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Category Archives: Chemistry
Panicked chemical giants seek leeway in court ban on their weed killers – US Right to Know – U.S. Right to Know
Citing an emergency, chemical giants BASF and DuPont have asked a federal court to allow them to intervene in a case in which the court earlier this month ordered their dicamba herbicides to be immediately banned along with a dicamba product made by Monsanto owner Bayer AG.
The action by the chemical companies follows a June 3 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had violated the law when it approved the dicamba products developed by Monsanto/Bayer, BASF and DuPont, owned by Corteva Inc.
The court ordered an immediate ban on use of each of the companys dicamba products, finding that the EPA substantially understated the risks of the dicamba herbicides and failed entirely to acknowledge other risks.
The EPA flouted that order, however, telling farmers they could continue to spray the herbicides in question through the end of July.
The consortium of farm and consumer groups that originally filed the case against the EPA rushed back to court last week, asking for an emergency order holding the EPA in contempt. The court gave the EPA until the end of the day Tuesday, June 16, to respond.
Uproar in Farm Country
The order banning the companys dicamba products has triggered an uproar in farm country because many soybean and cotton farmers planted millions of acres of dicamba-tolerant crops developed by Monsanto with the intent of treating weeds in those fields with the dicamba herbicides made by the three companies.
The dicamba crop system provides for farmers to plant their fields with dicamba-tolerant crops, which they can then spray over-the-top with dicamba weed killer. The system has both enriched the companies selling the seeds and chemicals and and helped farmers growing the special dicamba-tolerant cotton and soy deal with stubborn weeds that are resistant to glyphosate-based Roundup products.
But for the large number of farmers who do not plant the genetically engineered dicamba-tolerant crops, widespread use of dicamba herbicides has meant damage and crop losses because dicamba tends to volatize and drift long distances where it can kill crops, trees and shrubs that are not genetically altered to withstand the chemical.
The companies claimed their new versions of dicamba would not volatize and drift as older versions of dicamba weed killing products were known to do. But those assurances proved false amid widespread complaints of dicamba drift damage. More than one million acres of crop damage was reported last year in 18 states, the federal court noted in its ruling.
Many farmers initially celebrated the court ruling and were relieved that their farms and orchards would be spared this summer from the dicamba damage theyve experienced in prior summers. But the relief was short-lived when the EPA said it would not immediately enforce the court-ordered ban.
In a filing made Friday, BASF pleaded with the court not to enforce an immediate ban and told the court that it will need to close a manufacturing facility in Beaumont, Texas, that currently operates 24 hours a day nearly continuously through the year if it is not able to produce its dicamba herbicide brand called Engenia. BASF has spent $370 million in recent years improving the plant and employs 170 people there, the company said.
Noting significant investments in its product, BASF also told the court that there is enough of its product currently throughout its customer channel to treat 26.7 million acres of soybeans and cotton. BASF has an additional $44 million worth of the Engenia dicamba product in its possession, enough to treat 6.6 million acres of soybeans and cotton, the company said.
DuPont/Corteva made a similar argument, telling the court in its filing that the ban directly harms the company as well as the many farmers across this country that are in the midst of the growing season. It will damage the companys reputation if its herbicide is banned, the company told the court.
Moreover, DuPont/Corteva expects to generate significant revenues from the sales of its dicamba herbicide, called FeXapan and will lose that money if the ban is enforced, the company said.
Monsanto was active in the case supporting the EPA approvals prior to the ruling, but both BASF and DuPont asserted wrongly that the court case applied only to Monsantos products and not to theirs. The court made it clear, however, that the EPA illegally approved the products made by all three companies.
Led by the Center for Food Safety, the petition against the EPA was also brought by the National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, and Pesticide Action Network North America.
In asking the court to find the EPA in contempt, the consortium warned of the crop damage to come if the dicamba products are not banned immediately.
EPA cannot get away with allowing the spraying of 16 million more pounds of dicamba and resulting damage to millions of acres, as well as significant risks to hundreds of endangered species, the consortium said in its filing. Something else is at stake too: the rule of law. The Court must act to prevent injustice and uphold the integrity of the judicial process. And given the blatantdisregard EPA showed for the Courts decision, Petitioners urge the Court to hold EPA in contempt.
