Ford starts production of allelectric Streetscooter delivery vehicles

Source: Charge Forward DHL, one of the largest logistics companies in the world, started its StreetScooter subsidiary to build electric vehicles for its own fleet, but it is now emerging as an important electric vehicle manufacturer.Now they are expanding in even larger vehicles with the help of Ford, which has now started production of its all-electric Streetscooter WORK XL delivery vehicles. more…The post Ford starts production of all-electric Streetscooter delivery vehicles appeared first on Electrek. read more

MG Reveals eZS Its First Ever Electric Car

first_imgMG introduces its first production BEV in ChinaThe British brand MG (part of Chinese compnay SAIC), unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show its first all-electric production model, the eZS. It’s the electric version of the conventional ZS compact SUV.There are not many details, but it seems that MG eZS can go up to 286 miles (460 km) on the old NEDC cycle, which should translate to maybe 220 miles (350 km) in the real world.MG/SAIC news SAIC-GM Boosts Electric Range Of Baojun E100 Source: Electric Vehicle News SAIC Showcases Electric Maxus EV80 Van Lineup MG Shows X-motion Concept SUV – Hints At Electric Powertrain Currently, there is no confirmation of sales outside of China, so keep your fingers crossed for this BEV if it fits your style and liking..embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }Source: Autocar Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 19, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Electrek Podcast Audi etron first drive Tesla Model 3 MidRange Boring Company

first_imgSource: Charge Forward This week on the Electrek Podcast, we discuss the most popular news in the world of sustainable transport and energy, including our Audi e-tron first drive review, Tesla Model 3 Mid-Range gets its EPA rating, the Boring Company will have a new product unveiling, and more. more…The post Electrek Podcast: Audi e-tron first drive, Tesla Model 3 Mid-Range, Boring Company, and more appeared first on Electrek.last_img

Tesla Gigafactory 1 already produced over half a billion battery cells

first_imgSource: Charge Forward Tesla Gigafactory 1, which produce battery packs and battery cells in partnership with Panasonic, is quickly becoming the automaker’s most important asset as it has now already produced over half a billion battery cells. more…The post Tesla Gigafactory 1 already produced over half a billion battery cells appeared first on Electrek.last_img

Heres How To Calculate Conflicting EV Range Test Cycles EPA WLTP NEDC

first_img How The EPA Rates Electric Cars: Range, Efficiency & More EV Range Test: Tesla Model X Vs. Audi e-tron & Jaguar I-Pace: Video Source: Electric Vehicle News Now, you can more easily compare EV range figures from various test cycles.Articles about electric vehicles (EVs) are confusing with regard to range estimates. The confusion is because U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates are considerable smaller than the original New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) estimates, and the because the legal European estimate is changing to Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), whose magnitude is between EPA and NEDC. All new-car registrations in Europe from September 2018 are required to use WLTP range estimates.Read also Take Official EV Range Numbers With A Grain Of Salt I have collected EPA and NEDC estimates for six BEVs and the average ratio NEDC/EPA is 1.428 with a standard deviation of 0.161. So, U.S. BEV/PHEV drivers can convert NEDC range estimate to approximate EPA range estimates by dividing the NEDC value by 1.43 with an 11% error.I have collected EPA and WLTP range estimates for nine BEVs and the average ratio WLTP/EPA is 1.121 with a standard deviation of 0.092. So, U.S. BEV/PHEV drivers can convert WLPT range estimate to approximate EPA range estimates by dividing the WLPT value by 1.12 with an 8% error.Of course, the EPA range estimate is, indeed, an estimate.Editor’s Note: This article comes to us as a free contribution from our good friend L. David Roper.L. David Roper, roperld@vt.edu, roperld.com/personal/RoperLDavid.htm Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 7, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Save on Panasonic eneloop rechargeable batteries electric lawn mowers and more in

first_imgSource: Charge Forward https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVp0Cr2Pg4g&t=3308sThe post Save on Panasonic eneloop rechargeable batteries, electric lawn mowers and more in today’s Green Deals appeared first on Electrek. Amazon offers the Panasonic eneloop AA Rechargeable Batteries with USB-equipped Wall Charger for $18.95 Prime shipped. As a comparison, it originally sold for $30 but typically goes for around $25 or more. Panasonic’s eneloop lineup is one of the most trusted out there, with excellent ratings from nearly 10,000 Amazon reviewers. This bundle offers the upgraded wall charger, which includes a USB wall charging port which is great for powering up your device. Having rechargeable batteries around the house is always a good idea, not only will you cut down on waste but it’s also a great way to always be ready when your tech needs a power-up. Head below for more deals. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe the podcast.last_img read more

Save 600 on Ryobis electric zero turn lawn mower more in todays

first_imgSource: Charge Forward Home Depot offers the Ryobi 42-inch 75Ah Electric Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower for $3,299 shipped. That’s good for $600 off and a match of the best we’ve seen. This Ryobi riding mower reimagines your lawn cutting experience with a fully battery-powered design that can cut up to 3 acres on a single charge. Features include a 42-inch steel deck, 12-position adjustment, side or mulching discharge and it even has a USB port for charging your device. Rated 4.7/5 stars. More Green Deals below. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post Save $600 on Ryobi’s electric zero turn lawn mower, more in today’s Green Deals appeared first on Electrek.last_img read more

New Article – The FCPAs RecordBreaking Year

first_imgEach year, in addition to numerous posts published on FCPA Professor, I author a more comprehensive Foreign Corrupt Practices Act year in review / recent developments article that is published by a law review or journal.This publication process typically moves at a snail’s pace, but just because the calendar says May doesn’t mean it’s too late to learn about the top FCPA events and issues from the prior year.2016 was a record-breaking year for FCPA enforcement. A new article “The FCPA’s Record-Breaking Year” (forthcoming in the Connecticut Law Review – click here to download) provides a detailed analysis of the most notable FCPA enforcement and policy developments from 2016 and will be value to anyone seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge.Combine the 2016 year in review article with the ones below and you will have an extensive collection of FCPA statistics, trends, and analysis over time.For 2015, see here.For 2014, see here.For 2013, see here.For 2012, see here.For 2011, see here.For 2010, see here.For 2009, see here.last_img read more

This Week On FCPA Professor

first_imgFCPA Professor has been described as “the Wall Street Journal concerning all things FCPA-related,” and “the most authoritative source for those seeking to understand and apply the FCPA.”Set forth below are the topics discussed this week on FCPA Professor.As highlighted in this post, contrary to the suggestion in a recent article, corporate boards do not need ISO 37001 to act consistent with fiduciary duties.This FCPA Flash podcast episode is a conversation with Michael Levy (Paul Hastings). Levy recently authored a dandy article titled “The SEC’s Unlawful and Dangerous Expansion of the Exchange Act” in which he asserts that in certain recent enforcement actions the SEC has expanded the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions in an “unlawful” manner and in a way that gives the SEC “capacious authority to regulate by enforcement almost any aspect of the operations of any issuer.” This post follows-up on the same issues and asks whether it is possible to reconcile existing legal authority and even enforcement agency guidance with certain FCPA books and records and internal controls enforcement actions.This post highlights that FCPA Inc. desperately needs some basic standards.How much do you know about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? Let’s find out in this week’s FCPA challenge.This post rounds up other FCPA or related developments.Stay informed. Read FCPA Professor. To receive posts from the award-winning FCPA Professor website direct to your inbox, click here and go to the bottom left hand of the page to subscribe.Elevate your FCPA knowledge and practical skills at the FCPA Institute – Nashville on May 3-4. To learn more and to register, click here.last_img read more

