News Article | January 20, 2016
Employers have always aimed to maximize worker productivity. Today they might exploit the connectivity of email, smartphones, and Slack to extend the reach of the modern workday, big reasons we’re working more and sleeping less. In the 1990s, though, Russian scientists tried it the other way around. They took a different, more dramatic approach to lengthening the day—they launched massive machines into orbit to reflect sunlight down onto the dark side of the Earth. It’s true: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it’s that too. The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off. A bright young engineer in the USSR, Vladimir Syromyatnikov graduated from a technical university in Moscow in the 1956. At the age of 23, he earned a position in Russia’s elite space and rocket design program, then called the Special Design Bureau Number 1 of Research and Development Institute Number 88 (this was Soviet Russia, recall), and later known as Energia. Syromyatnikov went to work under Sergey Korolev, the head designer of the ballistic missile that launched Sputnik—the world’s first artificial satellite—into orbit in 1957. There, he helped design the world’s first manned spaceship, the Vostok, that hurtled Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961. The hardworking engineer quickly rose through the ranks of the Russian space program, due largely to his brilliance with docking systems. Today, he’s probably best known for inventing the mechanism that allows two spacecraft to link up. He built the Androgynous Peripheral Attach System, which allowed the American and Soyuz spacecraft to connect in 1970. His designs are still used in the shuttles that dock at the International Space Station. "We used to call him 'big cheese,' and he liked that term," Bruce Brandt, an American engineer on the Soyuz-Apollo program, told the Washington Post. "He was always thinking. If there was a problem, he always had a sketch pad. We had our shares of failures and problems in the test [phase]... but it wouldn't be long, sometimes overnight, before there would be solutions." His system, to date, has never failed in space a single time in over 200 docking operations. But by the late 1980s, what Syromyatnikov really wanted to do was to design a solar sail that could harness the power of the sun to propel a spacecraft through the galaxy—one that could also, say, reflect sunlight back to Earth during the dead of night. His statesmen, however, saw a unique way to maximize labor efficiency. Throughout the Soviet era, Russian scientists were obsessed with finding ways to increase the productivity of farmlands and workers in Russia’s northern regions, where days would grow very long in the summer and extremely short in the winter. In 1988, Syromyatnikov seized on the idea of daylight extension, apparently as a pitch to get backers to support his solar sails. He retooled the focus of his design to function as a space mirror, and founded the Space Regatta Consortium. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the general objective remained in Russian scientific circles, driven on, perhaps, by institutional inertia. “The initial impetus for the project was to provide illumination for industrial and natural resource exploitation in remote geographical areas with long polar nights in Siberia and western Russia, allowing outdoor work to proceed round the clock,” Jonathan Crary, a professor of art and theory at Columbia University, writes in his book about the rise of the round-the-clock labor paradigm, 24/7. “But the company subsequently expanded its plans to include the possibility of supplying nighttime lighting for entire metropolitan areas. Reasoning that it could reduce energy costs for electric lighting, the company’s slogan pitched its services as ‘daylight all night long.'” "Think what it will mean for the future of mankind," Syromyadnikov would later tell the Moscow Times. "No more electricity bills, no more long, dark winters. This is a serious breakthrough for technology." He assembled a team that would build the satellite that would come to be known as the Znamya (“Banner”). It was, essentially, a 65-foot wide space mirror. “In much the way a schoolchild playing with a hand mirror learns to reflect a spot of light from a bright window into the crannies of his room, some scientists believe they can put large, orbiting mirrors above Earth that could illuminate darkened areas below with spots of reflected sunlight that measure tens of miles across,” The New York Times explained in a 1993 article on Znamya. The satellite would be launched from Earth to the Mir space station, then from Mir into orbit. Once there, it would unfurl in eight sections, spanning 20 meters, that would deflect sunlight back to earth, illuminating a nightbound hemisphere. This would, theoretically, reduce the costs of lighting existing cities, as well as allowing longer workdays in darker regions. The project’s engineers tallied its other potential boons in a document later drafted to promote Znamya: “-a system of artificial illumination may prove invaluable for the support of rescue operations during industrial and natural disasters -the illumination might be helpful during law-enforcement and anti-terrorist campaigns; -the light from space can also help during special construction projects and other industrial activities” The plan was to first test a 65-foot mirror (Znamya 2), then a 82-foot version (Znamya 2.5), finalize the test phase with a 230-foot mirror (Znamya 3), and, eventually launch a permanent 656-foot space mirror installation that would be capable of fully turning early night in Russian cities into something close to full-blown day. “Russians to Test Space Mirror As Giant Night Light for Earth,” the aptly titled Times story announced. It continues: “If it can be done, proponents say, providing sunshine at night could save billions of dollars each year in electrical lighting costs, extend twilight hours during planting and harvesting seasons to aid farmers, allow more working hours on large construction projects and help in rescue and recovery operations after natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.” The only thing to be lost was some sleep. “The scheme called for a chain of many