Massive Lake Discovered Beneath Antarctic Ice May Be Teeming With Life

These are exciting times to study Antarctica and zero in on what possibly lies beneath its thick ice. A massive lake discovered barely a decade ago, for instance, may be filled with hidden life.

Three separate studies from institutions across the United States offered a fresh first look into the biology and geophysics of subglacial Lake Whillans, which lies 2,600 feet beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Back in 2013, an American team drilled into the sliver of water about 7 feet deep, finding microbial life whose density compares to that of the world’s deep oceans with a rich bacteria and archaea population that’s at least 4,000 species strong.

Now, the three separate bodies of research point to a wetland-resembling area beneath the ice, with tiny amounts of seawater emerging from ancient marine matter on the lakebed. Their findings are hoped to help analyze the role of subglacial lakes in water flow from the continent to the ocean — and therefore to sea-level rises.

“It is amazing to think that we did not know that this lake even existed until a decade ago,” said Helen Amanda Fricker of Scripps Oceanography, who discovered Lake Whillans in 2007 from satellite data. “[T]hese new data are helping us understand how lakes function as part of the ice-sheet system.”

Findings On Lake Whillans

Using an array of methods to probe the subglacial system’s dynamics, the three recent papers highlight exciting findings.

The Scripps Oceanography team led by Matthew Siegfried reported in Geophysical Research Letters that GPS data collected in the span of five years indicate that the lake’s periodic drainage can raise velocity at the ice sheet’s base and accelerate ice movement by up to 4 percent in certain bursts, each lasting for several months. These short-term phenomena, the authors suggested, can help scientists better predict upcoming, long-term ice sheet changes.

In the paper published in the journal Geology, Montana State University researchers used data from a 15-inch-long core of lake sediment to describe the chemistry of water in the lake as well as its sediments. Results showed that lake water emerges from melting at the ice sheet base enveloping the lake, with some parts from seawater trapped in sediments lying under the ice sheet when the Antarctic ice retreated during the last interglacial era.

The discovery of an ancient and isolated ocean water reservoir affecting the subglacial lake’s biogeochemistry opposes previous studies from nearby ice streams, which showed no “discernible marine signature” in water obtained from sediments.

The third paper discussed in Earth and Planetary Science Letters investigated sediments from the lake to know their relationship with the ice sheet and subglacial water, demonstrating that although floods occasionally invade the lake, the flow isn’t strong enough to erode expansive drainage channels.

Instead, the habitat underneath is likened to wetlands within coastal plains, where water bodies are likely shallow, broad and with gradual water flow.

Subglacial Lake Research

The 2013 drilling of Lake Whillans through the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project retrieved water and sedimentary samples using a customized and clean hot-water drill, which prevents contamination of the pristine setting. It was nothing short of fascinating, as the body of water had been isolated from direct atmospheric contact for thousands of years.

This was unlike the 2012 project of Russian scientists who bore into Lake Vostok, which has been ice-covered for 15 million years. Their claims of finding evidence of life in the lake were met with skepticism due to the water samples unfortunately getting tainted by the fluid used in the drilling.

Science continues to unearth life in isolated water untouched by sunlight, such as two years ago when a team deploying a remotely operated vehicle spotted a species of translucent fish and some tiny crustaceans.

It remains exactly unknown how life was sustained in those areas or where the nutrients come from, but it is speculated by the ecosystems are fed by a certain chemosynthesis where microbes feed on minerals descending from the ice above or seeping through the sediments below.

Proving the existence of Antarctic lakes is seen to boost research on the continent, whose biodiversity is deemed as rich and complex as the deep oceans. A new lake being targeted for exploration, for instance, is far easier to study than Vostok or other remote bodies, as it is located only 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the closest research station

Developer Gets Apple Watch to Run Windows 95

After developer Nick Lee realized that the Apple Watch‘s 520 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage made it more powerful than many desktops running Windows 95 in the 1990s, he felt confident he could get it to run Microsoft’s successful operating system.