Study finds no connection between weekday for lung cancer operation and patient

first_imgMay 3 2018The day of the week on which a patient has a lung cancer operation has no significance for their survival. This has been demonstrated by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in a new study published in the journal Chest.The team of researchers wanted to find out if the day of the week on which a patient had a lung cancer operation has any importance as regards survival as earlier studies have pointed in different directions. One study for example showed that the weekday for heart surgery had no significance for survival while another showed a better prognosis for patients who underwent surgery for oesophageal cancer on a Monday or Tuesday than those who had operations at the end of the week.Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds study”We do not know why there are patient groups who have poorer survival the later in the week they have their operations. One possible explanation is that surgeons, who perform very demanding operations, are more tired at the end of the week and that fewer specialists and fewer staff at the weekend lead to poorer care,” says Veronica Jackson, thoracic surgeon at Karolinska University Hospital and post-doc at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study.Patient data for the present lung cancer study was taken from the Register for General Thoracic Surgery in Sweden (ThoR). The study included all patients in ThoR who had undergone an operation for lung cancer between 2009 and 2015. Of the approximately 4,500 patients, most, 25 per cent, had their operations on a Monday and the lowest number, 11 per cent, on a Friday.When in April 2017 the researchers followed up on whether the patients were still alive using the Swedish National Population Register, they found no connection or significant differences in long-term survival linked to the day of the week of the operation.”Our findings are important because they indicate that there is no reason to restructure the system so that more lung cancer operations are performed at the beginning of the working week. But it is still of course possible that the day of the week for other kinds of surgery in general has an impact on the prognosis. If such a connection exists, it can have sizable consequences for both patients and healthcare as regards planning operations and allocating resources,” says Ulrik Sartipy, thoracic surgeon at Karolinska University Hospital and associate professor at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet, one of the researchers behind the study. Source:https://ki.se/en/news/weekday-for-operation-does-not-affect-survival-from-lung-cancerlast_img read more

UVA research shows true nature of immune cells blamed in Alzheimers

first_img Source:https://newsroom.uvahealth.com/2018/06/25/understanding_microglia/ Jun 26 2018Immune cells commonly blamed in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are actually precision cleaning machines protecting the central nervous system, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine shows.The discovery adds nuance and complexity to our understanding of immune cells known as microglia. By appreciating the role of these cells in full, scientists are better positioned to develop new treatments and tailor medicine to individual patients’ needs.”What we’re finding now is that at very acute time points, whether it’s in disease or whether it’s injury, the microglia are doing a lot,” said researcher Geoffrey Norris, PhD. “It’s important to know the role and function of these cells, especially going forward for human therapy.”Understanding MicrogliaNorris and colleagues in UVA’s Department of Neuroscience and its Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) developed a new model that lets them study microglia in the context of acute injury. Researchers already knew that the cells play a critical role in brain development, but their role in adulthood was much murkier, with many scientists arguing their activity was harmful. UVA’s research reveals that injury to the central nervous system activates the microglia, and the cells respond with remarkable precision. “It seems that microglia are very responsive to the job at hand,” Norris said. “So rather than being good or bad, what we’re basically seeing is that they’re doing what they need to do.”He compared the cells to a construction crew knocking down a damaged building. “If you have a crumbling building after a house fire, you usually take the building away, right? You load it up on dump trucks and take it away,” he said. “That’s what the microglia are doing with this debris.”The research doesn’t rule out the possibility that the microglia could be too aggressive in their debris removal, or perhaps something could go wrong during removal and contribute to disease. To continue the house analogy, maybe the demolition crew is knocking down a slightly damaged kitchen rather than simply repairing it. “Whether the microglia activity is detrimental or not is really just starting to be teased out,” Norris said.Related StoriesAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskFast Acting, Deep CleaningUVA’s new model allowed the researchers to observe as the cells swallowed up damaged material while leaving healthy cells untouched – strikes surgical in their precision. “If you look just a couple of microns away, their neighboring microglia are basically unresponsive,” Norris said. “So it’s a very contained area of activation, which was very interesting to us.”The researchers also noted how quickly the cells were changing and how quickly they cleared debris. Scientists working on treatments for neurological diseases may need to factor that in. Depending on the progression of a disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, “it might be that the microglia have already done a lot of work and you would need another approach,” Norris said.’A New Generation of Therapeutic Agents’Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, chairman of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience and director of the BIG Center, predicted the new understanding of microglia will have important ramifications.”Microglia were the neglected cells of the brain for decades,” Kipnis said. “The tide is changing, and we now realize how interesting and unique the biology of these cells is. This work shows the physiological response of microglia after CNS [central nervous system] injury, which is very different from their role in neurodevelopment or in chronic pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding microglia biology in physiology and pathology will bring us closer to development of a new generation of therapeutic agents for neurological disorders.”​last_img read more

Study Physician burnout equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe healthcare settings

first_img Source:http://med.stanford.edu/ Jul 9 2018Physician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe medical workplace conditions, if not more so, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.”If we are trying to maximize the safety and quality of medical care, we must address the factors in the work environment that lead to burnout among our health care providers,” said Tait Shanafelt, MD, director of the Stanford WellMD Center and associate dean of the School of Medicine. “Many system-level changes have been implemented to improve safety for patients in our medical workplaces. What we find in this study is that physician burnout levels appear to be equally, if not more, important than the work unit safety score to the risk of medical errors occurring.”The study will be published online July 9 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Shanafelt, who is also a professor of hematology and the Jeanie and Stew Ritchie Professor, is the senior author. Daniel Tawfik, MD, an instructor in pediatric critical care medicine at Stanford, is the lead author.A national epidemicMedical errors are common in the United States. Previous studies estimate these errors are responsible for 100,000 to 200,000 deaths each year. Limited research, though, has focused on how physician burnout contributes to these errors, according to the new study.The researchers sent surveys to physicians in active practice across the United States. Of the 6,695 who responded, 3,574 — 55 percent — reported symptoms of burnout. Ten percent also reported that they had made at least one major medical error during the prior three months, a figure consistent with previous published research, the study said. The physicians were also asked to rank safety levels in the hospitals or clinics where they worked using a standardized question to assess work unit safety.”We found that physicians with burnout had more than twice the odds of self-reported medical error, after adjusting for specialty, work hours, fatigue and work unit safety rating,” Tawfik said. “We also found that low safety grades in work units were associated with three to four times the odds of medical error.”Related StoriesNew solution makes fall recovery safer and easierEndocrine Society opposes HHS rule that would jeopardize transgender individuals’ access to healthcareFSMB releases new report surveying digital credentials in healthcareShanafelt said, “This indicates both the burnout level as well as work unit safety characteristics are independently related to the risk of errors.”Physician burnout has become a national epidemic, with multiple studies indicating that about half of all doctors experience symptoms of exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of reduced effectiveness. The new study notes that physician burnout also influences quality of care, patient safety, turnover rates and patient satisfaction.”Today, most organizations invest substantial resources and have a system-level approach to improve safety on every work unit. Very few devote equal attention to address the system-level factors that drive burnout in the physicians and nurses working in that unit,” Shanafelt said. “We need a holistic and systems-based approach to address the epidemic of burnout among health care providers if we are truly going to create the high-quality health care system we aspire to.”The study also showed that rates of medical errors actually tripled in medical work units, even those ranked as extremely safe, if physicians working on that unit had high levels of burnout. This indicates that burnout may be an even a bigger cause of medical error than a poor safety environment, Tawfik said.”Up until just recently, the prevailing thought was that if medical errors are occurring, you need to fix the workplace safety with things like checklists and better teamwork,” Tawfik said. “This study shows that that is probably insufficient. We need a two-pronged approach to reduce medical errors that also addresses physician burnout.”Impact on physiciansIn addition to their effect on patients, both errors and burnout can also have serious personal consequences for physicians. “We also know from our previous work that both burnout and medical errors independently double the risk of suicidal thoughts among physicians,” Shanafelt said. “This contributes to the higher risk of death by suicide among physicians relative to other professionals.”last_img read more