satellites to be placed in sun-synchronized orbits at an altitude of 1700 kilometers, each one equipped with fold-out parabolic reflectors of paper-thin material,” Crary writes. “Once fully extended to 200 meters in diameter, each mirror satellite would have the capacity to illuminate a ten-square-mile area on earth with a brightness nearly 100 times greater than moonlight.” Building Znamya was a slapdash affair; the collapse of the Soviet Union had left the nation’s science institutions under-funded, and many engineers and technicians found themselves volunteering their time to support the cause. The satellite itself was patched together from donated equipment. The financial support that did arrive came from a patchwork consortium of remaining state-owned space companies and research groups, NPO Energia among them. After years of development, in 1992, Syromyatnikov and his team launched the 88-pound Znamya-2 into space aboard a vessel called Progress M15, bound for the Mir space station as a secondary payload. Listen to the Radio Motherboard episode about sleep hacking your room. The podcast is available on iTunes and on your favorite podcast app. "This should be a marvelous technical demonstration," James E. Oberg an ex-NASA expert on Russian space programs said at the time. "It's an idea they've talked about for a long time, and now they will have a chance to see if it works." Znamya sat idle for months. “The reflector was to have been deployed in December, but Russian space authorities delayed it,” the Times reported in a follow-up story. “Plans now call for the Mir astronauts to fit the drum containing Banner into the docking port of the Progress before the unmanned supply ship leaves the station on Feb. 4 or 5. When the Progress is 500 feet from Mir, Banner is to be deployed by an electric motor that spins its drum and unfolds the eight-segment reflector disk like a Japanese fan. The mirror will orbit at an altitude of about 225 miles, and from Earth will look like a bright star.” And that bright star would shine down on Earth with the light of a full moon—or more. “The experiment will test the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons.” Think about that for a second: Several full moons. The night sky can, of course, be bright indeed, like a grey twilight, with a single full moon. Several full moons would surely kill the need for a flashlight. As planned, on February 4, Znamya left Mir. When it found its orbit a safe distance away, the mirror successfully deployed. And, sure enough, it sent a five kilometer-wide beam of light back down to Earth. The beam swept through Europe, moving from the south of France to western Russia at a reported speed of eight kilometers per second. “Several” turned out to be an overstatement—its luminosity was equivalent to a single full moon’s. Unfortunately, excessive cloud cover prevented the effect from being seen much on land; as the BBC reported, some Europeans reported noticing a flash of light as it glanced by, but that was about it. Still, the theory had proved correct, and the design was sound. Znamya was de-orbited after a few hours and burned up in the atmosphere above Canada upon reentry. "The reflector was a big success because it proved the concept was right," Nikolai N. Sevastyanov, a ranking project engineer on Znamya told the Times. "Now we must seek support to build one of bigger size." Znamya 2 earned the team accolades and enough resources to pursue another go. It also net them some glowing press attention. “Russian Space Scientists Seek Eternal Light,” was the headline of a July 1998 Moscow Times story, which opened as follows: “Deep in the bowels of the Russian space industry, visionary scientists have a plan to put an end to the long dark of winter… It is all so simple. Using a chain of huge mirrors suspended above Earth and angled to catch the sun's rays, they would save billions in heating and lighting bills.” After refining the designs and widening the scope—Znamya 2.5 would be 82 feet wide, and able to control and focus its light beam—Syromyatnikov and his team were eying another launch date. A cargo run to Mir was coming up in November, and, as the Moscow Times asked, “Why not just attach a giant reflective membrane to the rocket, set it loose and then bring hours of extra daylight to Russia's northern cities?” Anticipation was growing; the boldness of the project had made it closely watched in scientific circles, and in the science-interested worldwide. And the plans were getting bolder. Znamya 3 was already beginning construction. "We are pioneers in the field," Vladimir Syromyadnikov, now director of the Russian Space Regatta Consortium, told the Times. "If the experiment goes according to plan, we propose to send dozens more craft into space in the future on a permanent basis." The project was assuming a grand scale, and not to everyone’s liking. “Opposition to the project arose immediately and from many directions,” according to Jonathan Crary. “Astronomers expressed dismay because of the consequences for most earth-based space observation. Scientists and environmentalists declared it would have detrimental physiological consequences for both animals and humans, in that the absence of regular alternations between night and day would disrupt various metabolic patterns, including sleep. There were also protests from cultural and humanitarian groups, who argued that the night sky is a commons to which all of humanity is entitled to have access, and that the ability to experience the darkness of night and observe observe the stars is a basic human right that no corporation can nullify.” The opposition was well known to the scientists. “Russian space officials have been receiving complaints from astronomers and environmentalists that Znamya will pollute the night sky with unwanted light,” the BBC reported in 1999. The complaints weren’t really about Znamya 2.5, specifically; they were about the forthcoming set of permanent space mirrors that Syromynadnikov was aiming to build. The permanent transformation of small parts of night into day. "If it works, they'll be able to light up five or six Russian cities," the space expert Leo Enright said. Suddenly, lighting up entire cities—even entire regions—usually darkened by night had become a palpably valid