Asteroid Hunter Gives an Update on the Threat of Near-Earth Objects An Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid could

knock out human civilization with a single blow, as most people are now aware thanks to recent Hollywood movies and public outreach by planetary scientists. Since 1998, when NASA initiated its Spaceguard program to find comets and asteroids 1 km in diameter and larger, researchers have made some crucial inventories of the risky space rocks with orbits that come into close proximity of Earth. For instance, there are almost 1,000 of these so-called near-Earth objects with diameters of 1-kilometer or more. However disconcerting this might seem, we can rest assured that none will make it here in our lifetimes. ―We can say with a very good deal of certainty that no asteroid or comet large enough to threaten life as we know it will hit Earth in the next 100 years,‖ says Donald Yeomans. At NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Yeomans is a senior research scientist and manager of the Near-Earth Object Program Office. He has spent his career studying the physical and dynamical modeling of near-Earth objects, as well as tracking them down. Yeomans works with an international network of professional and amateur astronomers who find and monitor asteroids and comets with orbits that come within approximately 0.33 AU, which is equivalent to 150 million kilometers. The team has identified 8,800 near-Earth objects as of early 2012, he noted during a talk at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on January 14 on his new bookNear-Earth Objects, Finding Them Before They Find Us. The book gives readers an inside account of the latest efforts to find, track and study life-threatening asteroids and comets. There are literally millions of asteroids and comets in the solar system, ranging in size from the microscopic to hundreds of kilometers in diameter. Both are made of rocky, metallic materials that failed to aggregate into planets during the early days of the solar system. Yeomans says the only real difference between asteroids and comets is that a comet actively loses its dust and ice when near the sun, causing a highly visible tail to form behind it. Scientists have made exponential progress in identifying and tracking near-Earth objects in the past decade. NASA-sponsored near-Earth object surveys have found 90 percent of all asteroids and comets larger than a kilometer in diameter and projected their orbits at least 100 years into the future. Yeomans says the challenge now is finding all asteroids larger than 35 meters across, the size where one would pose a threat to a town or city, rather than all life on Earth. Historically, Earth impacts by large asteroids and comets are rare. In addition, there is no clear record of a person being killed by one. Yeomans says that while Earth impacts by large asteroid and meteors are very low probability events, they are of very high consequence. A prime example is just outside Winslow, Ariz., where a large crater was blasted into the Earth 50,000 years ago by a nearly 30-meter asteroid. Despite its relatively small size, the asteroid generated around 10 megatons of energy upon collision. By comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II generated around 0.02 megatons. The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was much larger—a chunk of rock 10 to 15 kilometers across. The crater that formed when it struck near what is now the Yucatán Peninsula is 150 kilometers in diameter. The impact caused an immense explosion that deposited a layer of debris 10 meters deep as far as several hundred kilometers away from the impact and rained burning ash down on all corners of the globe. Most animals on the surface of the Earth died, and debris in the upper atmosphere launched the planet into a global winter. Many of the life forms that survived were either in the ocean or underground. Today, if a survey detected a giant NEO headed for Earth, Yeomans says, humanity would have more than 50 years to prepare for it. He says a spacecraft could theoretically be used to divert such an asteroid off its Earth-colliding trajectory and out into space, and put in his plug for his employer, or at least organizations that support human ingenuity. ―We have conceptual plans on how this could be done,‖ he says. ―The reason the dinosaurs went extinct is because they didn‘t have a space program.‖ Why I Want My Students to Read Jared Diamond‟s Latest Blockbuster, Part 2 In my last post, I defended mega-pundit Jared Diamond against his critics, especially social scientists who imply that a book may be scholarly or a bestseller but not both. Bullshit. Envy more than genuine scholarly disagreement seems to underpin much of the resentment toward Diamond. Anthropologists and other investigators of human behavior should applaud Diamond, not denigrate him, for showing that popular appeal and scholarly rigor are compatible. That is not to say that we shouldn‘t question Diamond‘s propositions about humanity. The chief value of his books—like those of Steven Pinker, Edward Wilson, Francis Fukuyama and other popular scientific synthesizers (all of whom I‘ve criticized)—is that they provoke informed debate about major issues facing us: What are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Where do we want to go? I‘m not crazy, for example, about Diamond‘s discussion of pre-state warfare in The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? He presents a kind of soft version of the claim of Richard Wrangham, Steven LeBlanc, Pinker