Scientists to capture DNA of trees worldwide for database

The New York Botanical Garden may be best known for its orchid shows and colorful blossoms, but its researchers are about to lead a global effort to capture DNA from thousands of tree species from around the world.

The Bronx garden is hosting a meeting this week where participants from various countries will lay the groundwork for how the two-year undertaking to catalog some of the Earth’s vast biodiversity will proceed.

The project is known as TreeBOL, or tree barcode of life. As in a similar project under way focusing on the world’s fish species, participants would gather genetic material from trees around the world.

A section of the DNA would be used as a barcode, similar to way a product at the grocery store is scanned to bring up its price. But with plants and animals, the scanners look at the specific order of the four basic building blocks of DNA to identify the species.

The resulting database will help identify many of the world’s existing plant species, where they are located and whether they are endangered. The results are crucial for conservation and protecting the environment as population and development increases, said Damon Little, assistant curator of bioinformatics at the Botanical Garden and coordinator of the project.

(No way that this is only about identifying the species and finding out weather they are endangered or not.
What could a scientist possibly do with DNA?
Why have massive, high level security ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vaults been built just recently?
Just in case you have missed these articles:

‘Doomsday’ seed vault opens in Arctic

Investors Behind Doomsday Seed Vault May Provide Clues to Its Purpose (Part 2)

Hungary to start the world’s first wild seed bank

African seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault

Maybe, just maybe, could it be that this is more than a coincidence? …and there are no coincidences.
Maybe some of the – socially accepted – most powerful people in the world are expecting a catastrophe of epic proportions.
– The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreScientists to capture DNA of trees worldwide for database

Surgeons give hope to blind with successful bionic eye operations

Surgeons have carried out the first operations in Britain using a pioneering “bionic eye” that could in future help to restore the sight of the blind.

Two successful operations to implant the artificial electronic device into the eyes of two blind patients were conducted last week at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, it emerged today.

The device — the first of its kind in the world — incorporates a video camera and transmitter mounted on a pair of glasses.

This is linked to an artificial retina, which transmits moving images along the optic nerve to the brain, and enables a patient to discriminate rudimentary images of motion, light and dark.

The operations at Moorfields were conducted as part of an international clinical trial of the technology, known as the Argus II retinal implant, which has already proved successful in restoring rudimentary vision to blind patients with common causes of sight loss such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa.

Read moreSurgeons give hope to blind with successful bionic eye operations

Lasers used to make female flies act like males

Scientists have used a laser to control a female fly’s mind and make it sing “love songs” which are only ever sung by males. The ground-breaking research, which suggests the difference between the sexes may be much subtler than thought, was conducted using radical new technology which allows scientists to turn individual brain cells on and off by shining a light on them.

The research is predominantly the work of Gero Miesenböck, an Austrian scientist formerly of Yale University who has recently moved to Oxford. Nicknamed “Lord of the Flies” by contemporaries, Professor Miesenböck specialises in controlling fly movements by genetically modifying certain brain cells to make them sensitive to light.

This is the first time an animal’s sexual behaviour has been modified by such “mind control” techniques.

Read moreLasers used to make female flies act like males

Holographic storage ships next month!


Even since astronaut Dave Bowman disconnected the HAL 9000’s holographic memory in 2001: A Space Odyssey techies have been wondering when we could buy real holographic storage. Now we know: May, 2008.

Promising super-high density and excellent media flaw resistance, holographic storage has been an ever-receeding technology for years. You can buy nifty 3D skull and crossbones holograms – technically a form of storage – but no one had figured out how to turn a lab project into a product. Until now.

Read moreHolographic storage ships next month!

Vitamins A, C and E Increase Mortality! (and other nonsense from the realm of junk science)

(NaturalNews) The latest attack on vitamins A, C, E, selenium and beta-carotene comes from the Cochrane Library, a widely-read source of information on conventional health matters. In the paper published yesterday, these antioxidants were linked with a higher risk of mortality (“they’ll kill you!”), and now serious-sounding scientists have warned consumers away from taking vitamins altogether. But with all the benefits of antioxidants already well known to the well-informed, how did the Cochrane Library arrive at such a conclusion? It’s easy: The researchers considered 452 studies on these vitamins, and they threw out the 405 studies where nobody died! That left just 47 studies where subjects died from various causes (one study was conducted on terminal heart patients, for example). From this hand-picked selection of studies, these researchers concluded that antioxidants increase mortality.