prospect. News outlets like the BBC even published guides of where the satellite's reflection would be visible, so the lucky few in position could watch a flash of light puncture the day. So the world was watching on February 5, 1999, when the second, larger Znamya was finally thrust out of Mir. As it was deployed, however, one of the mirrors caught on Mir’s antennae, and ripped. Mission control tried to free the snagged space mirror, but it was too late. The thrashed sequel to Znamya was reluctantly de-orbited and burned up a failure. Syromyatnikov tried to salvage the misfire, and pressed on with plans to build Znamya 3. He is listed as the sole contact person on a website built for the project at the end of 1999, and which still persists today—with his personal email and phone number attached. “Looking forward to the space reflector experiment a lot of people all over the world and the participants interested in technical progress and investigation of the universe for peaceful goals were greatly sorry about failure to carry out the experiment completely,” he writes, noting that his team received letters of support from nations around the globe. “After completing the experiment we were requested to continue the project, not to be disappointed, not lose our hearts. The way into unexploredness is a challenge.” That challenge requires substantial funding, however. Near the end of the document is an impassioned call for investors: “Actually we are considering the possibilities to repeat the Znamya-2.5 experiment, and as well as prepare and carry out the Znamya-3 experiment with the 70-meter reflector within the framework of the scheduled experimental program,” he says. “But only enthusiasm is not enough. The funding of the Znamya-2.5 experiment was extremely tight... For lack of government finances to support scientific researches we hope to find home and foreign sponsors. This is one of the way the development process of solar sail spacecraft, space illumination system and as well as other high technologies could be speeded up.” (Even here, at the end he can’t help but plug the solar sails that birthed the ill-fated enterprise.) It’s impossible to say how much the Znamya actually ended up costing in total—the Times reported that the Znamya 2 likely cost $10 million for the hardware alone, discounting launch costs—but Syromyatnikov was asking for over $100 million for the larger Znamya 3. He projected that ultimately, the permanent series of daylight-regulating reflectors that the Znamya experiments were leading up to would cost over $340 million to build, launch and operate. He claimed nonetheless that the perma-Znamya would be profitable in just two to three years, due to reduced lighting costs in big cities and the disaster response services it would provide. The investors never came. After the failure of Znamy 2.5, they lost interest in the project, Znamya 3 was aborted, and Syromyatnikov was relegated to designing space mirrors only conceptually. He was forced to give up his dream of launching solar sailing ships. The quest to turn day into night from space was over, and night had won. Syromyatnikov went back to work on docking systems, which he would carry out until his death in 2006. Just before he died, in 2006, he gave an interview to IEEE Spectrum, in which he recounted working nonstop, well into his 70s, often on docking mechanisms for the Soyuz rockets. "I start my work early in the morning, usually at 5 o'clock, sometimes 4 o'clock," he said. "It's very early to bed and very early to rise. Every morning I do my physical exercises for 20 minutes to a half hour—and I work all weekends." The man who was diligently seeking to physically extend the workday with a giant space mirror wished that he himself never had to sleep. One of Syromyatnikov's favorite slogans is, he tells IEEE, "The best rest is to work until lunchtime. So then you feel the day was not lost—and in the hours that are left you can do different activities, less critical tasks." We are again thinking of orbital, sun-reflecting satellites. This time, the aim is primarily to beam a huge amount of solar power down to earth. The likes of US Naval Research Lab have been studying the prospect intently, and Japan's Aerospace Agency plans on launching an orbital solar power plant within the decade. The US has one that could be ready around then, too. John Mankins, the ex-NASA brain behind the US's SPS-ALPHA, argues that a "single solar power satellite would deliver power to on the order of a third of humanity." And as Syromyatnikov and his crew proved, giant space reflectors are far from the charter of science fiction alone. The fascinating thing, in retrospect, is that Syromyatnikov himself never seemed to stop working. He seemed to actively disparage sleeping—and the night. He was always working. Even into his 70s, he adhered to a strict work regimen, toiling on docking systems for the Soyuz rockets. "I understand how to design," he told IEEE. "You should feel, maybe by intuition, what lies ahead in the process, what should be done, not just design alone, not just the original sketches, but the whole thing." It may be impossible for most of us to imagine the whole vision of Znamya—a world orbited by machines that regulate daylight—but we can understand the concept. It's one that's pressing up, sometimes uncomfortably in an increasingly sleepless world. “[T]his ultimately unworkable enterprise is one particular instance of a contemporary imaginary in which a state of permanent illumination is inseparable from the non-stop operation of global exchange and circulation,” Crary writes. “In its entrepreneurial excess, the project is a hyperbolic expression of an institutional intolerance of whatever obscures or prevents an instrumentalized and unending condition of visibility.” It’s a world where, like today, we sleep less, cede our days to distant technologies, with more lunae crowding our vision. Imagine instead of blinking screens on the bedside, they’re moonbright satellites. Syromyatnikov's Znamya can be read both as a pathbreaking and unduly forgotten experiment, as well as a cautionary tale of human hubris, of the perils of pushing the workday too far. We may try to use technology to bend night into day, but the laws of nature have a way of bending it back.
