Lab-Created Minibrains Can Help Better Study Certain Disorders


Scientists are trying to determine how minibrains can better predict future diseases in children.

Stem cell research has provided scientists with ways to better study and treat certain disorders. Recently, a group of scientists from Harvard and Stanford collaborated to investigate how small-scale copies of neurons called minibrains can better predict future diseases in children. The study was funded by the NIH or the National Institutes of Health and revealed some captivating results. These were published in a paper in the journal Nature.

What are Minibrains, and How are they Made?

By first isolating human skin cells in a laboratory, specialists then reprogramed the cells so that they could convert to brain cells. These cells matured into larger masses in a petri dish. Dr. Sergiu Pasca, an assistant of behavioral sciences at Stanford, stated that the cells were equivalent to those of a fetus after two weeks of pregnancy.

Certain disorders and diseases form during the brain’s growth as a fetus, including strains of Asperger’s and Timothy Syndrome. With replicas of fetal brain cells, scientists can now observe what may cause, treat, and cure such ailments.

The Harvard team extracted cells from a healthy child and one with Timothy Syndrome. When healthy brain cells migrate to send signals to other parts of the body, they literally jump from one mass to another. Researchers found that the cells of those with Timothy Syndrome and autism had trouble “jumping” and made slower movements.

The teams hypothesized that the lack of motion was due to an over-absorption of calcium by the cells. They used blood pressure medications designed to block calcium intake on one dish.

“If you do treat the cultures with this calcium blocker, you can restore the migration of cells in a dish,” says Pasca.

The success of applying the calcium blockers gives scientists hope that this will one day help better understand the human brain.

“It helps us to understand [human brain development], a process that we don’t understand very well.” says Paola Arlotta, Harvard’s stem cell team leader.

With these minibrains, researchers now have the tools they need to not only observe but also test and possibly cure diseases outside of the body itself but beneficial for it.

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NASA Released Stunning New Images Of Nighttime Earth

nighttime Earth

Amazing photos released by NASA show the nighttime Earth with a clarity never seen before.

Amazing photos recently released by NASA show the nighttime Earth with a clarity never seen before. They show probably the most clear images of human expansion across the planet. The showcase the light from cities and towns across the globe.

The highly enhanced nighttime Earth images were released on Wednesday

In a composite satellite image released by the administration, the lights from nighttime Earth show up in startling detail, with a resolution so fine it allows zooming in to a very close level. The series of images was taken by VIIRS, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, over the last year. The composite picture makes up the first global night image released since 2012.

This type of photo is usually developed every ten years, but NASA and other space agencies are considering increasing the frequency of this model generation. These photos can be extremely valuable in studying the urban sprawl, migration patterns, and the weather. In fact, starting with this year, NASA is hoping to begin gathering data on a daily basis to more accurately measure electrical usage across the globe.

The images collected this year are of a far higher resolution than those collected in 2012. A closer examination shows extensive growth in developing countries, mainly in southern and southeast Asia.

The difficulties in taking images of the nighttime Earth can be surprising. Between varying amounts of light striking the Earth at any point, to the passing phases of the moon, there can be many complications.

The VIIRS satellite has improved technology making the photography process much more accurate and simple. It is capable of detecting light in twenty-two different wavelengths, making it more sensitive than any similar satellite currently in orbit. In fact, it is so accurate it was able to map electrical outages during Hurricane Matthew’s march across the Caribbean. This technology’s future applications and potential are still being discovered.

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The Welwalk WW-1000 Is A Robotic Leg Brace From Toyota

robotic leg brace

Toyota recently presented the Welwalk WW-1000, a wearable robotic leg brace.

Toyota recently presented the Welwalk WW-1000, a wearable robotic leg brace which may come to be used as a rehabilitation tool. It may also be used to try and help partially paralyzed people walk again.