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Panicked chemical giants seek leeway in court ban on their weed killers - US Right to Know - U.S. Right to Know
WNBAs proposed return-to-play plan could benefit Sky: Chemistry is always the key – Chicago Sun-Times
As the WNBA continues to mull a return-to-play plan, Sky coach James Wade returned to Chicago this week after spending the last several months in Montpellier, France, with his family.
Could this be a positive sign?
I guess, Wade said in his typical sly way. I dont know.
ESPN reported Friday that the league proposed a 22-game regular season that would be played at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Florida. Under this tentative plan, the season could start as early as July 24, and players reportedly would earn 100% of their salaries.
The playoff format would remain the standard length, ESPN reported. The season must end by Oct. 31, according to the collective-bargaining agreement.
Players will vote on the proposal over the weekend. If approved, a formal announcement is expected Monday.
Wade has seen the reports but said he hasnt received any additional information about the upcoming season, which originally was scheduled to start May 15 but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He remains optimistic, however, that the WNBA will have a season. He pointed to the recent developments from other American professional sports leagues, such as the NBA and National Womens Soccer League, which have agreed to resume play in the near future, as positive signs.
The first key is the health and safety of everyone, Wade said. I feel like if that can be done with minimal risk, I think that would be great. And, of course, I think everybody thats in the WNBA, to make it on that level, either coaching or playing, they have a high competitive spirit. I think everybody wants to play.
If the league and players union agree to go forward with a shortened season, the Sky might have an upper hand on some of their opponents.
Chemistry is always the key, Wade said. I think us having a familiarity with each other and knowing each other and really liking to be with each other is going to help, especially with the quick turnaround, and that potentially can happen.
The Sky had an undeniably strong bond last season, which helped them go from a 10th-place finish in 2018 to a top-five team in the league in 2019 under first-year coach Wade.
While the landscape of the league changed drastically this offseason, with several high-profile players deciding to leave their teams in free agency, the Sky brought back most of their roster from last season.
Many Sky players have alluded to having unfinished business after their postseason run fell short. But guard Kahleah Copper, who re-signed with the Sky in February, also pointed to the teams closeness as a reason she decided to stay.
This team feels like home, Copper said. Theres just something about the vibrancy and just our vibes as a whole. Its just unmatched and undeniable, and theres no way that I could go anywhere else.
With training camp this year likely being shorter than in previous seasons, the Sky wont have to waste valuable time getting acquainted with one another. And Jantel Lavender said she thinks itll be a smooth transition from last season to this one.
Weve had Zoom meetings where we meet every week, so were staying in touch with each other to try to keep that chemistry and keep that flame alive, she said. I think well pick up where we left off, just hungry and ready to play and ready to win.
Global warming is the biggest challenge we have ever faced.
Since the first industrial revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) a powerful greenhouse gas in the atmosphere has increased by almost 50%, which is causing a steep rise in globaltemperature. Controlling its increase and keeping temperature risebelow 1.5 degrees is necessary to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. However, that likely requires stopping new emissions immediately and reducing the excess CO2 that is already in the atmosphere.
Scientists are developing technologies that can literally suck CO2 from the air with huge fans. This technique, called direct air capture (DAC), uses either adsorption where CO2 sticks to a surface or chemical reactions which capture and use CO2 to create something else.
DAC is implemented in pilot plants by several companies in Europe and North America, and on an industrial scale bya Swiss company calledClimeworks.Theyplan to suck one percent of the global CO2 emission in 2025. For this task, they will need to install around 750,000 DAC units.
After removing CO2 from the air, DAC plants have to get rid of it. One way to do that is to pump it underground, where it essentially turns into rock. They can also sell the CO2 for use ingreenhouses (CO2 is a potent fertilizer) and carbonated drinks, or fuel, polymers, and concrete.
Coming up with new ways to use commercialize extracted CO2, once it's sucked out of the air, can inspire new technology that reduces atmospheric CO2.
Recently, scientists from the University of Southern California have developed a simple method to turn CO2 into methanol. The conversion happens without complicated purification or separation steps.
Gas combusting in a flare
In a more traditional method, the separation of the captured CO2 requires temperatures higher than 700C.In this novel technique, potassium hydroxide, a base, captures CO2 and forms a compound called potassium formate. At this point, adding hydrogen should, theoretically, produce methanol. However, it turned out to be not that easy. This step represented the main challenge that the researchers had to face. As they write, in baldly scientific style, "further hydrogenation [addition of hydrogen] of the formate...was found to be ineffective."