News Article | December 22, 2016
TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2016 Taiwan International Student Design Competition (TISDC) was organized and promoted by the Ministry of Education's Youth Development Administration (YDA) and sponsored by the Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation and the iSee Taiwan Foundation. The four major categories in the 2016 competition attracted 14,864 entries from 69 countries and regions. The world-class panel of judges included 27 experts in design from 15 international organizations. Its scope of recruitment and evaluation criteria set the stage for the TISDC to become the top international design competition for students worldwide. In addition to the prizes for the entries in the four main categories, the Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation, with its vision of " Nurture a warmhearted society of humanist devotion and innovative thinking " and its groundings in Education, Innovation, and Caring, directly financed the 2016 YDA's International Design Organization Award, which expanded the number of awards in this category to 15, with a total prize outlay to NT$1.5 million. An official statement by the Sayling Wen Foundation expressed that the foundation hopes to encourage young designers by integrating their creativity with the multifaceted perspectives of international design organizations. For its part, the iSee Taiwan Foundation, in continuing to use culture, tourism and innovation to promote Taiwan's unique character and charms, again sponsored the TISDC Brand Specific Awards. A total of 621 entries were received from students in Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, India, Russia, Israel and elsewhere under this year's awards theme "The New Tableware Era - Taiwanese Cuisine & Cutlery Design". The award achieved its aim of helping students and the world experience the essence of Taiwanese culture. This year's TISDC brand-specific category prizes not only added a splash of excitement to the contest but also welcomed the world to partake in Taiwan's deep and vibrantly delicious food culture. The iSee Taiwan Foundation is committed to becoming an important window on Taiwan for the world. At this year's TISDC, the Foundation actively promoted Taiwanese food and culture through its sponsorship of the Brand Specific Category awards. The theme this year was "The New Tableware Era - Taiwanese Cuisine & Cutlery Design", with five 1st Prizes, five 2nd Prizes and eight 3rd Prizes. These five award winners used innovative and exquisitely executed designs in their tableware entries that highlighted Taiwan's food culture. All deeply impressed the judges and earned first prize recognitions. The entry "Hakka Pounded Tea" by students Ying-Chun Lin, Chiao-Chen Wang, Yu-Xuan Huang, and Yi-Chia Chen from Hsing Wu University of Science and Technology combines Hakka lei cha (hand-ground tea) and tableware design. The ingredients for the tea are poured into the container in an entertaining way before being ground into lei cha. The fun design helps capture and convey the beauty of Taiwan's Hakka culture to new generations. "Food-Time Travel" by students Wen-Cheng Tian, Yu-Wen Wang, Ying Cui, and Min Wei from Anyang Institute of Technology enhances the flavors of food over time by pairing 24 of Taiwan's best-known attractions with the traditional "24 seasonal segments" of Chinese tradition. "Rice Bowl of Mountain Scene" by students Po-Chun Chen, Yu-Fang Hung, and Po-Jui Wu uses Taiwan's world famous rice to depict Taiwan's Five Peaks in a sea of clouds. "Impression of Taiwan" by students Guang-HongYao, Bing-Cao Chao, and Meng-Juan Wang from Fuzhou University presents a set of utensils featuring Taiwan's scenery and cuisine for inspiration, reminding users of Taiwan's scenery while enjoying their meal. "Aromatic" by Ying-Chih Wang of Tatung University integrates images of Taiwan's Sun Moon Lake, Alishan's cloud sea, and Yangmingshan's flower season to accentuate the beauty of Taiwan's tourist attractions while users enjoy its exceptional cuisine. 2016 GTDF Strengthens Visitors' Impressions of Taiwan, Increases International Exchange, and Injects New Innovative Energy into Taiwan's Design Industry In order to fully promote the beauty of Taiwanese culture and to take advantage of having so many international designers in Taiwan, the iSee Taiwan Foundation held two tiers of events in conjunction with the 2016 Global Talent Design Festival(GTDF) in October and November. The culture & art heritage-focused International VIP Cultural Tour included visits to the Asia University Museum of Modern Art, Paper Dome, Chung Tai World Museum, and the National Taichung Theater in October and to the National Palace Museum, the Beitou Museum, and northern Taiwan hot springs in November. The contemporary industrial design-focused Industrial Matching Tour included visits to the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute and the Chungyo Department Store in October and to the Taiwan design centers of Franz and Pegatron in November. Don Chen, CEO of the iSee Taiwan Foundation, noted that his foundation is expanding the level of cultural exchange from tertiary institutions to design industries and is looking forward to injecting new innovative energy into