Toyota’s New Robotic Leg Brace Could Be A Useful Rehabilitation Tool

The Welwalk WW-1000 robotic brace is constructed as a motorized mechanical frame. This can then be attached to a person’s leg, starting with their knee downwards. After being fitted with it, the patient can practice walking on a specially adapted treadmill. It will reportedly support the person’s weight and ensure their equilibrium as they exercise.

This new robotic leg brace is being developed and released by the Toyota Motor Corp. The company presented the device and offered a demonstration of its abilities on Wednesday. It was shown during a special presentation which invited reporters at its Tokyo headquarters.

According to a statement from the company, Toyota will not just release the robotic leg brace; it will also start renting it out. More exactly, 100 Welwalk WW-1000 products will be let to several medical facilities across Japan. They will be sent sometime later this year. According to Toyota, the service will come with an initial charge of around $9,000 or 1 million yen. Its monthly fee was valued at about $3,200 or 350,000 yen.

Eiichi Saito went to explain that this product was designed to be worn on one leg at a time. Saito is a medical doctor and the Fujita Health University executive vice-president. Toyota collaborated with the University while developing this new device.

According to Saito, the Welwalk WW-1000 should prove useful for patients that have been ‘severely paralyzed’ on one body side due to either a stroke or another ailment. He also stated that the robotic leg brace should help enough so as to quicken the recovery pace but not slow the overall process.

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Maple Syrup Extract May Be Better Than Believed For The Health

maple syrup extract

The latest Canadian research found a new way of using maple syrup extract.

The latest Canadian research found a new way of using maple syrup extract. This could be used in order to treat and combat drug-resistant bacteria or superbugs. It could do so as it would offer a natural, healthy alternative to the use or overuse of antibiotics.

The research was carried out by McGill University scientists. It was led by Nathalie Tufenkji, Ph.D. They presented their results earlier this week, during the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society which is being held in San Francisco.

Maple Syrup Extract Could Help Reduce The Use Of Antibiotics

According to the study, by using maple syrup extract, the team was able to cut back on the use of antibiotics. They did so as they mixed the two elements, and resulted in a lowering of the latter. As they started using the extract, the researchers cut back on medicine by as much as 97 percent in some of the cases. Also, even when doing so, they achieved the same results.

The study paper shows that this maple syrup-antibiotics mixture was able to help moth larvae and fruit flies survive for a longer period of time. Previously, these had been exposed to harmful bacteria. According to research, the animals treated with this combination presented better results than the ones that only received an antibiotics treatment.

“We found that these phenolic extracts from maple syrup extract actually energize with antibiotics to protect these insects from infection.”

Tufenkji and her team were able to remove the water and sugar from the maple syrup extract and to isolate its phenolic compounds. Then, they went to mix this with carbenicillin and ciprofloxacin. This combination was effective in combating quite a range of bacterial strains, including, for example, the E.coli.

The research team will continue carrying out studies on the matter. According to reports, they are currently testing the combination on mice.

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FCC Moves to Banish Illegal Robocalls


FCC wants to track down and block illegal robocalls.

Robocalls have made life easier for illegal intentions, yet harder for households. These annoyances look just like regular phone calls except that at the other side of the line is a robot who doesn’t listen. Instead, they are repeating the text they’ve been programmed to deliver. This system of prerecorded calls is not safe. Scammers have been taken advantage of this for ages by pretending to call from official institutions and asking for funds. Because of their intrusive nature, FFC wants to banish illegal robocalls for good.

FCC Will Collaborate with Phone Companies to Identifiy Illegal Robocalls

On Thursday, the Federal Communication Commission announced that the authorities are planning a series of rules against illegal robocalls. Through them, the FCC hopes to be able to identify and block phone scams. For this, they need to cooperate with phone companies to target unassigned or illegitimate phone numbers.

According to the Chairman of FCC, Ajit Pai, there are around 2.4 billion artificial calls that contact people each month. He stated that the majority have a fraudulent nature.