Photo via Nick Lee
To get Windows 95 to run on the Apple Watch, Lee knew he couldn’t rely on Apple’s WatchKit SDK because it doesn’t allow developers to directly access user touch locations. Instead, the SDK forces developers to use Apple’s stock controls. So Lee had to patch certain files within a WatchKit app to load his own app code rather than Apple’s. Lee tellsMacRumors the process, which puts an x86 emulator into a self-contained Watch app, essentially turned Windows 95 into an an app.

Once Windows 95 was loaded onto the Apple Watch, the booting process took an hour because it’s being emulated rather than virtualized. Lee also had to attach a straw to a small motor that nudged the Digital Crown periodically to keep the Watch awake. Once the Watch is all booted up and ready, users can control the mouse with their finger. However, because the emulation is so slow, Lee told MacRumors that “it only registers a few pixels per movement on the screen.” To combat the lack of speed users can queue up commands by rapidly swiping on the display.

The Watch can be seen booting up and running Windows 95 in the video above, and Lee goes into further detail about the process in his Medium post.

Dogs in therapy

More media outlets reported on an informal survey of dog behaviour by UBC canine expert Stanley Coren. In a blog post for Psychology Today, Coren said a hug could restrict a dog’s ability to move and therefore stress out the animal.

Coren examined photos of people hugging their dogs online and found that eight out of every 10 photos suggested that the dogs were anxious or uncomfortable with being hugged.

The story appeared in the Guardian (UK), TIME, Boston Globe, CBC News, Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun.

Learning a language can boost mental agility in just one week

Learning a language can boost mental agility in just one weekIntensive language learning can boost students’ attention spans.

A new study has found that just one-week of an intensive language learning course is enough to boost students’ attention spans.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh compared a group of 33 students aged 18 and 78, who were taking part in a one-week Scottish Gaelic course, with 16 other students who were taking part in a comparable course, but not learning a language.

Their attention levels were measured using listening tests, which assessed each participant’s ability to concentrate on certain sounds and switch their attention to focus on relevant information.

The team found that both groups who completed the one-week courses showed improvements in their attention levels, but it was only those in the language group who showed significant improvements when compared to a control group who had completed no course at all.

And it didn’t matter what age the participants were when they started learning the language. Improvements were found in all participants aged 18 to 78, showing that even if you think you are too old to start, language learning can boost mental agility even later in life.

The team also found that not only did these improvements occur after just one week, but they could also be maintained with regular practice, with those who practiced for five hours or more per week still showing improved attention levels nine months after the initial language learning course.

However, those who practiced for four or less hours each week showed more inconsistent results. While some participants showed improvements in their attention spans, others stayed the same or even deteriorated.

Prof. Boyd Robertson, Principal of the College attended by the participants in the study, commented that previous feedback on the course had already shown the social benefits of the language course, with the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Thomas Bak, adding that these new results now also confirm the cognitive benefits of language learning.

Dr. Bak also concluded that, “I think there are three important messages from our study: firstly, it is never too late to start a novel mental activity such as learning a new language. Secondly, even a short intensive course can show beneficial effects on some cognitive functions. Thirdly, this effect can be maintained through practice.”

The results were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Samsung Artik 10 Will challenge Raspberry Pi and avail in Next Month – Pricing, Specifications

The Raspberry Pi 3 competitor is soon debuting in the market.Samsung’s Artik 10, which is the Raspberry Pi 3 competitor is readyto go for sale in next month. The Samsung is ready to start shippingit to customers from Next Month. The Artik 10 is the little computeralternative, just like Raspberry Pi.

The Samsung Officials said that the Artik 10 will be available atOnline retailer, Digi-Key in the first week of May. The Artik 10 ispowered by the 8-core 32Bit ARM Processor, which seems outdatedif we look at the processing power of 64Bit Quad-core ARMProcessor, which is available on Raspberry Pi 3 board. On the Graphics processing side, the Artik 10 ison the higher side. It comes with Mali T628 MP6 Graphics processor, which can HD Videos at 120Frames Per Second.