and Wilson—the Harvard Hawks—that war was an affliction of prestate societies that civilization helped to solve. As I have pointed out on this blogand in The End of War, the evidence for this thesis is flimsy; according to the archaeological record, lethal group violence dates back only about 10,000 years, making warfare far more recent than art, music, religion and other cultural inventions. And yet Diamond‘s discussion of war, in spite of my quibbles, is intelligent, informed, interesting. The same is true of his analysis of societies‘ treatment of the elderly. Diamond devotes a chunk of World Until Yesterday to this subject, and he also focused on it when he spoke at my school, Stevens Institute of Technology, last Friday. The topic is urgent, given that throughout the industrialized world birth rates are falling while people are living longer. As a result, in the U.S. and other firstworld nations, the elderly are the fastest-growing section of the population. ―We have more old people and fewer young people than ever,‖ Diamond says. Some traditional societies, Diamond notes, venerate the aged. In rural Fiji, for example, old people live with and are cherished by their children, who may even pre-chew food for their toothless parents. Diamond quotes a Fijian acquaintance who was ―outraged that many old people are sent to retirement homes where they are visited only occasionally by their children. He burst out accusingly, ‗You throw away your old people and your own parents.‘‖ Diamond clearly sympathizes with this viewpoint. He criticizes the preference of companies for young job candidates; mandatory retirement rules, which are especially common in Europe; and a medical practice called age-based allocation of resources, in which hospitals give young patients priority over the old. He deplores the paucity of grey-haired, wrinkled actors in ads for soft drinks, beer and cars. ―Instead, pictures of old people are used to sell adult diapers, arthritis drugs and retirement plans.‖ Listing these indignities, the 75-year-old Diamond sometimes sounds like, well, a grumpy old man. He acknowledges that older people today ―enjoy on the average much longer lives, far better health, far more recreational opportunities and far less grief from deaths of their children than at any previous time in human history.‖ Moreover, living in a nursing home is surely preferable (isn‘t it?) to being abandoned, pushed off a cliff or buried alive, the fate of the old and infirm among many tribal societies. Diamond loves the fact that in some illiterate societies the elderly served as valuable sources of information about rare events. He describes a Southwest Pacific island in which cyclones periodically wiped out crops and other domesticated food sources. After such disasters the young relied on old people to tell them which

Berger‘s career path. are part of family planning. unruly toddlers? Diamond. my generation was taught that human evolution proceeded in a straight line from. Matthew found the remains of ancient antelopes—fossils that are quite common in the area. a foot and a pelvis. It is easy to envy the Bergers. Matthew. Today. asScientific American‘s board of editors wrote. who has provided abortion care for about 50 years in clinics in Texas and New Mexico. and on the front pages of newspapers including The New York Times. that is getting it totally wrong. just at that precise moment. I thought it was not fair. Chapter One: The First Bone ―Dad. he recognized a fossil. Copyright ©2012 Lee R. and how A. So many important fossils have been found in this area that it is called the Cradle of Humankind and is protected by the government and listed as a World Heritage Site. of Scientific American. he realized the treasure in his son‘s hands. to humans. the bones that make up the upper arm. As Dr. just as Scientific Americandid in an editorial in its May 2012issue. not one of the famous skeletons of prehumans still has a complete one. the 9-year-old son of paleoanthropologist Lee Berger discovered a fossil that landed Berger‘s team on the covers of the journal Science.‖ ―Skull in the Rock‖ is a great way to introduce young kids to evolution and to deepen older kids‘ understanding of how humans came to be. makes it easy to fall into the trap of viewing abortion services as outside of women‘s health care.6 m) from his son. he saw women patients in the hospital who were bleeding. Boyd. opened new horizons for women and kept populations from soaring. ―We now believe that nature tried all sorts of experiments in the millions of years during which troops of animals that walked upright on two feet lived in Africa. What more can you ask of a social scientist? “Skull in the Rock” Brings New Paleo Science to Kids [Excerpt] In 2008. And the one person in the world who knew that for sure was Dr. But the clavicle was just the beginning. depressions and other historical events that they have witnessed first-hand. the book was an essential reminder of how much the field has changed. His world went black and white. Wade. abortion pills. come here‖ the first telephone call 32 years later. It was the rabbit hole beckoning Alice. serves on the faculty at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. What he found was that important. I read it to my 6-year-old. Berger‘s team then went on to find two skulls. Dr. Berger came closer. For me. was joined on stage with Dr. Berger and his son. Diamond points out. the Cradle belongs to animals—visitors are watched by troops of baboons. the way we honor ―What hath God wrought?