“Robo-calls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the FCC from members of the American public.”

The Public Punishes Corporations as Well if They Force Robocalls on Them

Other reports from FCC show that there is at least 1 in 10 Americans who has been falling victim to such a scam. Companies also had something to lose if they tried to appeal to this marketing channel. For instance, PayPal back in 2015 managed to force some of its users to agree on their new robocall campaign. However, as the organization started to receive large waves of criticism even from lawmakers, PayPal redrew this strategy from the market.

Ajit Pai is more concerned with the illegal robocalls than those coming from corporations and institutions. The practice that bypasses security is the spoofing method. Contacted people see an official phone number calling them when scammers are actually using another number. This way, the origin of the call is deceitful.

Thus, the proposal targets illegal robocalls mostly. The authorities may finish their paper by the end of the year. The public can also play a proactive role and submit their feedback. This way, Americans are one step closer to having a peaceful evening without annoying artificial calls. Telecommunications companies are also on board with this direction, especially Verizon and AT&T.

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Tablet Sales Dwindle While Market Receives New Flagship Gadgets


Tablet sales continue to slip which raises questions regarding their popularity.

In the span of just a month, both Samsung and Apple revitalized the line of tablets for the first time in three years. Nonetheless, this passive period of time experienced industry changes. The overall tablet sales didn’t manage to proliferate at all. Specialists are beginning to wonder if the public has any consideration left for this type of tech product.

Tablet Sales Decreased 20% Annually

In the fourth quarter, IDC consulted the numbers and drew out a declining situation for tablet sales. The number of shipments of such a product dropped 20% year over year. At the same time, Strategic Analytics registered double losses in this domain. In comparison, the introduction of the first tablets on the market sparked the remark that they would become greater than PCs. However, manufacturers are far from seeing the desired rate to which clients are updating their tablet collections.

Jitesh Ubrani is a senior analyst at IDC. According to him, consumers are still using their first generation of iPads.

“People have been hanging onto these devices, and they’re finding that they work just as well as they did when they were released.”

Manufacturers Need a Tablet Revolution to Revitalize the Market

There are few possible reasons that triggered the stagnation of a promising market. First of all, customers didn’t receive any incentive to refresh their tablet collections at the same rate as they do with their smartphones. Many users are employing their devices sporadically. This is why there is no wearing factor to urge them to replace them with the latest model.

Other experts are linking this negative phenomenon to the lack of innovation. While smartphones and laptops receive a booming warm up campaign prior to their release, consumers feel no eagerness for the launch of a new tablet. Furthermore, the technology that empowers tablets remained almost the same. By comparison, manufacturers strived to come up with the latest specs for their smartphones.

Another obstacle that tablets failed to overcome is the growing size of mobile gadgets. There are some tendencies on the market for smartphones to become slimmer and with larger displays. This trend turned them into a hybrid between a phone and a tablet. Thus, consumers don’t feel the need to carry a tablet with them when their smartphone can do so much more than other such gadgets.

However, not everything is lost with the tablet sales. There are still tens of millions of units being shipped to customers all over the world each quarter. However, companies need to create a massive evolution for tablets to surpass PCs in popularity.

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Treasury Appeals to Congress to Fix Debt Default

U.S. treasury department

The Treasury Department will have to deal with severe consequences if the Congress doesn’t tackle the debt default.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary of the United States, started an initiative to address the debt default of the U.S. government. He wants the government to postpone the scheduled payments for its bonds. As a consequence, Steven Mnuchin asked the House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to increase debt limit at the first occasion.

On Thursday, Steven Mnuchin sent a letter to Paul D. Ryan in which he stated that the federal government is in full work on its tax policies. As a consequence, at this moment the government is usually adjourning the sale of certain local and state securities. Other strategies employed are going to regard the payment delay to several pension funds in an effort to not fall behind on other more important payments. However, these delays will eventually catch up with the government. At that point, there will be no other temporary solution left than to admit the fact that they don’t have money anymore to pay off the bills.