The Artik 10 has old processor architecture, but it has 16GB Onboard Flash Storage and 2GB ofLPDDR3 RAM, which is still higher than the Raspberry Pi 3. For connectivity, it comes with USB portsand other expansion ports for Sensors, camera, display and other necessary components. The Artik 10also has wireless connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee. The pricing of the SamsungArtik 10 may cross the Raspberry Pi 3 price. The expected cost of this Smart Computer Board can bemore than $100.

Hidden design details that will make you want Tesla’s Model 3 even more

Hundreds of thousands of Tesla fans have been throwing money at the company tobuy its cheapest electric car yet, securing their place in line to purchase the Model3. Many of them preordered the car even before Tesla revealed its design andspecs. In the meantime, almost everything is known about the Model 3 at this point,but a new report reveals hidden design details that might make Tesla’s new Model3 one of the best electric cars money can buy in any price range. At least, for thetime being.

Tesla’s Model 3 has to have a smaller battery to be more affordable than othermodels, but that doesn’t mean it’ll have reduced range. Tesla already said thatModel 3 should be able to travel over 215 miles on a single charge of a batterythat’s smaller than 60 kWh. How is it possible? Aerodynamics.

Elon Musk also said that Model 3 will have a 0.21 Cd drag coefficient, which wouldmake the car the most aerodynamic mass production car ever made, according toElectrek.

Tesla’s Model S and Model X already achieved the lowest drag coefficients in theirrespective segments, but Model 3 will be even better. How is that possible? Exa’svice president of ground transportation application Ales Alajbegovic speculated onthe aerodynamic design of Model 3, suggesting that certain design lines – like thatugly grille – are intentional choices meant to reduce drag.

Tesla is rumored to use Exa’s digital simulation tool to develop its cars, but Exadoesn’t have access to results of those tests.

“Tesla uses Exa’s PowerFLOW digital simulation software in-house to design itscars,” the exec said. “We don’t see the process, but by analyzing the cars that Muskunveiled at the end of March, we can see where Tesla has innovated.”

He then explained that some of the design lines Tesla used in wheels and grille areall backed up by aerodynamics principles intended to make the car more efficient.These design tricks might make the Model 3 appear “ugly” when compared toother cars, but they’re key to making sure the car can offer incredible range in spiteof a smaller battery.

“The differing turbine-blade styling not only comes across as fresh and appealing,but it also directs the flow of the air under the body of the car to reduce drag,”Alajbegovic said about the wheels. “That’s smart. Tesla could have used an activeaero solution that closed the vanes on the wheels at speed, but they chose not to. Infact, it appears there are no active aero devices on the Model 3, which reduces thecost of making it.”

He then went on to explain the grille shape.

“Here only the shape remains. A more wedged front end, such as used by rear-engined Porsches, might well be more desirable aerodynamically, but Tesla couldbe using the grille shape with its rounded edges to control the air flow over the topor round the sides of the car,” Alajbegovic said.

He continued, “The Model 3 also employs air curtains in the lower fender that exitahead of the front tires to provide a drag-reducing air stream over the wheels,while helping the flow transition smoothly around the sides of the vehicle,” he said.“The underbody is likely to be flat and smooth, ending with a rear diffuser to controlthe air coming from under the car.”

How important is aerodynamics? The exec said that by reducing drag from 0.32 to0.24 – which seems like a minimal improvement – Tesla managed to increase therange by 50 miles.

So, before you complain about the Model 3’s design, best remember that thecompany may have compromised on style so that you can afford to purchase a carthat drives for more than 200 miles on a charge. Knowing how much skill andexpertise went into these design elements makes you wonder what other surprisesare in store, and it might make you want Tesla’s Model 3 even more.

Just 1 minute of intense exercise produces health benefits similar to 50 minutes of moderate exercise

No time to exercise? Now you have no excuse.
April 27, 2016

Intense trumps moderate (credit: iStock)

Researchers at McMaster University have found that a single minute of very intense exercise within a 10-minute session produces health benefits similar to those from 50 minutes of moderate-intensity continuous exercise.

Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective, a very time-efficient workout strategy, according to Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, published online in an open-access paper in the journal PLOS ONE

Gibala and associates compared their “sprint interval training” (SIT) protocol to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), which is recommended in current public-health guidelines. They examined key health indicators, including insulin sensitivity (a measure of how the body regulates blood sugar) and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Quick intense vs. longer moderate

The ”sprint interval training” (SIT) protocol in the experiment involved three intermittent 20-second “all-out” cycle sprints interspersed with two minutes of continuous low-intensity exercise for recovery. MICT (the current exercise guideline) involves 45 minutes of continuous cycling at ~70% maximal heart rate. Both protocols involve a two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool-down.

In the experiment, a total of 27 sedentary men were recruited and assigned to perform three weekly sessions of either intense or moderate training for 12 weeks, or to a control group that did not exercise.

After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, even though the MICT protocol involved five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment. Specifically, the researchers found a strikingly similar 19% improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness as determined by peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak), which compares favorably with the typical change reported after several months of traditional endurance training (MICT).

“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” says Gibala. “Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient — you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time. The basic principles apply to many forms of exercise. Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant.”

This project was supported by an operating grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and an internally-sponsored research grant from McMaster University to MJG.

McMaster | Gibala on HIIT

Abstract of Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment

Aims: We investigated whether sprint interval training (SIT) was a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve insulin sensitivity and other indices of cardiometabolic health to the same extent as traditional moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). SIT involved 1 minute of intense exercise within a 10-minute time commitment, whereas MICT involved 50 minutes of continuous exercise per session.

Methods: Sedentary men (27±8y; BMI = 26±6kg/m2) performed three weekly sessions of SIT (n = 9) or MICT (n = 10) for 12 weeks or served as non-training controls (n = 6). SIT involved 3×20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints (~500W) interspersed with 2 minutes of cycling at 50W, whereas MICT involved 45 minutes of continuous cycling at ~70% maximal heart rate (~110W). Both protocols involved a 2-minute warm-up and 3-minute cool-down at 50W.

Results: Peak oxygen uptake increased after training by 19% in both groups (SIT: 32±7 to 38±8; MICT: 34±6 to 40±8ml/kg/min; p<0.001 for both). Insulin sensitivity index (CSI), determined by intravenous glucose tolerance tests performed before and 72 hours after training, increased similarly after SIT (4.9±2.5 to 7.5±4.7, p = 0.002) and MICT (5.0±3.3 to 6.7±5.0 x 10−4 min-1[μU/mL]-1, p = 0.013) (p<0.05). Skeletal muscle mitochondrial content also increased similarly after SIT and MICT, as primarily reflected by the maximal activity of citrate synthase (CS; P<0.001). The corresponding changes in the control group were small for VO2peak (p = 0.99), CSI (p = 0.63) and CS (p = 0.97).

Conclusions: Twelve weeks of brief intense interval exercise improved indices of cardiometabolic health to the same extent as traditional endurance training in sedentary men, despite a five-fold lower exercise volume and time commitment.

Ultrasound allows for transmitting HD video through animal tissues

Imagine a miniature remote-controlled HD video camera that streams live video from a patient’s intestines to a physician
April 27, 2016

HD video transmission through human tissue from implanted medical devices via in-body ultrasonic communications: beef liver and pork loin were used to represent the density and moisture content found in human tissue (credit: UIUC)(credit: UIUC)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineers have demonstrated real-time video-rate (>30Mbps) “meat comm” data transmission through tissue, which could mean in-body ultrasonic communications may be possible for implanted medical devices, including hi-def video.

For example, a patient could swallow a miniaturized HD video camera that could stream live to an external screen, with the orientation of the device controlled wirelessly and externally by a physician, according to Andrew Singer, the Fox Family Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois,

“To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has ever sent such high data rates through animal tissue,” Singer added. “These data rates are sufficient to allow real-time streaming of high definition video, enough to watch Netflix, for example, and to operate and control small devices within the body.”

