synthetic biology is an area of research in which living organisms can be manipulated to change their functions, such as producing materials, eating waste products, and even accurately delivering drugs.

Click here to read full article

Scientists may have found a way to predict heat waves — 50 days in advance
Normally, I don’t trust the weather forecast to know the difference between sunshine or showers even a few days out. But a new study just published in Nature Geoscience indicates that meteorologists are close to being able to predict heat waves on the East Coast up to 50 days before they occur. The advance warning could help big cities, utilities companies, transit systems, and agricultural operations prepare for extreme temperatures — and, hopefully, prevent serious disruptions like power blackouts. “There are many possible health, economic and other impacts of these hot temperatures and advanced warning can only help,” as climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona told the Associated Press. But how is it even possible? So glad you asked. Basically, the study’s authors found a strong correlation between water temperatures in the north-central Pacific Ocean (the area just above Hawaii) and summer temperature spikes in the eastern United States. When the southern part of that Pacific region gets really hot, and the northern part is really cold, you have what scientists call the Pacific Extreme Pattern.

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Technology Watch

Power your home with kitchen scraps? Scientists figure out how to generate electricity from decomposing food
Many people use their table scraps for compost, to grow lusher, thicker, more productive gardens or to feed chickens, but now you may soon be able to cut your power bill with food scraps. As reported by the UK's Daily Mail, American scientists have discovered a way to generate electricity using rotting or damaged fruit and vegetables, by converting it into a biological-based fuel cell to create green energy. At the same time, unsold food from grocery stores and markets, as well as spillage, spoilage and damaged food that can't be sold can also be used to create biological fuel cells. "We have found that spoiled and damaged tomatoes left over from harvest can be a particularly powerful source of energy when used in a biological or microbial electrochemical cell," Namita Shrestha, a PhD student at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology said. "The process also helps purify the tomato-contaminated solid waste and associated waste water," she added, according to the Daily Mail.

Click here to read full article

Water Watch

Not a drop to drink: Ontario concerned about diverting Great Lakes water
Waukesha, Wisconsin needs water and would like to borrow some from its Canadian neighbors. However, Ontario is concerned that allowing the town to divert water from Lake Michigan will set a troubling precedent for the Great Lakes. Waukesha, home to about 70,000 people, does not have much water in its aquifer, and the little is there is contaminated with high levels of radium, a cancer-causing element, The Hamilton Spectator reported. As a result, the city is looking east to Lake Michigan for a refill. There is one big problem though: The current agreement between several Great Lakes region states and Ontario and Quebec prohibits diverting water away from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin. Although there are exceptions that can be made, some officials do not believe that it should be made for Waukesha. Mary Muter, vice chair of Restore Our Water International (ROWI), told the Manitoulin Expositor that Waukesha has not sufficiently explored other options. “Waukesha has a feasible alternative to meet its water needs,” she wrote to the Expositor. As it currently stands, the agreement would allow an application for diversion on the condition that there are no alternatives. However, Muter says, “A July 2015 report by two independent engineering firms found that Waukesha does in fact have a feasible water supply alternative.”

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RSE Newsletter

Yelm Class 201 March 21 – 25, 2016 – Event Links:
Click here to read article

Ramtha on preparedness 30 years ago, President Obama’s Emergencies Budget, and News on Earthquakes:
Click here to read article

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Triad Theater
Calendar of Events

April 2nd, 6pm - 9pm: ART SHOW OPENING - The Triad Art Gallery presents "Images of the Northwest"
CLICK HERE to see a preview.

April 2nd @ 7pm: Saturday Night Movie - Monty Python and the Holy Grail
8 donation A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

April 3rd @ 1pm: "The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest"
This series runs every Sunday in April starting at 1pm - suggested donation of $8 each or $25 for all four days. Details from "TTAC": Let’s end the cancer pandemic once and for all! Every single day, tens of thousands of people, just like you, are curing cancer (and/or preventing it) from destroying their bodies. It’s time to take matters into our own hands and educate ourselves on real prevention and treatments. It could save your life or someone you love. Doctors, researchers, experts and survivors show you exactly “how-to” prevent and treat cancer in “The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest.”

April 8th @ 7pm: Two Shows - "Cooked", and "Ever Beyond"
One donation, Two shows. Cooked starts at 7pm, Ever Beyond starts at 8pm. $8

April 9th @ 7pm: Movie Night - Clones with Bruce Willis
People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes via robotic surrogates -- sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. It's an ideal world where crime, pain, fear and consequences don't exist. When the first murder in years jolts this utopia, FBI agent Greer discovers a vast conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and must abandon his own surrogate, risking his life to unravel the mystery. $8