Thus, in his letter to Paul D. Ryan, Mnuchin declared that paying the outstanding debt represents a priority for the Treasury that would not be taken lightly. This is why Mnuchin urges Congress to tackle the debt default with the first rising opportunity and change the deadline. Only then will the Treasury be able to continue its common priorities.

The Treasury Department is entitled to perform payments each year that are usually known as Social Security checks. This way, the institution can cover Medicare bills, research, care for veterans, funds for the military, and other projects as well. By the end of the year, the Treasury ends up dealing with trillions of dollars in a complicated system.

However, this year, budget experts signaled a sensitive situation. If the Treasury Secretary fails to convince Congress to raise the debt limit by August, there will be some troublesome consequences. One of them could be that the government will have no other options to fix the debt default and it will have to admit that it failed to respect its obligations.

By the end of the fiscal year which is on September 30th, the Congressional Budget Office expects the government to spend $3.963 trillion. On the other hand, the national revenue will amount to $3.404 trillion. Thus, the deficit will be around $559 billion. CBO predicted that the publicly held debt would round up to $14.8 trillion.

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Uber Employees to Leave because of Broken Culture

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Broken culture at Uber has encouraged employees to seek other workplaces.

The Bay Area has recently become an active area for recruiters. They recorded a surge of job applications. Most of CVs are not from ambitious young students, but from workers with extensive expertise that come especially from the Uber Technologies Inc. In light of recent scandals that engulfed the ride-hail company from all fronts, people no longer want their professional work to be related to a leadership that disregards social and moral values. Moreover, the company is also on the brink of having its stock options drop in value because of a broken culture.

In a span of five weeks, Uber Technologies Inc. Uber had to face numerous crises. As a consequence, the main target customers of the company who are already hooked on online medium turned against the company. There is already a hashtag against Uber, namely #DeleteUber, that promotes the elimination of the application of the company from all smartphones. Instead, people encourage clients to use similar  ride-hail companies.

Even though Uber was once a unicorn type of company within the Silicon Valley, an increased number of employees are thinking of living this successful project. One recruiter who used to work for the downgraded company noticed several professionals who no longer want to work for Uber, even though their situation is a comfortable one. The reason behind this hastiness is a broken culture where employees have no more faith in management.

While the company was trying to mitigate a serious issue last week, the job applications started to flood the desks of recruiters. The scandal in question was about two former Uber employees who blamed the company of sexism and harassment. At the moment, Uber is valued at $70bn. This means that a simple manager has an RSU worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thus, employees who are applying for other jobs are willingly walking away from a fortune in stock options.

The president at SCGC Executive Search, Guillaume Champagne, stated that back days it was difficult to steal talents from Uber. One of the reasons why this was a demanding task was that nobody was planning to depart from their stock options too easily. However, as there are more people now that are willing to give this opportunity away, recruiters are of the opinion that the awful work environment played the main role in this type of decisions.

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AppDynamics Is Cisco’s Next Big Acquisition

cisco appdynamics logo

Cisco Systems announced earlier this week that it will be buying AppDynamics.

Cisco Systems announced earlier this week that it will be buying AppDynamics, the software company, in a $3.7 billion acquisition deal.

AppDynamics, Inc. is a San Francisco, California-based company. It is specialized in APM and ITOA. APM is application performance management. And ITOA is IT Operations Analytics.

The privately held company was founded in 2008. AppDynamics is focused on the following action. It manages the availability and performance of various applications. The process is followed across data centers and cloud computing environments.

AppDynamics generated a $158.4 million revenue in the first nine months of 2016. Before the sales deal, it was in the process of going public.

However, on Tuesday, Cisco announced that the two companies reached a sales agreement. Cisco Systems will be acquiring the software company.