‖ the first telegraph message sent in 1844. who got the main gist and enjoyed the lifelike illustrations of early human ancestors like Lucy. For the fossil was a clavicle. The Bergers always bring their Rhodesian ridgebacks with them in their customized Jeep—since leopards and other predators prowl nearby.‖ Nine-year-old Matthew Berger was fossil hunting with his dad when he stumbled and spied a brown rock with a thin yellow bone stuck in it. South Africa that belonged to an entirely new species of human. thesis on just that bone and three others that would become important in this story. During that time. Yet when he was a graduate student. the young can learn so much from books and the internet that they don‘t need the memories of elders. and .D. Grandparents could also stay busy taking care of their childrens‘ children. He succeeds. unreliable babysitters and daycare centers. sediba fits into the story of human evolution. Matthew could tell that his dad assumed it was just another old antelope and was trying to be nice by pretending to be interested. They had often gone exploring together in the brown limestone hills and scraggly trees just outside of Johannesburg. even those that seem closed—that is what Dr. His decision to help women gain access to safe but then illegal abortions rested on ―the certainty that an unwanted pregnancy can ruin a woman‘s life. What if grandparents don‘t want to talk to bored. dodged by scampering warthogs. Matthew‘s words may be famous. Lee Berger. Berger had written his Ph. Reading this section I thought. For Dr. but a recent event in Manhattan belied that logical flaw. But that is not what his dad first thought. which Berger and his colleagues namedAustralopithicus Sediba. replacing costly. discovered a clavicle bone in Johannesburg. to wish you or I had the chance to find the bone. family planning has ―saved lives. Berger was thinking until he was about fifteen feet (4. Watson. Though the book is recommended for ages 10 and up. and pain management. in Roe v. But that‘s a good thing. Berger‘s own life story told him. His goal is not to solve all of our enormous social problems but to draw our attention to them and challenge us to find better solutions. talked about his years of practice before the landmark decision in 1973. On this pleasant August morning in 2008. Some day. Berger. the thin connecting bone across the shoulder that humans and our ancestors share—and that athletes in contact sports sometimes break. and the dogs smell and sense them in time to give warning.‖ all of which are major contributors to economic well-being. Though only half an hour from one of the largest cities in Africa. a significant disadvantage. to his credit. he froze. I‘ve found a fossil. South Africa. In high school. Berger and Marc Aronson. as Aronson writes. with co-author Marc Aronson. Linda Prine. infected and sometimes dying as result of botched illegal abortions. Berger. to chimpish animals that walked upright. Matthew was lucky: His father is Professor Lee Berger. Right then. a scientist who has devoted his life to finding the remains of our ancient ancestors. or ―Mr. Matthew called out to his dad—and opened a door two million years back in time. the wardrobe flung open to Narnia. right? Diamond‘s recommendations for improving the lives of the aged are also anti-climactic. 40 Years of Health Care for Women that Includes Access to Abortion Services Today‘s political rhetoric in the U.wild plants were edible.‖ Similarly. Women were at a disadvantage. ―so many different and puzzling branches of ancestors have been found that no one can say for sure which led to what. in-clinic abortions. He proposes that the elderly visit schools to tell students about wars. which can include counseling. part of health care and a critical element of women‘s health care. has penned a book for children that describes the discovery. it would have been enough to find that one special bone. Because the most important thing about the find is the doors it opens for the next new discovery. Curtis Boyd. all exceptionally well preserved. The bone is so fragile. Because his father had studied that part of the body. That is exactly what Dr. Time stopped. Because Matthew had trained his eyes. Every door leads somewhere. who brings reproductive health services to primary care. chimps. whose name was not publicized as part of the event on the advice of the FBI due to threats against him for his work providing abortions. Berger and Aronson & Glenn LLC. Every other time they had gone out together. and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins by Lee R. the first clue to what is becoming an entirely new way of understanding human evolution. to animals with larger brains that walked on two legs like Homo habilis. which turned out to be part of a nearly complete skeleton of an entirely new species (Australopithecus sediba) previously unknown to science. Berger says. a right hand. Dr.‖ As he explains. sullen teenagers or take care of squalling. a Boy. Reprinted with permission of the National Geographic Society from the book The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist. But as Dr. measured by soaring eagles. doesn‘t pretend that his suggestions ―will solve this huge problem‖ of aging. and could focus. Matthew was holding a gift from the past so precious almost nothing like it had ever been found.S. At the event last week hosted by Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health to mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court‘s decision to legalize abortion. Abortion services.