Taiwan's design community through industry-cooperation/synergy-related events and activities. Taiwan International Masters of Design Series Expands Design Vision of Students and Enhances Integration across Disciplines The vision of the Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation is to "cultivate a humane, caring and innovative society" through the cultivation of exceptional talent and the encouragement of innovative thinking. Taking advantage of the presence of so many world-class jurors in Taiwan, the foundation invited all of TISDC's 11 international jurors to jointly host the Taiwan International Masters of Design Lecture Series on November 29th. The series included lectures by Good Design Australia CEO Brandon Gien (Designing a Better Future), International Poster Biennial (Mexico) founder Xavier Bermudez (Visual Design: A Tool for Social Issues), and INDEX: Design to Improve Life CEO for Communications Adam von Haffner (How to Enhance Your Life, Society and the World). Other lecturers in the series were presented by International Council of Design Vice President Antoine Abi Aad, Thailand Creative & Design Center Managing Director Apisit Laistrooglai, Design Business Chamber of Singapore Honorary Secretary Chee Su Eing, National Institute of Design Director Pradyumna Vyas, International Council of Design President Elect Zachary Haris Ong, and South African Bureau of the Standards Design Institute Senior Manager Polisa Magqibelo. German Design Council Vice Chairman Janine Wunde presented lectures at the lecture series' Tainan venue. The common objectives linking all of the lectures were to expand the design vision of students in Taiwan and to enhance cross-field integration through professional exchange. In addition to planning expert lectures, the Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation has spared no effort in promoting new services and personnel training. In 2011, the foundation launched World Innovative Service Enabler (WISE), which has facilitated broad-based cooperation with Taiwan's education system. WISE develops and oversees six-month study tours that are designed to create new service industry talent that will be able to transform and upgrade Taiwan's service sector. Board Member & Acting Chief Executive of the Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation Jeter Her stressed the importance of pre-career learning at the university level. Giving students opportunities to participate in professional training and enterprise implementation activities helps these students gain professional knowledge, which makes them more attractive to employers as proactive drivers of service-industry reform and innovation. Mr. Ted Wen, the incumbent Chairman of the foundation, has declared three core principles for the foundation: Education, Innovation, and Care. Pivoted around these core values is his vision to "Nurture a warmhearted society of humanist devotion and innovative thinking." Going forward, the four pillars of the foundation will be embedding the Chinese culture education in primary and secondary schools, enhancing career skills and teamwork mindset for vocational and college students, promoting lifelong learning in community and advocating service innovation to boost national competitiveness. While Taiwan is on its way toward a sophisticated "Service Economy", the foundation will also continue to devote every effort to promote the four pillars with the aim to breed new service talents, enhance Taiwan's national competitiveness, and play a key enabling role to Taiwan's transformation. The foundation was established by Sayling Wen in 2003. Ted Wen became the Chairman in 2008, and set the Foundation's vision as "becoming an essential portal for the world to see Taiwan" in the three core realms of culture, tourism, and innovation. The dual missions of iSee Taiwan Foundation are to successfully market Taiwan's unique character and heritage globally and to make the world as Taiwan's service market. The foundation focuses on exploring, integrating and promoting the culture and friendly nature of people and places throughout Taiwan, with the goal of creating more opportunities for Taiwan's service industry. The iSee Taiwan Foundation and the Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation continue to support the TISDC in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. This year, their support has expanded to include the 2016 Global Talent Design Festival (GTDF). The festival offers a new and stimulating array of design-related activities, including: 1) The International Masters Joint University Forum, which will invite representatives from major design organizations worldwide to engage Taiwanese design students and faculty in topical, interactive discussions that spotlight and promote Taiwan's service-oriented strengths; 2) The International VIP Cultural Tour program, which will take visiting design professionals who are in Taiwan for the TISDC on in-depth, topical tours of Taiwan society and culture; and 3) The Industry Joint Reception, which will highlight Taiwan's innate elegance and beauty, which are inexhaustible sources of inspiration for the domestic design industry and the bedrock of ongoing efforts to showcase and promote Taiwan's design strengths to a global audience.