Cisco, Systems Inc. is a technology conglomerate. The multinational was founded in 1984. It is headquartered in San Jose, California. Cisco sells, develops, and manufactures high-technology products and services. These include telecommunications equipment and networking hardware.

Cisco is also specialized in specifically targeted tech markets. It activates in domain security, energy management, and IoT. These specializations are helped along by their subsidiaries. Cisco is considered one of the world’s largest networking companies.

Now, the conglomerate is reportedly looking to grow beyond the networking business. Their AppDynamics deal will be one of the largest acquisitions. At least over the past several years.

Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s VP of Corporate Development went to offer some details. According to him, the company has been following AppDynamics. Cisco has been interested in the company for some time. And their IPO process offered Cisco quite a chance.

AppDynamics was in the process of going public. It would have been the first tech company to do so this year. Banking analysts had already estimated its value. AppDynamics could have went as high as around $2 billion.

The company was expected to sell off its shares. And their valuation was expected at approximately $1.9 billion. AppDynamics’s per share value would have been at around $10 to $12.

Its acquisition will nonetheless raise its share value. Cisco has agreed to a $3.7 billion sales value. As such, AppDynamics shares will be at around $26 per share. The acquisition deal will be an equity awards and cash mix.

According to Cisco, it is expected to close sometimes in the company’s third fiscal quarter. The sales deal was officially announced in a Cisco press release. This was posted on the official company blog post.

Some additional details were offered. For example, AppDynamics will be part of Cisco’s new software business unit. This latter will be led by Rowan Trollope. He is the general manager and senior VP of the IoT and Applications business.

The AppDynamics acquisition should help and advance Cisco’s new strategy. They are looking to transitions towards a new area. More exactly, that of software-centric solutions. This domain should come with a predictable recurring revenue.

Cisco reportedly based its decision on the ever-growing digital infrastructure dependence. Companies are transitioning to cloud services. And are also getting digitized. But this also leads to large amounts of siloed, complex data. The AppDynamics system should help translate and manage such data. It will contribute to its translation into business insights.

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Ohio Resident Sentenced to 11 Years Behind Bars for Setting His Girlfriend on Fire

41-year-old Michael Slager has been sentenced on Monday, December 12th, to 11 years in jail for setting his girlfriend on fire. The list of charges included assault, possession of criminal tools, and aggravated arson. According to the Franklin County prosecutor, Ron O’Brien, Mr. Slager pleaded no contest to all criminal counts before the judge passed the sentence. Furthermore, Mr. O’Brien said that the defendant received the maximum sentence for his crimes.

Events Leading up to the Conviction

Back in 2015, the Gahanna, Ohio, police dispatch was flooded with multiple witnesses’ reports, stating that a woman has been set ablaze in a gas station by a male attacker. The police later identified the man as Michael Slager, the victim’s boyfriend at the time.

According to the police officers, Judith Malinowski was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The county prosecutor says that the 33-year-old woman is still in medical care at the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

Hospital officials say that the woman suffered third and fourth-degree burns on 90 percent of the body’s surface. Furthermore, scars are visible over extensive areas of her body. Also, the hospital staff says that Ms. Malinowski has undergone countless surgical procedures in order to survive.

During the incident, Mr. Slager also suffered several burns, according to the law enforcement officers. In his initial statement, the man claims that the unfortunate series of events occurred as a direct result of a “horrible accident”. However, witnesses declared that the couple was fighting just moments before the attack.

Furthermore, one of the people present on the scene at the time Ms. Malinowski was set on fire says that her boyfriend used a fire extinguisher in an effort to put out the flames. Even though Michael Slager’s attorney claims the defendant did not intend to start the fire, the victim’s family told the police officials that Ms. Malinowski was afraid of her partner.Following Mr. Slager sentencing, Robert Krapenc, his attorney, could not be reached for comments.

Ultimately, Ms. Malinowski’s mother says that her daughter will move on with her life and is prepared to fight in order to lead a normal life again, in spite of her injuries.

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