Daily use of aspirin does not reduce occurrence of major cardiovascular events

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 28 2018The role of aspirin in preventing a first heart attack or stroke among people at moderate risk of heart disease remains unclear. At the 2018 European Society of Cardiology meeting, J. Michael Gaziano, MD, a preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, presented findings from ARRIVE, a randomized, controlled clinical trial of the use of daily aspirin to prevent a first cardiovascular event among more than 12,500 participants considered to be at moderate cardiovascular risk. The team’s findings are detailed in a paper published simultaneously in The Lancet.”Aspirin did not reduce the occurrence of major cardiovascular events in this study,” said Gaziano. “However, there were fewer events than expected, suggesting that this was in fact a low-risk population. This may have been because some participants were taking medications to lower blood pressure and lipids, which protected them from disease. The decision on whether to use aspirin for protection against cardiovascular disease should be made in consultation with a doctor, considering all the potential risks and benefits.”The benefits of taking aspirin to prevent a second or subsequent heart attack or stroke have been well established in previous studies but the effectiveness of taking aspirin to prevent a first cardiovascular event has been unclear, despite 30 years of randomized clinical trials. The Aspirin to Reduce Risk of Initial Vascular Events (ARRIVE) study, sponsored by Bayer, sought to assess both the potential benefits as well as the risks to people at moderate risk of cardiovascular disease who may already be receiving some protection from modern preventative and therapeutic strategies.Participants were randomly assigned to receive either daily aspirin tablets (100 mg) or a placebo. A total of 12,546 participants were enrolled from primary care settings in the UK, Poland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and the U.S. The primary endpoint was time to first occurrence of a composite of cardiovascular death, heart attack, unstable angina, stroke, and transient ischemic attack.Related StoriesResearchers report promising results of potential reversal agentStudy indicates the benefits of stopping aspirin in heart attack patientsAspirin could be used to treat patients with severe tuberculosis infectionThe rate of such cardiovascular events did not statistically differ between the aspirin group and the placebo group. During the study, 269 patients (4.29 percent) in the aspirin group and 281 patients (4.48 percent) in the placebo group experienced such cardiovascular events.Overall, these rates were lower than expected. The authors conclude that this may be reflective of contemporary risk-management strategies, such as the use of statins.Given that aspirin is known to increase patients’ risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, ARRIVE excluded patients at high risk of bleeding. It also excluded patients with diabetes. Gastrointestinal bleeding events (mostly mild) occurred in 61 patients in the aspirin group versus 29 in the placebo group. The overall incidence rate of adverse events was similar in both treatment groups.”The use of aspirin remains a decision that should involve a thoughtful discussion between a clinician and a patient, given the need to weigh cardiovascular and possible cancer prevention benefits against the bleeding risks, patient preferences, cost, and other factors,” the authors conclude.The authors’ declaration of interests and the roles of the Executive Committee and of the sponsor can be found in The Lancet. The sponsor was responsible for the conduct of the trial. The independent Executive Committee, of which Gaziano was a member, was responsible for the study protocol, oversight of the study, writing of the report, and the decision to publish the results. All members of the Executive Committee received personal fees from Bayer during the conduct of the study. Source:https://www.brighamandwomens.org/last_img read more

Researchers reveal effect of high amounts of cholesterol on specific ion channel

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 11 2018Using a computer model, researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago have revealed the effect of increased amounts of cholesterol on a specific ion channel involved in regulating potassium levels in the heart. The work sheds further light on interactions between cholesterol and heart function and could have an impact on future cardiac therapies.Ion channels are proteins located within a cell membrane that control the transport of ions between a cell’s surrounding environment and the interior of the cell. The electrical current that allows the heart muscle to contract is a product of a series of ion transfers across the cell membrane. Every cardiac cell has ion channels in the membrane that transport a specific charged atom – such as calcium, sodium, or potassium – from the external environment into the heart cell.Belinda Akpa, assistant professor of integrated synthetic and systems biology and electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-corresponding author of a paper describing the research, looked at the effect of cholesterol molecules on a particular ion channel, called Kir2, which regulates the transfer of potassium into cardiac cells.”Cholesterol isn’t in and of itself a bad thing,” Akpa says. “It’s always present in the cell membrane. When the levels of cholesterol change we start to have problems. Given that cholesterol is something like 30 percent of a normal membrane, we wanted to understand why a relatively small increase – going from about 30 to 40 percent – suddenly makes things go wrong.”Akpa, University of Chicago at Illinois Ph.D. student Nicolas Barbera, and co-corresponding author Irena Levitan, professor of medicine, pharmacology, and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, used computer modeling to reveal the ways in which cholesterol molecules interact with the Kir2 ion channel. They found that while individual cholesterol molecules don’t bind strongly to the Kir2 channel, increasing the levels of cholesterol made these interactions more numerous, essentially overwhelming the channel.Related StoriesCutting around 300 calories a day protects the heart even in svelte adultsNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsProteins and small molecules often interact like locks and keys, where only a specific molecule can fit into a particular region on the protein. These interactions cause the protein to change shape – in the case of Kir2, cholesterol sliding into these regions interferes with the protein’s attempts to open or close to allow potassium ions into a cardiac cell. In their model, Akpa, Barbera and Levitan identified four “locks” on the Kir2 ion channel that cholesterol molecules attempted to occupy.”Cholesterol may actually belong in some of these locks, but we’re also seeing it try to move into places that should probably be unoccupied, which interferes with the ability of the protein to change its shape in a way that allows it to open and close normally,” says Akpa. “This is a problem because cells require ion channels to orchestrate a sophisticated choreography of ions moving in and out at different times. Essentially, it’s like taking a symphony of ion exchanges and inserting a wrong note.”Future work for the team will focus specifically on how additional cholesterol changes the ability of the protein to open and close. Source:https://www.ncsu.edu/last_img read more

The Invisible Graffiti of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat may be covered in graffiti—but don’t worry, it’s invisible. Built in the early 12th century, Cambodia’s architecturally iconic temple is known for its intricate carvings, some of them stretching nearly a kilometer in length. But most archaeologists believe that parts of the temple were once painted as well. So when scientists noticed faint traces of red and black pigment on the walls of several rooms in Angkor Wat, they snapped pictures with a bright flash and used a tool called decorrelation stretch analysis to digitally enhance the images. Previously used to highlight subtle color differences in images of the martian landscape taken by NASA’s Opportunity rover, this type of analysis can reveal colors too faint or faded to be seen with the naked eye. When the researchers applied it to their photos of Angkor Wat, they found more than 200 images of boats, deities, buildings, and animals—like the elephants above (inset)—drawn on the walls throughout the temple, they report today in Antiquity. Most of the paintings are haphazardly arranged and appear to be graffiti left by visitors after Angkor Wat was first abandoned in 1431. But one group of carefully drawn scenes, located in the highest tier of one of Angkor Wat’s towers, might be the remains of a 16th century restoration program, when the complex was transformed from a Hindu temple into a Buddhist shrine. The previously lost images could give archaeologists new insight into this little-known period in Cambodia’s history. read more