News Article | January 7, 2016
Lightning strikes about 100 times every second of the day, mainly in warmer regions of the world. About 240,000 people are injured by lightning every year, and 24,000 die after being struck. But humans aren’t the only victims of lightning — animals are, too, though reports of such deaths are far rarer than the deaths themselves. The latest documented animal deaths come in the January Marine Mammal Science. Peter Shaughnessy and Simon Goldworthy of the South Australian Research and Development Institute in Henley Beach were counting Australian sea lion pups on the Pages Islands in South Australia June 25, 2014, as part of a long-term monitoring project. On that day, they found four recently deceased sea lions — an adult female, a young male and two pups — lying dead at the base of a lighthouse on South Page Island. The researchers would have liked to necropsy the animals, but with access to the islands restricted, getting the sea lions back to shore wasn’t an option as they were too heavy to go back with the researchers on their helicopter. So Shaughnessy and Goldworthy settled for a close inspection of the bodies. Other pups found dead on the island around that time were emaciated, but these two appeared to have been well-nourished. And all four animals had no injuries or signs of trauma. Stormy weather had made the islands too dangerous to reach by boat or helicopter for the four days before the researchers arrived, so it was unlikely that humans were somehow responsible for the deaths. And ocean conditions weren’t right for a toxic algal bloom. Something else must have killed them. The only sign of damage to any of the sea lions were some “faint jagged linear marks consistent with burning” found on the back of the young male, the researchers write. The sea lions, they concluded, were probably unlucky bystanders when a bolt of lightning struck the lighthouse. Staff of the Australian Maritime Systems, which runs the lighthouse, reported that a really bad strike had happened on or about June 22. It was so bad that it destroyed lighthouse electrical equipment, a radar beacon and the main light, and even “blew out grouting on two of the concrete tower footings.” If lightning really is the cause of death for these animals, this would be the first report of such mortality in pinnipeds, the authors claim. But it wouldn’t be the first time scientists have reported finding animals that have died by lightning. When Shaughnessy and Goldworthy looked in the scientific literature, they found reports of caribou in Alaska, wild turkeys in Georgia and Canada geese in Saskatchewan dying by lightning strike. And in 2009 and 2010, Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology tallied up even more such strange deaths-by-lightning, including sheep, cows, elephants, antelope and giraffes. And as with humans, there are animal survivors, too. Karen Viste-Sparkman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was checking on bison in the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa in late July 2013 when she spotted a bull standing by himself with a large, clear, bloody burn on his back — most likely the result of a lightning strike. Viste-Sparkman nicknamed the poor bison “Sparky” and checked up on him over the following months. Though she did not expect the bull to survive, he did. Sparky is a bit thinner than the rest of his herd, FWS reports this week, but he appears to be strong and doing well. Direct strikes such as what happened to Sparky can be dangerous, but as Naish points out, many animals are killed by the deadly current that runs through the ground after lightning strikes nearby. That appears to be what killed the Australian sea lions. And it’s a reminder to all of us that when conditions seem ripe for lightning, it’s best to just head indoors. Editor's note: This post was updated January 10, 2016, to correct the spelling of Darren Naish's name.