Just in case the magnitude of the scientific fraud taking place here has not yet become apparent, let me repeat what happened: These scientists claimed to be studying the effects of vitamins on mortality, right? They were conducting a meta-analysis based on reviewing established studies. But instead of conducting an honest review of all the studies, they arbitrarily decided to eliminate all studies in which vitamins prevented mortality and kept people alive! They did this by “excluding all studies in which no participants died.” What was left to review? Only the studies in which people died from various causes.

Brilliant, huh? This sort of bass-ackward science would earn any teenager an “F” in high school science class. But apparently it’s good enough for the Cochrane Library, not to mention all the mainstream press outlets that are now repeating these silly conclusions as scientific fact.

Read moreVitamins A, C and E Increase Mortality! (and other nonsense from the realm of junk science)

The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see.

On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural TV channel) by French journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see. The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.

I highly recommend this video. This is so important.

Scientists take drugs to boost brain power: study

(Don’t you ever take drugs like Ritalin etc. That is lethal stuff, that destroys the brain
and you also become addicted to it. – The Infinite Unknown)

Twenty percent of scientists admit to using performance-enhancing prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, according to a survey released Wednesday by Nature, Britain’s top science journal.

The overwhelming majority of these med-taking brainiacs said they indulged in order to “improve concentration,” and 60 percent said they did so on a daily or weekly basis.

The 1,427 respondents — most of them in the United States — completed an informal, online survey posted on the “Nature Network” Web forum, a discussion site for scientists operated by the Nature Publishing Group.

More than a third said that they would feel pressure to give their children such drugs if they knew other kids at school were also taking them.

“These are academics working in scientific institutions,” Ruth Francis, who handles press relations for the group, told AFP.

The survey focused on three drugs widely available by prescription or via the Internet.

Ritalin, a trade name for methylphenidate, is a stimulant normally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially in children. Modafinil — marketed at Provigil — is prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but is also effective against general fatigue and jet lag.

Read moreScientists take drugs to boost brain power: study

Neuromarketing could make mind reading the ad-man’s ultimate tool

Neuroscience and marketing had a love child a few years back. Its name – big surprise – is neuromarketing, and the ugly little fellow is growing up. Corporate pitchmen have always wanted to get inside our skulls. The more accurately they can predict how we’ll react to stimuli in the marketplace, from prices to packages to adverts, the more money they can pull from our pockets and transfer to their employers’ coffers.

But picking the brains of consumers hasn’t been easy. Marketers have had to rely on indirect methods to read our thoughts and feelings. They’ve watched what we do in stores or tracked how purchases rise or fall in response to promotional campaigns or changes in pricing. And they’ve carried out endless surveys and focus groups, asking us what we buy and why.

The results have been mixed at best. People, for one thing, don’t always know what they’re thinking, and even when they do, they’re not always honest in reporting it. Traditional market research is fraught with bias and imprecision, which forces companies to fall back on hunches and rules of thumb.

But thanks to recent breakthroughs in brain science, companies can now actually see what goes on inside our minds when we shop. Teams of academic and corporate neuromarketers have begun to hook people up to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines to map how their neurons respond to products and pitches.

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GM Seeds Still Active in Soil 10 Years Later

Scientists discovered seeds from certain genetically modified crops can endure soil for at least 10 years in some cases.

A field planted with experimental oilseed rape a decade ago found transgenic specimens were still growing there despite intensive efforts over the years to remove the seeds, according to researchers in Sweden.

This is the first time a genetically modified crop has endured so long and critics say it shows that genetically modified organisms cannot be contained once released.

Tina D’Hertefeldt and a team of researchers from Lund University searched a small field that hosted the GM trial 10 years ago looking for “volunteers” – plants that have sprung up spontaneously from seed in the soil.

“We were surprised, very surprised,” said D’Hertefeldt. “We knew that volunteers had been detected earlier, but we thought they’d all have gone by now.”

Read moreGM Seeds Still Active in Soil 10 Years Later