Gut microbes give anticancer treatments a boost

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Country Emailcenter_img Checkpoint inhibitors, which aim to unleash the power of the immune system on tumors, are some of the most impressive new cancer treatments. But most patients who receive them don’t benefit. Two new studies of mice suggest a surprising reason why—these people may not have the right mixture of bacteria in their guts. Both studies demonstrate that the composition of the gut microbiome—the swarms of microorganisms naturally dwelling in the intestines—determines how effective these cancer immunotherapies are.The studies are the first to link our intestinal denizens to the potency of checkpoint inhibitors, drugs that thwart one of cancer’s survival tricks. To curb attacks on our own tissues, immune cells carry receptors that dial down their activity. But tumor cells can also stimulate these receptors, preventing the immune system from attacking them. Checkpoint inhibitors like ipilimumab—which has been on the market since 2011—nivolumab, and pembrolizumab stop tumor cells from stimulating the receptors.The new work could change how doctors use the drugs. “Both of the papers show convincingly that microbes can affect the treatments,” says immunologist Yasmine Belkaid of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, who wasn’t connected to the new studies. In the past, researchers have typically looked for mutations in patients’ genomes that might explain why a particular checkpoint inhibitor isn’t working, says molecular biologist Scott Bultman of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. The new results are encouraging, he says, because “it’s easier to change your gut microbiota than your genome.” Checkpoint inhibitors can shrink tumors and extend patients’ lives, sometimes by years. Yet only a fraction of recipients improve. About 20% of melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab live longer, for example. Researchers don’t know what distinguishes them from the other 80%.A side effect of the drug steered oncoimmunologist Laurence Zitvogel of the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus in Villejuif, France, and colleagues toward the microbiome. Ipilimumab often triggers colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine, where part of our microbiome lives. That side effect suggests checkpoint inhibitors and the microbiome interact. Following up on that possibility, the researchers tracked the growth of tumors implanted in mice lacking intestinal bacteria. The checkpoint inhibitor they tested was less powerful in the animals.Further analysis by Zitvogel and colleagues suggested that certain bacteria in the Bacteroides and Burkholderia genera were responsible for the antitumor effect of the microbiome. To confirm that possibility, the researchers transferred the microbes into mice that had no intestinal bacteria, either by feeding the microorganisms to the animals or giving them the Bacteroides-rich feces of some ipilimumab-treated patients. In both cases, an influx of microbes strengthened the animals’ response to one checkpoint inhibitor. “Our immune system can be mobilized by the trillions of bacteria we have in our gut,” Zitvogel says.Immunologist Thomas Gajewski of the University of Chicago (UC) in Illinois and colleagues came to a similar conclusion after noticing a disparity between mice they had obtained from two suppliers. Melanoma tumors grew slower in mice from Jackson Laboratory than in mice from Taconic Farms. The microbiomes of rodent cagemates tend to homogenize—the animals eat each other’s feces—so the researchers housed mice from both suppliers together. Cohabitation erased the difference in tumor growth, indicating it depends on the types of microbes in the rodents’ guts.When they analyzed the microbiomes of the mice, the researchers pinpointed a bacterial genus known as the Bifidobacterium. The team found that feeding mice from Taconic Farms a probiotic that contains several Bifidobacterium species increased the efficiency of a checkpoint inhibitor against tumors. “The endogenous antitumor response is significantly influenced by your commensal bacteria,” says co-author Ayelet Sivan, who was a Ph.D. student at UC when the research was conducted. Both groups reported their results online today in Science.The two teams implicated different bacterial groups, but that doesn’t worry microimmunologist Christian Jobin of the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. “Different drugs, different bugs, but the same endpoint,” he says. He adds that the new work complements a pair of 2013 studies that demonstrated that the microbiome affects how well chemotherapy works.The discovery “opens up novel ways to potentially augment therapy,” says Cynthia Sears, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. For example, it might be possible to beef up a patient’s antitumor response with probiotics. But researchers also see some potential roadblocks. As Zitvogel notes, regulatory agencies in the United States and Europe haven’t approved the use of probiotics for cancer patients. Also unclear is how the microbes boost the immune response—gut bacteria are key to the immune system’s development, but researchers aren’t sure how they tweak its function in mature animals. And scientists are just learning how to tinker with the microbiome. “It is not clear that we can meaningfully manipulate the microbiota and create positive health effects,” Sears says. Nonetheless, researchers say, the studies suggest that we may have some powerful new allies in the fight against cancer.last_img read more

Test your smarts on Fibonacci patterns and robotic insects

first_img Titan A new study on metadata has revealed that smart phone call records can reveal all but which of the following? An error occurred loading the Quiz. Please try again later. Electrostatic adhesion. Getting a robot to fly is impressive, but once it’s in the air, how do you keep it there without draining too much energy? Nature’s answer is perching. Think of perching as landing without a runway. Birds, bats, and insects do it. They can land on narrow surfaces, upside down or right-side up, remain idle for long periods of time, and then take off by launching themselves from different positions. Now, researchers have made a robot that can perch by using electrostatic adhesion, or static electricity. The RoboBee, a flying robot that weighs less than a bee, uses tiny, flexible copper electrodes to alter the surface’s electric charge to be the opposite of its own. That makes it stick to the surface—anything from a panel of glass to a leaf. Once they can fly without a tether, these robots might be used to provide bird’s-eye views of disaster areas, detect hazardous chemicals, or enable communication in remote regions. Future designs could allow for perching on vertical surfaces, which means we could have our first robotic fly on the wall. LOADING Reality television A gene for large tonsils Question Magnetism Average Sticky pads Giraffes Europa. The moon of Jupiter, a favorite candidate for harboring life outside our planet, is capable of creating hydrogen and heat in its deep, subsurface ocean in a way similar to oceans here on Earth. The process, called serpentinization, takes place when massive cracks form in the ocean’s floor. These cracks allow seawater to seep inside, where it reacts with minerals to produce hydrogen and heat, ingredients that are essential for life as we know it. Meanwhile, intense radiation hitting ice on the moon’s surface creates another key ingredient: free oxygen molecules. But how soon will we know if Europa’s frozen depths actually harbor life? Maybe sooner than we think: Just last week, the U.S. Congress proposed funding not one—but two—missions to the icy moon. 0 / 10 Phone passwords. The rest, however, are all up for grabs: A new study of phone metadata now finds that highly revealing information can be gleaned from a simple list of who called whom. Researchers collected their data from 800 people who downloaded an app called MetaPhone. Once installed on a smart phone, it collects the phone numbers and timing of every call and text message made and received. If their privacy really is protected, then the records of their 1.2 million text messages and 250,000 calls should reveal little. In fact, the metadata revealed quite a lot. By using public information and cheap commercial databases to map phone numbers to businesses, organizations, and social media profiles, metadata revealed the location and identity of most of the people, the team reported last week. Even deeply private details such as chronic health problems, religious affiliations, and drug use emerged by simply linking people to various clinics, stores, and organizations through their call records. A curious new robot has been able to “perch” like an insect on multiple surfaces, using what technology? Phone passwords Elephants Score Last week, scientists said this celestial body may have an ocean chemistry similar to Earth’s: Chronic health problems 12. It might not have been cool in your corner of the world, but rest assured the rest of us have been living in an oven. From India to Israel, temperatures have topped out at record-breaking levels, hitting 46°C (115°F) in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, Israel, and a whopping 51°C (124°F) in northern India, where several hundred people have already died of the heat. But the heat wave isn’t finished yet. Experts from NASA say already there’s a better than 99% chance that this year will be the hottest on record, making 2016 the third year in a row to have that dubious honor. Every Monday, The Science Quiz tests your knowledge of the week’s biggest science news stories. No matter how much you know, you’re still likely to learn something — give it a try! Malaria May 23, 2016 Start Quiz A gene for cigarette addiction 12 Genetically engineered crops Tsunamis. Mars has been saved from the likes of the Kardashians—so far. But that good luck was in short supply some 3.4 billion years ago, when giant meteoroids crashed into the surface of the planet, triggering tsunamis with waves between 50 and 120 meters high. These tsunamis, initially suggested by a major redistribution of sediments in the planet’s northern hemisphere, could answer a question that has long vexed scientists: If the Red Planet once had a large ocean covering its northern half, where is the evidence for its ancient shoreline? A new study proposes that it was erased by the ravaging waves of two tsunamis, each of which would have flooded 1 million square kilometers—about the same amount of land affected by the tsunami triggered by the dinosaur-killing asteroid on Earth some 66 million years ago. Okay, maybe reality television isn’t that much of a disaster! Antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics have been taking it on the chin lately. Not only has resistance to the medications been growing, but drug companies have been dropping antibiotic research programs because the drugs are difficult and expensive to make. Now, help is on the way. Scientists say they’ve found a new way to churn out drugs from one of the most widely used classes of antibiotics, called macrolides. The work could lead to new weapons against antibiotic-resistant infections, and possibly save millions of lives. 2 5 Antibiotic resistance Fluoride Toothworts Scientists last week reported finding complex Fibonacci patterns in these flowers: Pedophilia Top Ranker Giraffes. With its lanky legs and towering neck, the giraffe is a record-breaker: At 4.5 to 5.7 meters, it’s the tallest land animal on the planet. Even newborn calves are giants by human standards, entering the world at about 2 meters tall. Now, scientists have sequenced the genome of the giraffe—and that of its close cousin the okapi—to unravel the genetic mysteries behind the animal’s unique physique. May 23, 2016 The Science Quiz The faster you answer, the higher your score! Sunflowers Tsunamis Echinacea Tornadoes Sunflowers. They’re a favorite of mathematical biologists, who love the way they demonstrate a hidden rule that they say shapes the patterns of life: the Fibonacci sequence. First described in the 13th century, the sequence—a set in which each number is the sum of the previous two (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, …)—can be found in everything from pineapples to pine cones. In sunflowers, if you count the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals that reach the outer edge, you’ll usually find a pair of numbers from the sequence: 34 and 55, or 55 and 89, or—with very large sunflowers—89 and 144. Now, researchers are reporting that a new citizen science project has found patterns that are even more complex, with Fibonacci and near-Fibonacci sequences competing and clashing across the faces of one in five sunflowers. Why? The short answer is that nature is messy. But the long answer, say scientists, may be even more complex. Ganymede You Wildebeests Autism Planetary wildfires enterphoto/iStockphoto 10 Black rhinoceroses Last month was the hottest April on record. And—lest you take this for a bad case of déjà vu—this was actually just the latest in a string of record-breaking months. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, how many successive “hottest months” have graced our planet lately? Enceledus Formaldehyde flooring Scientists have finally sequenced the genome of this African megafauna: In other space news, NASA scientists said they may have found evidence for this natural disaster on Mars: Genetically engineered crops. The public debate around the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and whether to label them has continued to rage. But behind the scenes, some things have changed. Agricultural markets are bracing for an explosion of new plants designed using the gene-editing technology CRISPR, and regulators are struggling with how to assess their safety. Last week’s report tackles mainstay questions in the well-worn GMO debate. Are these plants safe to eat? How do they affect the environment? Do they drive herbicide-resistance in weeds or pesticide-resistance in insects? But it also weighs in on a more immediate conundrum for federal agencies: what to do with gene-edited plants that won’t always fit the technical definition of a regulated GE crop. Venus flytraps Back here on Earth, we’ve been dealing with our own troubles. Scientists reported last week that they may have a new way of fighting this problem: NASA Evolution is thought to take thousands or millions of years, but new research shows that we can map the process in humans, generation by generation. What was one of the genes that scientists studied? Time’s Up! Drug use The Science Quiz A gene for cigarette addiction. Biologists know that evolution can happen fast. Now, thanks to the genomic revolution, scientists can actually track the population-level genetic shifts that mark evolution in action—and they’re doing this in humans. Two new studies presented this month show how our genomes have changed over centuries or decades, charting how since Roman times the British have evolved to be taller and fairer, and how just in the last generation the effect of a gene that favors cigarette smoking has dwindled in some groups. A gene for nose size Glyphosate Electrostatic adhesion Tiny spikes A gene for vertigo 0 Europa Last week, a group of a group of 20 scientists from the the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine said that this product was safe for humans: Results: You answered out of correctly – Click to revisit Share your score Religious affiliationslast_img read more