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Something Worth Knowing

The surprising habits of original thinkers

Food Watch

First they came for the bacon: New study says vegetarianism can cause cancer
New research may shed light on why vegetarians are almost 40 percent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than those of the carnivorous persuasion. The study goes beyond an individual’s diet though, pointing to a multi-generational factor at work. A new study from Cornell University found a generation variation – or adaptive allele - that appears in populations who have subsisted on a vegetarian diet for generations. This adaptive allele is believed to have occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants, but it also leaves them more susceptible to inflammation. According to the study authored by J. Thomas Brenna, “The mutation, called rs66698963 and found in the FADS2 gene, is an insertion or deletion of a sequence of DNA that regulates the expression of two genes, FADS1 and FADS2. These genes are key to making long chain polyunsaturated fats.” Among the polyunsaturated fats are omega-3s and omega-6s, two important fatty acids that the human body cannot make itself. But research indicates that vegetarians with the adaptive allele who stray from a balanced omega-6 to omega-3 diet are at a higher risk of cancer and heart disease. "Changes in the dietary omega-6 to omega-3 balance may contribute to the increase in chronic disease seen in some developing countries," Brenna and his co-author, Kumar Kothaplli, told Science Daily.

Click here to read full article

Berlin gets first taste of in-store vertical micro-farms
German shoppers now have the chance to buy fresh greens and herbs in supermarkets with tiny vertical farms which both grow and display the produce. The new delivery method for the freshest possible produce is being pioneered by INFARM which is currently testing its live herb gardens at METRO stores in Berlin. The people behind the project say these are the first indoor farming installations of their kind, placed directly in supermarkets. "Imagine a future where cities become self-sufficient in their food production, where autonomous farms grow fresh premium produce at affordable prices, eliminating waste and environmental impact," INFARM says. The farms look like a tiny greenhouse inside the store where shoppers can pick their own freshly harvested salad greens and herbs right from the growing plants. The advantages of the indoor micro-farms are lower transport costs and associated emissions. They use less water, energy and space than conventional farms and horizontal greenhouses. The vertical greenhouses currently grow only herbs and salad greens but the company says they can be reconfigured to growing other crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and others.

Click here to read full article

Earth Watch

Growing sinkhole causes evacuations in Tarpon Springs, Florida
A large sinkhole has opened up in Tarpon Springs, Florida on March 30, 2016, forcing the evacuation of nearby residents. This is reportedly a re-opened known sinkhole, located along U.S. 19 at Mango Street. City officials say water and sewer lines have broken at the site of the hole, and panels of fencing are falling into the muddy mire. As of early Wednesday (local time), the sinkhole is some 30 meters (100 feet) wide, more than 18 meters (60 feet) deep and is growing fast. Sinkholes are a relatively common occurrence in Tarpon Springs and elsewhere in central Florida. The bulk of Florida’s peninsula is made up carbonate rock (limestone and dolostone) overlain by variable thicknesses and mixtures of sand and clay. Carbonate rocks store and transmit groundwater. Through a slow chemical process, these carbonate rocks may dissolve, resulting in karst terrain characterized by sinkholes, caves (wet and dry), springs, disappearing/reappearing streams, and other land surface depressions all of which are commonly found throughout Florida.

Click here to read full article

Kanlaon erupts sending ash up to 1.5 km above crater, central Philippines
An ash eruption occurred from the active crater of Kanlaon volcano, the Philippines around 10:20 UTC on March 29, 2016. Based on seismic records the eruption lasted around 12 minutes. The volcano last erupted on December 27, 2015. PHIVOLCS reported the event was accompanied by a booming sound heard in Sitio Guintubdan, Brgy. Ara-al and Brgy. Yubo, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental and Brgy. Pula Canlaon City, Negros Oriental. From the southeastern side of the volcano, the eruption plume was observed to have reached 1 500 m (4 921 feet) above the active crater. Traces of light ashfall were reported in Sitio Guintubdan, Brgy. Ara-al, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental. Kanlaon remains at Alert Level 1, which means that it is at an abnormal condition and is in a period of current unrest. The local government units and the public are reminded that entry into the 4-km (2.5 miles) radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited due to the further possibilities of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions, PHIVOLCS said. Civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as airborne ash from a sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.

Click here to read full article

Study links periodic mass extinctions to "Planet X"
According to research published by a faculty member of the University of Arkansas Department of Mathematical Sciences, Daniel Whitmire, periodic mass extinctions on Earth, as indicated in the global fossil record, could be linked to a suspected ninth planet.  Whitmire's new research, published in the January issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, says that as yet undiscovered “Planet X” triggers comet showers linked to mass extinctions on Earth at intervals of approximately 27 million years. Though scientists have been looking for Planet X for 100 years, the possibility that it’s real got a big boost recently when researchers from Caltech inferred its existence based on orbital anomalies seen in objects in the Kuiper Belt, a disc-shaped region of comets and other larger bodies beyond Neptune. If the Caltech researchers are correct, Planet X is about 10 times the mass of Earth and could currently be up to 1 000 times more distant from the Sun. Whitmire and his colleague, John Matese, first published research on the connection between Planet X and mass extinctions in the journal Nature in 1985 while working as astrophysicists at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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