News Article | November 29, 2016
The research, led by Flinders University with State Government and industry partners, will reap rewards for food production around the world after agreements are signed for its commercial development. The global licensing agreement between Flinders and Boston-based Indigo revolves around a series of specially selected plant microbes that can promote more robust plant growth for major grain and pasture staples – without the cost of additional chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These beneficial microbes, called endophytes, can be described as probiotics for plants. Thousands of endophyte strains, which occur naturally within healthy crop plants, had to be tested to arrive upon the 'winning formula' – first in glasshouse trials and then in the field. "With a significant gap between current food production and the anticipated needs of the growing world population, there is a real urgency to bring new innovation to agriculture," says David Perry, CEO and Director of Indigo. "Partnerships and collaborations like the one with Flinders are essential in developing microbiome products that can serve growers, consumers and the environment," he says. Under the terms of the agreement, Indigo and Flinders will partner in further development of the elite SA strains, with the goal to bring to market products that are designed to complement a plant's natural processes to improve resilience across each phase of plant development while boosting crop yields. The SA strains have been extensively studied in legumes, including perennial pasture crop lucerne, and have the potential to be beneficial to other crops. The research was conducted by Flinders University and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) – the research division of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) The research commenced more than a decade ago when Professor Chris Franco, using his background in antibiotic development in the pharmaceutical industry, experimented with taking 'beneficial microbes' from human health into the plant world. "The partnership with Indigo is very exciting for our plant microbe discoveries as it can support both IP development and large-scale trials in the field both in South Australia and overseas," Professor Franco says. "Our early studies confirmed the potential of the discoveries, with field trials with microbes treated as vital seed inoculants for lucerne production showing very promising results." In other small-scale trials, the local researchers also found certain microbes interacted with other microbes to dramatically improve nitrogen fixation in pastures and legumes, with increased yields of up to 50% seen in lucerne pasture and soy bean grain legumes. SARDI scientist Ross Ballard says the new microbes, when added during routine seed inoculation, improved nodulation and overall plant growth. In separate trials, with funding from Flinders and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the SA researchers also discovered other microbes for wheat and barley that can lift harvests by up to 10% and some of them control common diseases that regularly reduce yields. The microbes can be incorporated at seeding time, including as coatings on the seeds with the intent to promote faster and healthier growth. "It's always very difficult to take new research into the field, so we're very happy to have some big backers on board to explore the potential of our discoveries," Professor Franco said. "Finally we have got a real opportunity to get this sustainable technology onto the world stage," he says, acknowledging the contribution of Flinders and SARDI researchers Mr Ballard, Dr Steve Barnett, Sophia Zhao and former PhD student Hoang Xuyen Le. Explore further: For Indigo, microbes matter in the push for plant health
Chuengsamarn S.,Srinakharinwirot University |
Chuengsamarn S.,Brigham and Women's Hospital |
Rattanamongkolgul S.,Srinakharinwirot University |
Luechapudiporn R.,Chulalongkorn University |
And 3 more authors.
Diabetes Care | Year: 2012
OBJECTIVE - To assess the efficacy of curcumin in delaying development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in the prediabetic population. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial included subjects (n = 240) with criteria of prediabetes. All subjects were randomly assigned to receive either curcumin or placebo capsules for 9months. To assess the T2DM progression after curcumin treatments and to determine the number of subjects progressing to T2DM, changes in β-cell functions (homeostasis model assessment [HOMA]-β, C-peptide, and proinsulin/insulin), insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), anti-inflammatory cytokine (adiponectin), and other parameters were monitored at the baseline and at 3-, 6-, and 9-month visits during the course of intervention. RESULTS - After 9 months of treatment, 16.4% of subjects in the placebo group were diagnosed with T2DM, whereas none were diagnosed with T2DM in the curcumin-treated group. In addition, the curcumin-treated group showed a better overall function of β-cells, with higher HOMA-β (61.58 vs. 48.72; P < 0.01) and lower C-peptide (1.7 vs. 2.17; P < 0.05). The curcumin-treated group showed a lower level of HOMA-IR (3.22 vs. 4.04; P < 0.001) and higher adiponectin (22.46 vs. 18.45; P < 0.05) when compared with the placebo group. CONCLUSIONS - A 9-month curcumin intervention in a prediabetic population significantly lowered the number of prediabetic individuals who eventually developed T2DM. In addition, the curcumin treatment appeared to improve overall function of β-cells, with very minor adverse effects. Therefore, this study demonstrated that the curcumin intervention in a prediabetic population may be beneficial. © 2012 by the American Diabetes Association.