Ingestible cameras and other devices

Potential biomedical uses include ingestible cameras for imaging the digestive track, as well as lower-bandwidth devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators, glucose monitors and insulin pumps, intracranial pressure sensors, and epilepsy control.

Currently, most implanted medical devices use RF electromagnetic waves to communicate through the body. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the bandwidths that can be used for RF electromagnetic wave propagation available to implanted medical devices. For example, the Medical Device Radiocommunication Service (MDRS) designates frequencies of operation ranging from 401–406 MHz (where these is high absorption). The corresponding maximum bandwidth allowed is 300 kHz and a maximum of 50 kb/s.

The main limitation for using RF electromagnetic waves in the body is loss of signal that occurs because of attenuation in the body. That requires higher power, which can cause tissue damage from heating due to absorption.

“For underwater applications, radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic communications has long since been supplanted by acoustic communication,” Singer noted. “Acoustic or ultrasonic communication is the preferred communication means underwater because sound (pressure) waves exhibit dramatically lower losses than RF and can propagate tremendous distances for signals of modest bandwidth.”

The study was reported in an open-access paper on The researchers have received a provisional patent application on the high-definition ultrasonic technology. They will be presenting their findings at the 17th IEEE International Workshop on Signal Processing  Advances in Wireless Communications, this July in Edinburgh, UK.

Abstract of Mbps Experimental Acoustic Through-Tissue Communications: MEAT-COMMS

Methods for digital, phase-coherent acoustic communication date to at least the work of Stojanjovic, et al [20], and the added robustness afforded by improved phase tracking and compensation of Johnson, et al [21]. This work explores the use of such methods for communications through tissue for potential biomedical applications, using the tremendous bandwidth available in commercial medical ultrasound transducers. While long-range ocean acoustic experiments have been at rates of under 100kbps, typically on the order of 1- 10kbps, data rates in excess of 120Mb/s have been achieved over cm-scale distances in ultrasonic testbeds [19]. This paper describes experimental transmission of digital communication signals through samples of real pork tissue and beef liver, achieving data rates of 20-30Mbps, demonstrating the possibility of real-time video-rate data transmission through tissue for inbody ultrasonic communications with implanted medical devices.

Liz Parrish claims to have cut 20 years from her biological age. (Youtube/Singularity Weblog)

Liz Parrish claims to have cut 20 years from her biological age. (Youtube/Singularity Weblog)

A US woman may have proven that if you don’t want to age gracefully, you may not have to age at all.

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva – a firm that aims to “provide regenerative medicine to the masses” – claims to have cut her biological age by the equivalent of 20 years.

Ms Parrish has utilised the organisation’s own research and tools to lengthen the unusually short telomeres in her cells which left her susceptible to age-related diseases.

Telomeres are caps on the ends of DNA called chromosomes, and keep shortening as people grow older. When they reach a critical length, the cell stops dividing which causes the body to age.

A statement on Bioviva’s website claims tests were undertaken in March this year, independently verified by a Brussels-based not-for-profit HEALES, and the Biogerontology Research Foundation in the UK, claims her “white blood cells have become biologically younger”.

“If these results are anywhere near accurate, we’ve made history,” Ms Parrish said in a statement.

Ms Parrish began treatment in September last year, receiving two of Bioviva’s experimental gene therapies. The first was to protect against loss of muscle mass with age, and the second to combat stem cell depletion.

The procedures were undertaken outside the US to skirt around American regulatory delays.

However, the magical cure is not fully scientifically backed. It is unclear whether the study could be repeated in future patients.

“We haven’t established a causal link between telomere length and health,” Dana Glei, senior research investigator at Georgetown University, told The Scientist.

Subsequent findings and further developments from self-proclaimed ‘patient zero’ Ms Parrish will determine whether there is any merit to halting the ageing process.