Going back to the literature, they tried a new approach, which they hoped would lead to producing methanol but through a different route. They dunked the whole reaction in alcohol, addeda catalyst to speed it up, and increased the temperature, obtaining the total conversion of CO2 to methanol in 20 hours.
Simple "one-pot" conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into methanol (CH3OH)
This method still requires some adjustments.The reaction is cyclical you end up with the same material in the pot, plus the methanol, at the end of the reaction as you had in the beginning. Different components wander off and turn into other chemicals, but are regenerated at the end in the same proportion they were in at the beginning. But the base does gets consumed.If the researchers can overcome this issue, this technique can be easily scaled up and added to existing plants.
But, there's more.For it to be energetically efficient, the production of hydrogenmust be derived fromsplitting waterwithrenewable sources of energy (such as from solar power). This method is not widely available yet, but it is being testedin a series ofHYDROSOL projects.
Right now, most of the hydrogen used in the chemical industry comes from fossil fuels. The steam reformingmethod cheap and common butenergetically demanding heats up methane gas and water at very high temperature (700-1100 C) to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen. With these plants popping up more and more, we could see large-scale sustainable CO2 to methanol conversion in a few years.
But then what will do we do with all of that methanol?
We can either use itas it is, as fuel or antifreeze, or as a reactant to produce more chemicals.The first case is understandably not the solution to our CO2 problem: as a fuel, methanol burns and produces new CO2 that goes back into the atmosphere. This process, described as it is, is a carbon-neutral process, and not carbon-negative as we need.Subtracting CO2 from the atmosphere is not enough if global emissions do not decrease.
On the other end, methanol can be used to produce solvents, resins, low weight polymers, long-lasting materials that don't liberate CO2 immediately.However, for it to be carbon negative, it is necessary to consider the balance between the stored carbon and the oneproduced during the synthesis of these materials.
More investments in this kind of research are necessary to reduce the production of CO2 altogether. This topic is delicate and involves scientists, policymakers, andthe choices consumersmake along the way: The cars we buy (or rather don't), the flights we take (or rather don't), the electricity source we choose for our own houses. But by and large, the people thatwe elect to lead us in these decisions.
Essay criticizing efforts to increase diversity in organic synthesis deleted after backlash from chemists – Chemical & Engineering News
Credit: Angewandte Chemie, International Edition
Hudlick's essay has now been removed from Angewandte Chemie's website.
A June 5 essay on the state of organic synthesis sparked immediate outcry from chemists due to the authors criticism of efforts to increase representation of women and underrepresented groups in the field. The journal that published the essay, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, has since removed the article from its web site and suspended two of its editors, while it investigates the editorial process that led to the essays publication. Several members of the journals international advisory board have also resigned in protest over the essay.
The piece, written by Tom Hudlick of Brock University in recognition of the 83rd birthday of organic chemist Dieter Seebach, reflects on factors that influence how the field of organic synthesis continues to develop. One of the factors that Hudlick discusses is workforce diversity. He argues that efforts to promote diversity have prioritized inclusion of certain groups of people at the expense of meritocracy.
After immediate and intense criticism of the piece by chemists on social media, the journal quickly deleted the essay from its website. The digital object identifier (DOI), a universal code used to identify published articles, first sent readers to a page not found error message, and now redirects to a statement by the journals editor in chief, Neville Compton.
In that statement, Compton writes that while diversity of opinion and thoughts can spur change and debate, this essay had no place in our journal. Compton added that the journal will share the actions we are implementing within the next week to ensure this will not happen again. Angewandte Chemie is the official journal of the German Chemical Society (GDCh). In a follow-up statement released on June 8, the German Chemical Society apologized for the publication of the essay. The statement added that two editors involved in the essays publication have been suspended and the referees who reviewed the essay will no longer be used as peer reviewers for the journal.
On June 9, Angewandte Chemie shared a more detailed list of actions that the journal and its publisher have taken since the essay was published. The publisher has established an interim editor-in-chief committee made up of four employees from the editorial department of Wiley-VCH. This committee will take full editorial responsibility for Angewandte Chemie. Wiley-VCH has not confirmed Comptons status at the publication. The journal says it is introducing a new process for peer-reviewing opinion pieces that will rely on experts in the topic of the essay instead of reviewers from the field of the journal. The journal also pledges to build more diversity within the editorial and advisory boards and develop new editorial guidelines incorporating diversity equality and inclusion principles and practices. An external review is planned to evaluate the journals processes, while an internal review is ongoing.