Physicists detect whiff of new particle at the Large Hadron Collider

first_img d– Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Physicists detect whiff of new particle at the Large Hadron Collider Antimuon, µ–Possible new decay By Adrian ChoApr. 18, 2017 , 4:45 PM Charged weak force boson, W– B mesonK meson B mesons are made of fundamental particles called quarks. Familiar protons and neutrons are made of two flavors of quarks, up and down, bound in trios. Heavier quark flavors—charm, strange, top, and bottom—can be created, along with their antimatter counterparts, in high-energy particle collisions; they pair with antiquarks to form mesons.Lasting only a thousandth of a nanosecond, B mesons potentially provide a window onto new physics. Thanks to quantum uncertainty, their interiors roil with particles that flit in and out of existence and can affect how they decay. Any new particles tickling the innards of B mesons—even ones too massive for the LHC to create—could cause the rates and details of those decays to deviate from predictions in the standard model. It’s an indirect method of hunting new particles with a proven track record. In the 1970s, when only the up, down, and strange quarks were known, physicists predicted the existence of the charm quark by discovering oddities in the decays of K mesons (a family of mesons all containing a strange quark bound to an antiquark).In their latest result, reported today in a talk at CERN, LHCb physicists find that when one type of B meson decays into a K meson, its byproducts are skewed: The decay produces a muon (a cousin of the electron) and an antimuon less often than it makes an electron and a positron. In the standard model, those rates should be equal, says Guy Wilkinson, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and spokesperson for the 770-member LHCb team. “This measurement is of particular interest because theoretically it’s very, very clean,” he says. Neutral weak force boson, Z Email Bottom quarkStrange quarkTop quarkAnti-down quark For decades, particle physicists have yearned for physics beyond their tried-and-true standard model. Now, they are finding signs of something unexpected at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest atom smasher at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The hints come not from the LHC’s two large detectors, which have yielded no new particles since they bagged the last missing piece of the standard model, the Higgs boson, in 2012, but from a smaller detector, called LHCb, that precisely measures the decays of familiar particles.The latest signal involves deviations in the decays of particles called B mesons—weak evidence on its own. But together with other hints, it could point to new particles lying on the high-energy horizon. “This has never happened before, to observe a set of coherent deviations that could be explained in a very economical way with one single new physics contribution,” says Joaquim Matias, a theorist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. Matias says the evidence is strong enough for a discovery claim, but others urge caution.The LHC smashes protons together at unprecedented energy to try to blast into existence massive new particles, which its two big detectors, ATLAS and CMS, would spot. LHCb focuses on familiar particles, in particular B mesons, using an exquisitely sensitive tracking detector to sniff out the tiny explosive decays. Strangely familiar A new process appears to be modifying one of the standard ways a B meson decays to a K meson. It may involve a new force-carrying particle called a Z’ that avoids creating a short-lived top quark. µ + d– s Possible new particle, Z’center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country d– s b d– Standard model decay b Muon, µ+ t B mesonK meson CERN Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe The LHCb experiment relies on this ultraprecise vertex detector to spot the tiny firecracker-like decays of B mesons. µ – V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE The result is just one of half a dozen faint clues LHCb physicists have found that all seem to jibe. For example, in 2013, they examined the angles at which particles emerge in such B meson decays and found that they didn’t quite agree with predictions.What all those anomalies point to is less certain. Within the standard model, a B meson decays to a K meson only through a complicated “loop” process in which the bottom quark briefly turns into a top quark before becoming a strange quark. To do that, it has to emit and reabsorb a W boson, a “force particle” that conveys the weak force (see graphic, previous page).The new data suggest the bottom quark might morph directly into a strange quark—a change the standard model forbids—by spitting out a new particle called a Z′ boson. That hypothetical cousin of the Z boson would be the first particle beyond the standard model and would add a new force to theory. The extra decay process would lower production of muons, explaining the anomaly. “It sort of an ad hoc construct, but it fits the data beautifully,” says Wolfgang Altmannshofer, a theorist at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. Others have proposed that a quark–electron hybrid called a leptoquark might briefly materialize in the loop process and provide another way to explain the discrepancies.Of course, the case for new physics could be a mirage of statistical fluctuations. Physicists with ATLAS and CMS 18 months ago reported hints of a hugely massive new particle only to see them fade away with more data. The current signs are about as strong as those were, Altmannshofer says.The fact that physicists are using LHCb to search in the weeds for signs of something new underscores the fact that the LHC hasn’t yet lived up to its promise. “ATLAS and CMS were the detectors that were going to discover new things, and LHCb was going to be more complementary,” Matias says. “But things go as they go.”If the Z′ or leptoquarks exist, then the LHC might have a chance to blast them into bona fide, albeit fleeting, existence, Matias says. The LHC is now revving up after its winter shutdown. Next month, the particle hunters will return to their quest.last_img read more

A neardisaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll

first_imgRepeated safety lapses hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on the cores of U.S. nuclear warheads The devastating effects of the Tokaimura criticality accident on Masato Shinohara, 40, are evident in these hospital photos chronicling his physical decline. He died seven months after the accident. Safety problems at a Los Alamos laboratory delay U.S. nuclear warhead testing and production Parts III, IV, and V Nuclear Negligence—a five-part series Nuclear Negligence examines safety weaknesses at U.S. nuclear weapon sites operated by corporate contractors. The Center’s probe, based on contractor and government reports and officials involved in bomb-related work, revealed unpublicized accidents at nuclear weapons facilities, including some that caused avoidable radiation exposures. It also discovered that the penalties imposed by the government for these errors were typically small, relative to the tens of millions of dollars the NNSA gives to each of the contractors annually in pure profit. How CPI got this story » Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) LANL Part II Top officials in Washington order reforms in Los Alamos’s safety practices that have yet to be fully implemented. Los Alamos National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy If you are a current or former employee of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department, or one of its contractors, and you know of events, incidents, actions, decisions, conditions or documents worthy of our attention, please contact Patrick Malone (PGP fingerprint: 3AD5 A969 C8CD 14B2 D917 4BEF EB43 ED01 ACFB 7FEE) or R. Jeffrey Smith (D27F C3FA 32EE 2938 6080 47C5 C50E 1E64 CF5D 64F1) by email, postal mail or SecureDrop. This timeline traces the long and troubled history of safety deficiencies at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plutonium Facility by detailing the timing of some 40 government reports and expert presentations spanning the past 11 years. As luck had it that August day, a supervisor returned from her lunch break, noticed the dangerous configuration, and ordered a technician to move the rods apart. But in so doing, she violated safety rules calling for a swift evacuation of all personnel in “criticality” events, because bodies — and even hands — can reflect and slow the neutrons emitted by plutonium, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear chain reaction. A more senior lab official instead improperly decided that others in the room should keep working, according to a witness and an Energy Department report describing the incident. Eight rods of plutonium within inches — had a few more rods been placed nearby it would have triggered a disaster.  Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Workers stood, distraught, in the hallway of PF-4 after the incident that would prove to be pivotal for national security objectives involving plutonium. Illustration by Joanna Eberts Ghastly deaths after the blue glowThe consequences of a “criticality” accident are ghastly. When Japanese technicians sloppily packed too much enriched uranium — another nuclear weapons fuel — into some wide-mouthed buckets at a factory 75 miles northeast of Tokyo in September 1999, it started to fission spontaneously in a classic “criticality” incident.Two Japanese workers died, neighboring towns were contaminated with radiation, and industries essential to the region’s economy were disrupted. Schools closed, police barricaded roads, and trains stopped running. More than 160 people within a quarter-mile were evacuated, and another 310,000 people living and working nearby were ordered to seek shelter.There was no explosion, just the usual blue Cherenkov flash, marking the spread of radiation around the Tokaimura plant in a chain reaction that pulsed intermittently for 20 hours. It exposed 119 people to doses exceeding the 1 millisievert level recognized by the International Commission on Radiological Protection as the maximum that members of the public can safely be exposed to in a year, according to the World Nuclear Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates expanded reliance on nuclear energy. Those contaminated were a mix of plant workers and others who by chance happened to live or work nearby.Hisashi Ouchi and Masato Shinohara, who were in the room where the criticality occurred and absorbed extremely high doses — 1,700 and 1,200 rems of radiation, respectively — appeared normal when they entered the University of Tokyo Hospital Emergency Department on the same day. But within weeks, Ouchi became unrecognizable, inside and out. Safety problems at a Los Alamos laboratory delay U.S. nuclear warhead testing and production Slowly, his skin sloughed off and his muscle tissue died. Externally, his body withered into a skeletal silhouette, covered in open sores. Inside his body, his chromosomes shattered like glass. Sequentially, his organs failed. By the 63rd day of his ordeal, doctors were pumping 10 liters of liquid into Ouchi to replace the fluid he was losing from surface wounds and massive intestinal bleeding. He died in December, 1999, 83 days after the accident.Shinohara’s physical decline wasn’t as meticulously chronicled as Ouchi’s. But the outer layer of his skin molted from 70 percent of his body, and his body shut down in the same sequence that Ouchi’s had. He lived for 210 days after the accident, until he succumbed to MRS pneumonia on April 27, 2000.Official studies by the Japanese government and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chronicled a poor safety culture that had discounted the likelihood of a criticality accident. In 1999, Sixto T. Almodovar, a senior nuclear criticality analyst consultant at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington state, summarized the mindset about criticality safety at JCO Co. Ltd., the company that operated the Japanese nuclear fuel plant, as “Titanic thinking.”“This ship is unsinkable, therefore why obstruct the view of the first-class passengers with unneeded life boats,” Almodovar said. Citing Japanese media reports, he noted that company officials had admitted they not only condoned, but encouraged, workers to take shortcuts, often at the expense of safety, to increase their productivity.Taking safety shortcuts to boost productivity to the level managers wanted to see isn’t just a foreign problem, Almodovar warned. At the Y-12 National Security Complex, an Energy Department-funded nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee, workers even coined a euphemism for the practice. “The Oak Ridge Y-12 workers call this, a ‘Bubba said,’” Almodovar said, after interviewing some of them. A spokeswoman at Y-12, Ellen Boatner, didn’t reply to a request for comment.Repeatedly playing with dangerLos Alamos’s first death from criticality-produced radiation occurred in September, 1945, 25 days after physicist Harry Daghlian deliberately lowered a large piece of plutonium into a cavity made of tungsten bricks that reflected the plutonium’s escaping neutrons back toward it, in a risky experiment that scientists dubbed “tickling the dragon’s tail.”As Daghlian moved the final brick closer to the stack, a nearby radiation meter clicked frantically as neutrons collided angrily with other particles, warning him that a criticality accident loomed. But as he tried to withdraw the brick, it dropped, and the flash caught him. He died 28 days after he was irradiated.The following May, Los Alamos scientist Louis Slotin was also testing the boundaries of plutonium criticality while seven other scientists looked on. Slotin was positioning a spherical beryllium shell around a plutonium pit. But as he slowly lowered the upper hemisphere onto the lower one, it slipped downward, off the tip of his screwdriver. Slotin held the two halves of the core apart with a screwdriver. It slipped, killing him. When Bowen reached the site, it was bathed in red lights as a belated warning for workers to stay away. He found the photographer looking despondent, with his head in his hands. Nearby, other workers consoled the equally upset technician. Both men were worried they’d be fired. During a lab-wide safety training a few days later, one of Los Alamos’ top safety officials called it “the most severe event” in years involving nuclear safety there, according to a copy of his presentation.“The really horrible part that stuck in my mind is that they got lucky,” Bowen said. “They violated all these controls. They could have brought in more material to take pictures,” and had they done so, it could have cost the technicians their lives, never mind their jobs. Senior managers, he said, delayed calling in safety experts because they didn’t want to see the episode revealed in bold headlines.“The management saw it as more of a political thing,” Bowen said. “They didn’t want this to get out in the papers or the news.” The fact that the call summoning him to PF-4 came from an assistant lab director — not a rank-and-file employee, but someone higher up — meant “they realized they were in trouble,” Bowen said.The lab’s decision to downplay the risks of the 2011 incident was not an isolated one, Bowen added. An official with URS — one of the private contractors running PF-4 under a government contract — told Bowen “all the time that we don’t even need a criticality safety program,” Bowen recalled.The URS official, Charles Anderson, who was appointed in July 2011 to oversee nuclear high-hazard safety, “basically said he didn’t need us and he could make more money” by replacing all the members of the criticality safety team with URS employees. (In 2014, a firm called AECOM acquired URS, including its stake in the consortium of contractors that operates Los Alamos.)“That kind of culture really spawned the exodus” of the lab’s safety staff, Bowen said in an interview, which he gave to CPI before being promoted to his current leadership role in the NNSA criticality safety program. “Within a year, maybe a year and a half, there was one, maybe two left — 12 of 14 of the staff left. [And] because there was no criticality expertise there, it led to the closing of PF-4.”It was, Bowen said, “a perfect storm of total boneheaded decisions by certain management [officials] at Los Alamos” that created such havoc. A former senior NNSA official in Washington recounted hearing a similar depiction of the URS contractor’s disdainful attitudes about criticality.Numerous messages left on Anderson’s work and personal phones and emails as well as his social media accounts seeking comment went unanswered. A spokesman for the consortium of contractors that operates Los Alamos referred questions about Anderson’s reported actions to the NNSA, whose spokesman didn’t address those specific questions. AECOM, which bought URS, also did not reply to request for comment.A special expert group created to monitor safety throughout the Energy Department’s facilities, known as the Criticality Safety Support Group, documented the exodus of trained personnel from Los Alamos in an April 2012 report, which said that experts “had lost trust in their line management.”Nichols recalled in an interview that due to “some mismanagement, people voted with their feet. They left.” The attrition rate was around “100%,” according to a private “lessons learned” report last month by the lab’s top criticality expert and the lone NNSA criticality expert assigned to work there, which they prepared for counterparts at the nearby Sandia nuclear weapons lab.The 2011 incident “was an egregious event,” agreed Brady Raap, who has been a chief engineer in the nuclear engineering and analysis department of the national security division at the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “That was what said, really, ‘Look, there’s not the respect for safety that there needs to be.’ The problem was more than a few disgruntled people or anything that people [in management] portrayed it as.”“Operations wasn’t fully integrated with safety, as it should be,” she said. “There’s an inherent conflict between safety objectives, which can slow down work, and productivity pressure…. Management, in particular, is focused on a mission goal — processing a certain amount of material or manufacturing enough widgets, or what have you. If they don’t have enough respect for the safety activities that support that, things become a little detached. You proceed when it would have been better to wait.”National security managing editor R. Jeffrey Smith contributed to this article. Technicians at the government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory settled on what seemed like a surefire way to win praise from their bosses in August 2011: In a hi-tech testing and manufacturing building pivotal to sustaining America’s nuclear arsenal, they gathered eight rods painstakingly crafted out of plutonium, and positioned them side-by-side on a table to photograph how nice they looked.At many jobs, this would be innocent bragging. But plutonium is the unstable, radioactive, man-made fuel of a nuclear explosion, and it isn’t amenable to showboating. When too much is put in one place, it becomes “critical” and begins to fission uncontrollably, spontaneously sparking a nuclear chain reaction, which releases energy and generates a deadly burst of radiation.The resulting blue glow — known as Cherenkov radiation — has accidentally and abruptly flashed at least 60 times since the dawn of the nuclear age, signaling an instantaneous nuclear charge and causing a total of 21 agonizing deaths. So keeping bits of plutonium far apart is one of the bedrock rules that those working on the nuclear arsenal are supposed to follow to prevent workplace accidents. It’s Physics 101 for nuclear scientists, but has sometimes been ignored at Los Alamos. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By The Center for Public Integrity, Patrick MaloneJun. 29, 2017 , 8:00 AM Parts III, IV, and V Asked about this record, spokesman Gregory Wolf of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which oversees and pays for the country’s nuclear weapons work, responded that “we expect our contractors to perform work in a safe and secure manner that protects our employees, our facilities, and the public. When accidents do occur, our focus is to determine causes, identify corrective actions, and prevent recurrences.”His colleague James McConnell, the top NNSA safety official, said in an interview that “safety is an inherent part of everything we do.” But at a public hearing in Santa Fe on June 7, McConnell was also candid about Los Alamos’s failure to meet federal standards. “They’re not where we need them yet,” he said of the lab and its managers.Los Alamos spokesman Kevin Roark said in an email the lab chose to defer to NNSA for its response. But the lab’s director over the past seven years, nuclear physicist Charles McMillan, said in a 2015 promotional video that while “we’ve got to do our mission” — which he said was vital to the nation’s security as well as the world’s stability — “the only way we can do that is by doing it safely.”No usable warhead production for four yearsThe huge, 39-year-old, two-story, rectangular building at Los Alamos where the 2011 incident occurred is the sole U.S. site that makes plutonium cores — commonly known as pits because they are spherical and placed near the center of nuclear bombs — for the warheads meant to be installed over the next three decades in new U.S. missiles, bombers, and submarines.Production of these cores is a key part of the country’s effort to modernize its nuclear arsenal at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, which President Obama supported and President Trump has said he wants to “greatly strengthen and expand.” Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2017 and 2018 budgets would boost U.S. spending on such work by $1.4 billion, representing a slightly higher percentage increase (11%) than requested overall for the Defense Department.But mostly because of the Los Alamos lab’s safety deficiencies, it hasn’t produced a usable new warhead core in at least six years. Congress mandated in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that Los Alamos must be capable of manufacturing up to 20 war-ready cores a year by 2025, 30 the next year and 80 by 2027. Wolf said the agency remains committed to meeting this goal, but other government officials say the dramatic slowdown at PF-4 has put fulfillment of that timetable in doubt.PF-4 is also the only place where existing cores removed randomly from the arsenal can be painstakingly tested to see if they remain safe and reliable for use in the nuclear stockpile. That work has also been blocked, due to PF-4’s extended shutdown, according to internal DOE reports.The lab tried to conduct those tests in late 2016, but without success. The initial experiment destroyed a plutonium pit without collecting useful results about its safety or reliability, the latest annual review of Los Alamos’ performance by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) stated. The lab canceled a second planned pit analysis in 2016, according to the NNSA’s annual evaluation of the lab’s performance.“I don’t think they’ve made mission goals the last four years,” said Michaele Brady Raap, a past president of the American Nuclear Society and member of the Energy Department’s elite Criticality Safety Support Group, a team of 12 government experts that analyzes and recommends ways to improve struggling federal nuclear safety programs.The lab’s criticality safety shortcomings have been so persistent that NNSA in August 2015 threatened to fine Los Alamos’ managing contractors more than a half-million dollars for failing to correct them. In the end, the NNSA administrator decided to not to impose the fine, exemplifying what critics allege is a climate of impunity for mistakes within DOE.“There is no doubt, they have had some management and operational problems,” said MIT Professor Ernest Moniz, who served as the Obama administration’s Energy Secretary from 2013 until the end of January, speaking about Los Alamos’s handling of nuclear safety. “We were obviously quite concerned about it.”Moniz said in an interview with the Center that the laboratory’s lapses had played a role in the department’s decision last year not to extend its existing management contract. Instead, the contract was opened to a new competition, with the winner expected to be named in early 2018 and take over the lab in Sept. 2018. Moniz added, however, that in 2016 the lab “started to turn things around.”But others see Los Alamos’s conduct differently. “There’s a systemic issue here,” said Brady Raap. “There are a lot of things there [at Los Alamos] that are examples of what not to do.”George Anastas, a past president of the Health Physics Society who analyzed dozens of internal government reports about criticality problems at Los Alamos for the Center, said he wonders if “the work at Los Alamos [can] be done somewhere else? Because it appears the safety culture, the safety leadership, has gone to hell in a handbasket.”Anastas said the reports, spanning more than a decade, describe “a series of accidents waiting to happen.” The lab, he said, is “dodging so many bullets that it’s scary as hell.” Catastrophe was avoided and no announcement was made at the time about the near-miss — but officials internally described what happened as the most dangerous nuclear-related incident at that facility in years. It then set in motion a calamity of a different sort: Virtually all of the Los Alamos engineers tasked with keeping workers safe from criticality incidents decided to quit, having become frustrated by the sloppy work demonstrated by the 2011 event and what they considered the lab management’s callousness about nuclear risks and its desire to put its own profits above safety.When this exodus was in turn noticed in Washington, officials there concluded the privately-run lab was not adequately protecting its workers from a radiation disaster. In 2013, they worked with the lab director to shut down its plutonium handling operations so the workforce could be retrained to meet modern safety standards.Those efforts never fully succeeded, however, and so what was anticipated as a brief work stoppage has turned into a nearly four-year shutdown of portions of the huge laboratory building where the plutonium work is located, known as PF-4.Officials privately say that the closure in turn undermined the nation’s ability to fabricate the cores of new nuclear weapons and obstructed key scientific examinations of existing weapons to ensure they still work. The exact cost to taxpayers of idling the facility is unclear, but an internal Los Alamos report estimated in 2013 that shutting down the lab where such work is conducted costs the government as much as $1.36 million a day in lost productivity.And most remarkably, Los Alamos’s managers still have not figured out a way to fully meet the most elemental nuclear safety standards. When the Energy Department on Feb. 1 released its annual report card reviewing criticality risks at each of its 24 nuclear sites, ranging from research reactors to weapon labs, Los Alamos singularly did “not meet expectations.”In fact, Los Alamos violated nuclear industry rules for guarding against a criticality accident three times more often last year than the Energy Department’s 23 other nuclear installations combined, that report said. Because of its shortcomings, federal permission has not been granted for renewed work with plutonium liquids, needed to purify plutonium taken from older warheads for reuse, normally a routine practice.Moreover, a year-long investigation by the Center makes clear that pushing the rods too closely together in 2011 wasn’t the first time that Los Alamos workers had mishandled plutonium and risked deaths from an inadvertent burst of radiation. Between 2005 and 2016, the lab’s persistent and serious shortcomings in “criticality” safety have been criticized in more than 40 reports by government oversight agencies, teams of nuclear safety experts, and the lab’s own staff.The technicians’ improvised photo-op, an internal Energy Department report concluded later, revealed the staff had become “de-sensitized” to the risk of a serious accident. Other reports have described flimsy workplace safety policies that repeatedly left workers uninformed of proper procedures and left plutonium packed hundreds of times into dangerously close quarters or without appropriate shielding to prevent a serious accident.Workplace safety, many of the reports say, has frequently taken a back seat to profit-seeking at the Los Alamos, New Mexico, lab — which is run by a group of three private firms and the University of California — as managers there chase lucrative government bonuses tied to accomplishing specific goals for producing and recycling the plutonium parts of nuclear weapons.And these safety challenges aren’t confined to Los Alamos. The Center’s probe revealed a frightening series of glaring worker safety risks, previously unpublicized accidents, and dangerously lax management practices. The investigation further revealed that the penalties imposed by the government on the private firms that make America’s nuclear weapons were typically just pinpricks, and that instead the firms annually were awarded large profits in the same years that major safety lapses occurred. Some were awarded new contracts despite repeated, avoidable accidents, including some that exposed workers to radiation. The telltale blue flash that followed gave Slotin enough radiation to kill him five times over, and the seven observers in the room received doses ranging from nearly lethal to benign. Slotin prevented a worse calamity by quickly separating the two halves of the pit, before the reaction could become self-sustaining. Nine days later, he died at the age of 35.It happened again at Los Alamos, twelve years later, when chemist Cecil Kelley stood on a small ladder to stir a vat that included plutonium residue. When it became too concentrated, workers outside saw a bright blue flash and heard a dull thud. Soon, they saw Kelley standing outside, bewildered. “I’m burning up!” he screamed. “I’m burning up.”The first medics to treat Kelley weren’t sure what had happened because he was working alone and too stunned to describe his experience. A nurse, among the first to treat him, didn’t suspect he’d been exposed to radiation and remarked on his “nice pink skin,” a sunburn-like symptom of his radiation exposure, according to an account of the accident  published in the journal Los Alamos Science in 1995.Kelley died at the hospital in Los Alamos about 35 hours after the accident.These deaths were all avoidable. “The human element was not only present but the dominant cause in all of the accidents,” a team of criticality safety experts from Los Alamos and their Russian counterparts wrote in a definitive study of 60 criticality accidents published by the lab in 2000.Reports over the past decade suggest, however, that these mistakes didn’t have a huge impact on criticality practices at Los Alamos. That lab has always been the most prominent and best funded — and according to Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman’s notorious remark at a 2007 congressional hearing, the most infected by “arrogance” and resistant to independent scrutiny — of the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories.In 2005, shortly before the profit-making firms wrested majority control of the laboratory from the University of California, the lab’s “nuclear criticality safety program did not meet many of the” nuclear industry’s standards, according to a DOE report in 2008.“We couldn’t prove we were safe,” said Doug Bowen, a nuclear engineer who was on the laboratory’s criticality safety staff at the time, “not even close.”Two months after the takeover, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board — an independent federal oversight agency in Washington — concluded that the lab’s staff of 10 criticality safety engineers would need to more than triple. Its chairman also said the deficiencies hadn’t gotten adequate attention from the NNSA.Los Alamos’s director of nuclear and high-hazard operations at the time, Robert McQuinn, dismissed that complaint in a written reply the following month. “LANL does not believe an inadvertent criticality is credible,” McQuinn said, without referencing the lab’s history. But he also promised the lab “has and is continuing to make significant progress in resolving the issues.”But safety was not the foremost concern in Washington. To encourage higher efficiency and productivity, the Energy Department waved millions of dollars at its new corporate partners* as potential rewards for meeting deadlines for designing weapons and building bomb components at PF-4. Doing so created a mindset among managers and their work crews that posed challenges for safety experts like Bowen.“Operations is always going to try to push the boundaries so they can produce as much as they can within the safety envelope when they’re pushing to get something done,” Bowen said. “Occasionally, they make decisions that they assume are going to be okay” but instead wind up exceeding limits, he explained.A bonus was also offered if the laboratory started meeting basic criticality safety standards. But Bowen said that, in his view, meeting minimum requirements shouldn’t need and didn’t deserve bonus pay.The new corporate group promised to bring the lab up to the required safety standards in 2007. But that September, when members of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board inspected plutonium vaults at PF-4, they discovered much more material present than inventories showed, posing new risks of spontaneous fissioning if some of it became too tightly packed together. So in September 2007, the lab shut down PF-4 for a month and told DOE it had created a Nuclear Criticality Safety Board to analyze and fix the lab’s persistent problems.In 2010, when the Energy Department did a checkup, however, it found “no official notes or records” the group had ever met, according to an internal Energy Department report. The lab’s promised date to improve criticality safety had slid to 2008, then 2010, and then to 2011.Too much plutonium in a glove boxWhen a nuclear technician put those eight plutonium rods dangerously close together on the afternoon of Aug. 11, 2011, he used a “glove box” — a device with gloved portholes that is designed to contain any radioactive particles — that he lacked permission to use. A sign on the box specifically warned against packing too much material inside, but he ignored it and went roughly 25 percent over the limit.In one photo, obtained by the Center, two of the rods are touching each other as they rest on a roll of duct tape.  In another, eight rods are clustered tightly enough to fit within a pencil’s length, propped up against a pyramid-shaped stick with black and yellow candy stripes to indicate “caution.” Workers had forged the plutonium rods as aliquots — samples that could be useful to researchers in the weapons program and to teams trying to perfect the conversion of weaponized plutonium into fuel for civilian power plants.Bowen, who was then Los Alamos’s top criticality safety expert and now supervises safety work throughout the weapons program, recalls getting a phone call about the technicians’ error from an assistant lab director around 90 minutes after it had been discovered. By then, the rods had already been picked up and moved by hand while other work in the room continued — contrary to procedures calling for an evacuation, his immediate notification, and for the dispatch of workers in hazmat suits to reconfigure the rods.It was also a violation of the approach McMillan touts in the LANL promotional video. “I think it’s critical that if something doesn’t feel quite right, then you pause the work,” MacMillan said there. “It’s a lot better to stop than it is to just muscle through.”Reaching into the box was dangerous, said Don Nichols, the NNSA associate administrator for safety and health at the time, because the water present in human bodies reflects neutrons and slows their speed, increasing the likelihood that those emitted by plutonium will collide with the nuclei of other plutonium atoms and emit more neutrons, triggering a nuclear chain reaction, with its accompanying release of energy and radiation.As a result, Nichols said, the first thing to do upon noticing a near-criticality is “the opposite of what you want to do,” such as reach in and separate the offending materials. Instead, he said, those in charge should get “everyone to back off” and then call for engineers to start calculating safe approaches. TIMELINE BY PATRICK MALONE AND JARED BENNETT Read more…last_img read more