Gavrilova V.,Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje |
Kajdzanoska M.,Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje |
Kajdzanoska M.,Research and Development Institute |
Gjamovski V.,Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje |
Stefova M.,Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry | Year: 2011
The phenolic profile of four blueberry varieties (Vaccinium corymbosum L., cv. Toro, Legacy, Duke and Bluecrop) and two varieties (Rosenthal and Rovada) of red currants (Ribes rubrum L.) and black currants (Ribes nigrum L.) cultivated in Macedonia have been analyzed using HPLC coupled to diode-array detection and tandem mass spectrometry with electrospray ionization. A complex profile of anthocyanins, flavonols, flavan-3-ols and hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives has been assayed in acetone-acetic acid (99:1, v/v) extracts. Anthocyanins comprised the highest content of total phenolic compounds in currants (>85%) and lower and variety dependent in blueberries (35-74%). Hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives comprised 23-56% of total phenolics in blueberries and 1-6% in currants. Chlorogenic acid was the major hydroxycinnamic acid in blueberries, only in the Legacy variety, two malonyl-caffeoylquinic acid isomers were major components. Flavonols, mainly quercetin and myricetin glycosides, were a minor group, but glucosides of laricitrin and syringetin were also detected in the blueberry varieties counting for 10-34% of total flavonols. From flavan-3-ols, catechin was detected in most samples; the dimer B2 was specific for blueberries whereas epigallocatechin was detected in currants. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
Kajdzanoska M.,Gazi University |
Kajdzanoska M.,Research and Development Institute |
Petreska J.,Gazi University |
Stefova M.,Gazi University
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry | Year: 2011
Eight different solvent mixtures containing acetone or methanol pure or combined with an acid (acetic, formic, hydrochloric) were tested for their efficiency for extraction of phenolic compounds from strawberries belonging to five groups of polyphenols: anthocyanins, flavonols, flavan-3-ols, hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and conjugated forms of ellagic acid. Twentyeight compounds from these five groups have been detected and quantified using HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS". The yield of each phenolic compound and group was evaluated with regard to the extraction solvent composition. Acetone containing extraction mixtures were superior to the ones containing methanol for extraction yield of total phenolic compounds, which was especially pronounced for the groups of flavan-3-ols and conjugated forms of ellagic acid. The mixture acetone/acetic acid (99:1, v/v) gave the best results for the qualitative and quantitative assay of the polyphenols present in strawberries since all 28 compounds were detected only in these extracts in quantities higher or comparable to the other extraction solvents tested. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
Chon K.,Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology |
Kim S.J.,Research and Development Institute |
Moon J.,Machinery Metals and Construction Examination Bureau |
Cho J.,Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology
Water Research | Year: 2012
The effects of the combined coagulation-disk filtration (CC-DF) process on the fouling characteristics and behavior caused by interactions between effluent organic matter (EfOM) and the membrane surfaces of the ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in a pilot plant for municipal wastewater reclamation (MWR) were investigated. The feed water from secondary effluents was treated by the CC-DF process used as a pretreatment for the UF membrane to mitigate fouling formation and the permeate from the CC-DF process was further filtered by two UF membrane units in parallel arrangement and fed into four RO modules in a series connection. The CC-DF process was not sufficient to mitigate biofouling but the UF membrane was effective in mitigating biofouling on the RO membrane surfaces. Fouling of the UF and RO membranes was dominated by hydrophilic fractions of EfOM (e.g., polysaccharide-like and protein-like substances) and inorganic scaling (e.g., aluminum, calcium and silica). The desorbed UF membrane foulants included more aluminum species and hydrophobic fractions than the desorbed RO membrane foulants, which was presumably due to the residual coagulants and aluminum-humic substance complexes. The significant change in the surface chemistry of the RO membrane (a decrease in surface charge and an increase in contact angle of the fouled RO membranes) induced by the accumulation of hydrophilic EfOM onto the negatively charged RO membrane surface intensified the fouling formation of the fouled RO membrane by hydrophobic interaction between the humic substances of EfOM with relatively high hydrophobicity and the fouled RO membranes with decreased surface charge and increased contract angle. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Cunha R.G.,Research and Development Institute
Conference proceedings : ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference | Year: 2010
Cardiovascular diseases are the main causes of mortality, not only in Brazil, but around the world. The use of acupuncture as a complementary and alternative treatment for cardiovascular diseases has been suggested for animals as well as human beings. Possible advantages in using acupuncture are the low cost of treatment and low risks of collateral damage from a combination of acupuncture with other medical treatments. The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of traditional acupuncture with needles and laser acupuncture on arterial pressure and peripheral circulation of inferior limbs in patients with circulatory deficiency. Ten acupuncture points were stimulated in 40 individuals, being that 20 were stimulated by Aluminum gallium arsenide (AlGaAs) laser with emission in the red spectral region (650 nm) using an energy density of 2,4 J/cm2, and 20 were stimulated by systemic acupuncture needles. The analysis of peripheral circulation was performed based on the measurement of arterial pressure of the ankle and arms, using sphygmomanometer and Doppler equipment. The variance of the revascularization index of the laser acupuncture group was 0,057, and 0.030 for the needles group with p= 0,006. These results show that only those treated with laser acupuncture exhibit a significant increase in systolic pressure of their lower limbs, with a consequent improvement of the Revascularization Index, suggesting that different stimuli on acupuncture points generate different variations of peripheral resistance of lower limbs. is column.
Yu J.,Research and Development Institute
Applied Mechanics and Materials | Year: 2014
Using the method of numerical simulations to study fluid dynamic characteristic of underwater vehicle rotary motion, using the N-S equation k-ω turbulence model description of the steady rotation of the vehicle, this paper studies the numerical calculation method of aircraft rotating derivative underwater, using UDF programming to produce a stable pressure rotation the flow field, set up an numerical turning basin. Then based on the simulation analysis the influence of the different radius of gyration and different angle of attack on the vehicle motion. © (2014) Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.