On social media, some researchers have stated that they have already withdrawn articles for consideration by the journal and others have told C&EN that they are considering ending their membership of the GDCh.
On June 8, 16 chemists issued a joint statement announcing they were resigning from Angewandte Chemies international advisory board. In the statement, the chemists denounced the essay and the process by which it was published before adding that their resignation provides the journal with an opportunity to reconstitute the Board in a way that reflects our broader communty and society. One of the 16, Cathleen Crudden, a chemist at Queens University, had originally announced her resignation from the board on June 5. She says she felt she could no longer have her name associated with the journal. In addition to this one instance, Angewandte Chemie has shown a significant lack of leadership in terms of addressing issues related to equity, so I felt it was time for me to remove my name from their board, she wrote in statement emailed to C&EN.
The Royal Society of Chemistry, American Chemical Society, German Chemical Society, and Chemical Research Society of India released a joint statement on June 8 that didnt address the essay directly but stated that sexism, racism, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and many other forms of inequality are sadly all too prevalent in the chemical sciences, both at individual and institutional levels. And the provost of Brock University, Greg Finn, released an open letter on June 7, in which he wrote that The statements contained in the paper are not representative of the Brock community and that further response was being considered.
Chemists criticizing the essay say that the opinions expressed by Hudlick point to much wider problems within the chemistry community, which has failed to adequately address overt and covert discrimination against chemists who are members of underrepresented groups. Fixing this is not about removing one article, says Jen Heemstra, a chemist at Emory University and author of C&ENs Office Hours column. It is about dismantling the pervasive, toxic culture that selects for and promotes these values.
As an experienced recruiter and a leader of a large group of chemists in the pharmaceutical sector, I can tell you that these views [expressed by Hudlick] are not only factually wrong, they represent the exact types of biases that have long plagued the field of organic chemistry, says L.-C. Campeau, executive director, head of Process Chemistry and Discovery Process Chemistry at Merck & Co. In our own work, weve benefited immensely from a more inclusive culture and increased diversity leading to more creative solutions to the unprecedented scientific problems that we solve every day in our quest to improve human health.
In fact, studies have shown that students from underrepresented minority groups innovate at higher rates than majority students, but their novel contributions are discounted and less likely to earn them academic positions (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2020, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1915378117). Also, in one study, scientists from groups underrepresented in the sciences were less likely to get invited or assigned to give talks at scientific meetings (Nature 2019, DOI: 10.1038/d41586-019-03688-w).
Hudlick feels that his essay had been taken out of context and he stands by what he wrote, adding that he has received emails of support as well as criticism since the article was published and then deleted. He points out the diversity of his own research group, and explains that he is not against diversity, instead he is arguing against preferential hiring of one group over another.
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Hudlick confirms that the article had gone through peer review and that Angewandte Chemie had not informed him before it removed his article from the journals site. He describes attempts to destroy his career and those of the editors who handled his essay as going beyond censorship. He argues that his article should not have been deleted from the literature record and instead the journal should have invited chemists to write rebuttals.
The real tragedy is that this article does not represent an isolated opinion, says Andy Cooper, an organometallic chemist at the University of Liverpool. Most of us have seen or experienced this kind of stuff up close, and it needs to change.
The surprise, says Csar A. Urbina-Blanco, a postdoc at the University of Ghent, is that the views made it through peer review and were published by what he felt was a respected journal. The hard work that chemistry needs to do, he says, involves looking at where these attitudes survive, something that has too often fallen to those who are most affected by them. Minorities are the only ones starting these conversations when we shouldnt have to be, he says. Academia is where we belong, but its not us who need to change.
An international team of scientists has demonstrated that chemical changes in the ocean during Permian-Triassic extinction event were directly caused by the collapse of terrestrial ecosystems.
In the past 550 million years, Earth has experienced five mass extinction events. The worst of these events was the Permian-Triassic extinction, also known as the Great Dying, which killed 9 out of every 10 marine species and 7 out of every 10 terrestrial species.