Hundreds of astronomers rally behind whistleblowers at controversial Swiss institute

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Hundreds of astronomers rally behind whistleblowers at controversial Swiss institute Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Gretchen VogelNov. 2, 2017 , 4:01 PM That is “a distorted view of what excellence looks like,” says Bryan Gaensler, an astronomer at the University of Toronto in Canada who helped draft the new letter in response. Carollo’s defenders “seemed either to assign blame to the victims for what they experienced or to tell them to toughen up,” he says. “We wanted to show them that the community largely stood with them.”The new letter attracted 690 signatures within 2 days after being posted online. “A scientist’s aptitude for excellent research is completely unrelated to their ability as a supervisor,” the letter says. “Research and mentorship are separate skills, and all astronomers should aspire to be outstanding at both of them.” The letter urges “all scientists to reflect on how they can be better supervisors, and to commit to ongoing training and self-improvement in this area.”Gaensler says the letter and signatures were forwarded to the affected students this morning. Carollo has said she cannot comment on the case.center_img Nearly 700 astronomers have signed a letter of support for early-career researchers who recently reported cases of alleged bullying at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. The university announced last week that it would launch an external investigation into allegations that a leading professor of astronomy, Marcella Carollo, had exhibited “inept management conduct toward many of her graduate students.”The ETH investigation follows the university’s August decision to close the Institute for Astronomy, where the alleged mistreatment took place. That decision was made quietly, and few in the astronomy community noticed until 21 October, when the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported extensively on the allegations, including charges that authorities had ignored earlier reports of misconduct.After the story appeared, two dozen of Carollo’s colleagues and former lab members drafted a letter defending her and her husband, cosmologist Simon Lilly, both of whom were hired in 2002 to launch the institute. That letter acknowledged that Carollo could be “a relentless task master” but said this stemmed from a strong commitment to her students and a “desire to maximise their career chances.” ETH Zurich has announced an investigation into alleged mistreatment of researchers at its Institute for Astronomy. Email trabantos/shutterstock last_img read more