Warming temperatures during the Permian period led to an explosion in diversity among terrestrial species. By the end of the Permian, however, climate conditions had become unsuitable for most life.
While the cause of the abrupt climate change is unclear, many scientists believe it was the result of catastrophic volcanic activity in a region known as the Siberian Traps.
A collection of research has shown that terrestrial ecosystems were wiped out prior to marine ecosystems. The new study confirms, for the first time, that the deterioration of land species directly impacted ocean composition.
The researchers built a computer model to map chemical changes in Earths oceans during the period of the Permian-Triassic extinction. The model tracked both mercury and carbon cycles, which made it possible to distinguish between biological and volcanic events.
The study revealed that the collapse of terrestrial ecosystems bombarded the ocean with organic matter, nutrients, and other biologically-important elements. For most marine organisms, the chemical changes caused fatal effects.
In this study we show that during the Permian-Triassic transition, roughly. 252 million years ago, the widespread collapse of the terrestrial ecosystems caused sudden changes in marine chemistry, said study co-author Dr. Jacopo Dal Corso of the University of Leeds.
This likely played a central role in triggering the most severe known marine extinction in Earths history. This deep-time example shows how important the terrestrial reservoir is in regulating global biogeochemical cycles and calls for the greater conservation of these ecosystems.
The study places new emphasis on the importance of understanding the functional interdependance of ecosystems. This is particularly relevant today, as human activities threaten to push many species past the point of survival.
252 million years ago the effects of mass plant death and soil oxidation appear to have seriously altered the chemistry of the oceans. This is an uncomfortable parallel with our own human-driven land use change, and we too are transferring large quantities of nutrients and other chemicals to the oceans, said study co-author Dr. Benjamin Mills.
As we look to re-start the worlds economies in the wake of the current pandemic, protecting our life-sustaining ecosystems should be a priority.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer
There is something strong in the air with the Denver Broncos.
Relationships are starting to form with quarterback Drew Lock and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. It began with Lock hyped about the selection of Jeudy in the NFL Draft and has now transferred to throwing sessions with teammates.
I'm told Drew Lock and a number of Broncos players are going full offense, running through the playbook on their own away from the facility. Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler, Ja'Wuan James, Dalton Risner among them. Phillip Lindsay is a regular. Jerry Jeudy joined them last weekend.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and new life, we all are living differently and NFL teams have been figuring out how to find time for workout schedules in the midst of all this. One area where that can be done is the throwing sessions.
Ever since Lock started with the Denver Broncos, there has been an awakening to the print media that is flocking to hype this second-year quarterback from Missouri. However, humility remains true with Lock, who is keeping a level head and not changing the person he is. These practices with his teammates and new friends will only jumpstart a rapport for the 2020 season. New offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur spoke about Lock and about this 'rumor' of team gatherings.
Theres a rumor that hes working with the players by himself. Thats a rumor that I heard. Also, along with that rumor, I heard its going well.
Pat Shurmur (via Denver Broncos PR)
Shurmur mentioned Lock and being a teacher through the Zoom meetings. With the pandemic, the changes that came in the NFL are mainly teams having their offseason programs strictly through virtual meetings. This means the coaches become the teacher and that it is up to the players to get better and train on their own time.
Thus, it leads us back to Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy again. Jeudy is well regarded as one of the hardest workers to enter this draft class. Every since his freshman days and possibly earlier Jeudys work ethic is unmatched.
Lock was spotted on multiple occasions working out with players and doing throwing sessions. Jeudy and Lock are fierce competitors who know what it takes to succeed.
Just watch for yourself.
News broke that Jeudy and Lock are doing throwing sessions. If Lock has already formed strong chemistry with Courtland Sutton who is the incumbent number one wide receiver, then who is to say this cannot happen with Jeudy also?
Lock was given the keys to a brand new Ferrari offense. There is a chance Jeudy and Lock can form a strong bond that will lead to a solid campaign for Jeudy. Because of this, it can result in the possibility Denver has two 1,000-yard wide receivers in 2020. Lock has every tool in this offensive arsenal to be effective in the upcoming season.
Next: 5 reasons to buy the Drew Lock hype
If this chemistry is strong enough to translate from the throwing sessions to the games, the Broncos will be humming with all the pistons firing. The class has been in session and the homework is paying off.