Church (with science writer Ed Regis) writes: You‘d start with a stem cell genome from a human adult and gradually reverse-engineer it into the Neanderthal genome or a reasonably close equivalent. They fail three percent to four percent of the time. and the question of Neandertal resurrection would certainly engage with the ethical concerns arising from all of these fields. as well as the recent publication of technologies for large scale bacterial genome engineering from George Church‘s lab led some people to ask whether it would be possible to clone Neandertals by a combination of gene synthesis. Church contradicts the interviewer when asked whether it would be ethical to create a Neandertal for the sake of curiosity. That‘s different from saying we want abortion to be legal. Parker said his dream regarding reproductive health is a day when abortion is a non-issue. The coincidence of the announcement of ancient and synthetic genomes. the ―donor cell‖ for a transplanted genome. a part of women‘s experiences.000 years ago. Craig Venter. two influential Science papers changed the way that we think about the past and future of genomes. an equal mix of men and women of various ethnic and racial backgrounds. involved in the founding of one of Church‘s many startup companies. on the parable of the Good Samaritan. and technology. ―As many as necessary!‖ Alpha males and “adventurous human females”: gender and synthetic genomics In May of 2010. when a woman ―is pregnant when she wants to be. and pre-natal detection of birth defects.‖ This statement drew loud applause from the 200 or so in the audience.‖ while the host cell whose membrane. Hillary Clinton advocated in 2005 in a speech where she tried to reframe her party‘s position on abortion to making it ―safe. He agrees that the reason a woman has for an abortion should not be subjected to hair-splitting. If you become a monoculture. adding that questions about abortion services force us to think about what is essential to human dignity and what it means to allow women to live out their lives with dignity. cytoplasm. He was meditating one day on a sermon delivered by Rev. Martin Luther King. then the whole Neanderthal creature itself could be cloned by a surrogate mother chimp–or by an extremely adventurous human female. As an atheist I know I only have the time between my birth and my death to accomplish something meaningful. the unpredictable host context that can confound synthetic biology designs. Church says: Well. Along with reminding the crowd of the importance of abortion services to women‘s health. a human being is the ―chassis‖ organism.‖ Parker said that he reversed his position on whether he should provide abortion services as a physician after several years of opposing them. As an optimist I wake up each morning with a new start on all my endeavors with hope and excitement.S. George Church himself has more recently made news by suggesting how such a future scenario might work in his recent book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.‖ he added. For such a technological commitment to human diversity. only 10% are the names of women. legal and rare. The decoding of the Neandertal genome showed that humans and Neandertals interbred some time before Neandertals went extinct some 30. it is these ―alpha males‖ who are written as the adventurous creators of new life forms and ―adventurous females‖ that are the anonymous vessels for their DNA-based creations. If society becomes comfortable with cloning and sees value in true human diversity. and synthetic biology in recent decades. ―At what point does a woman lose her humanity to make the decisions over this organism. safe and rare. not to recruit any surrogate mothers to a study.‖ the chemically synthesized genome came to be seen as ―life. In the Der Spiegel interview. As a scientist I explore and seek understanding of the world (s) around me and in me.‖ In the potential design of a Neandertal baby. wrote about how he sees himself in response to the 2013 Edge question ―What *Should* We Be Worried About‖: As a scientist. ―How many abortions?‖ Parker continued. curiosity may be part of it. and Dr. A couple weeks later.‖ in part with more abstinence counseling for teens. for species and also for whole societies. also mentioning that other factors can intervene even with planned pregnancies such as the death of a partner. In the sermon. ―Abortion as we know it will never be rare. the panelists also corrected a perception that abortion can ever be ―rare. an ob/gyn who serves on the boards for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Choice USA. an optimist. both natural and synthetic. and proteins ―booted up‖ the inert DNA is but the ―chassis. The ―extremely adventurous human female‖ mentioned in the context of Neandertal surrogacy (and easily replaceable by a chimpanzee) therefore represents a significant percentage ofall the women mentioned in the whole book. stem cell biology. Parker said. but it‘s not the most important driving force. he came to feel the immorality of not providing abortions if he was to represent himself as a women‘s health provider. and stem cell cloning.. Parker‘s reflections led him to reverse the question of concern in the sermon to ―What would happen to this person if I didn‘t stop to help him?‖ At that point. For Church. over her life?‖ Parker said. the prospect of cloning Neandertals is in large part about diversity. Multiply that by the number of women having sex on any given day and you‘ll arrive at a lot of unwanted pregnancies. which tend to fall disproportionately into the lives of low-income women and African-American women in the U. As an alpha male I believe I can and do work to solve problems and change the world. For now. the J. In the book‘s introduction. Prine suggested that people learn to talk more openly about their experiences around abortion to take the stigma and fear out of the decision and procedures to terminate a pregnancy. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity. King broke down why the actions of the Samaritan were good as he helped a beaten traveler even though he was from a despised group. ―Every contraceptive has failures. This observation points at not only the continuing lack of women and minorities in science.‖ as Sen. Therefore the recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance. This is true for culture or evolution. but at perhaps a deeper problem about the culturally perceived character of the engineer and the growing mythology surrounding well-known synthetic biologists. . genomics. ―You do it as often as it is needed. The main goal is to increase diversity. For Venter‘s ―Synthia. and only one of those names is a practicing academic synthetic biologist. I want to address just one very small social aspect of Church‘s statement. because birth control pills are not perfect. mammalian cloning. While the news storm has made it seem like this is an active area of research in the Church lab. ―Rare will never be the case. Of the approximately 160 names mentioned in the book‘s index. Jr. Craig Venter Institute announced theirchemical synthesis of a complete bacterial genome and its ―booting up‖ in a closely related cell. While the New Scientist article about the implications of the Neandertal genome was pessimistic on the short-term prospect of ―resurrecting‖ Neandertals. engineering. As we write the history of synthetic biology and the pioneering scientists and engineers who are rewriting the code of life.‖ Boyd pointed out.‖ Boyd noted. Church‘s book tells a very different story about diversity amongst the practitioners of synthetic biology. a major figure in genomics. Willy Parker. and how it affects the practice of synthetic biology.teaches at Planned Parenthood in New York City. desertion by a husband or boyfriend. and no stranger to the myth-making of scientists. George has been clear that his statements were meant to spark discussion about the myriad social and ethical aspects of such an endeavor given its possible technical feasibility. and to help women understand that abortion is sometimes a part of life. These stem cells cal produce tissues and organs. you are at great risk of perishing. an atheist and an alpha male I don‘t worry. human genome editing. Ethical concerns have been paramount in the development of reproductive technologies.

I had assumed it‘s all generated by satellites circling the earth and buoys floating in the ocean. knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. We‘re spending most of the day inside. While those technologies play a role. collective nature of the public data-collection efforts reveals an unexploited strength in our society that should give us hope. and consuming caffeine during the day to keep us going. faculty. and we may have trouble sleeping at times where we should sleep and we are sleepy at times when we should be fully awake. companies. ―Those five crew members who increased sleep time also increased their performance on this little attention test we had in the chamber. Earlier this month. Before we discuss the potential of cloned Neandertals to boost human diversity. and longer. especially during the work week. The Revolutionary War pre-empted these plans. By the end of the experiment. and that a real mission to Mars would require lighting that mimics more closely the natural light we are used to on Earth. six men emerged from a windowless capsule based on the site of the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. along with his colleagues. A recent paper in the journal PNAS documents the six-strong crew‘s sleep and activity patterns over the 520 days they were cooped up on their simulated mission to Mars and back.S. can also give us reason for optimism. and harder for women to be promoted and advance in their field. Cooperative Weather Observer Program: a citizen science network. Scientists have pooled the observations to reveal widespread patterns. so we‘re living under artificial light as well. where we are not as alert during the day as we would want to be. I also know that leaving these kinds of statements unexamined can lead to an environment that makes it harder for women working in these labs. But it‘s not all bad.‖ One overlooked aspect of the data. however. Except for one thing: they never actually left Earth. data on the key variables of temperature and precipitation have been. They carried out the same kinds of activities and experiments that any astronauts would do on such a mission. Although credit for the report is given to 240+ scientists and engineers who compiled the evidence about global climate change. What a fake Mars mission says about our own sleep habits On 4 November 2011. evidence for climate change is not because ―scientists say so‖. probably in part because it started generations before the term was coined. Russia. the backbone of the knowledge presented arises from efforts of unsung (and unwitting) heroes: people who collect weather data. ―We‘ll respond to the threat of climate change. we are also learning more about how we should be treating ourselves here on Earth. Apart from the one sleep-deprived crew member. You can read more about the results of the study in Science Now(and other places. some aspects of it were not too dissimilar from our daily lives: ―The other message is we‘re kind of doing the same that these crew members were doing. Because the data make it hard to remain optimistic. The new assessment is an impressive synthesis of the most up-to-date studies in the peer-reviewed literature about climate change. and they did get more sleep. Public contributions of weather measurements date as far back as the availability of instruments to measure weather. their performance was increasing. one crew member was living on a 25 hour day. ocean acidification. and trying to catch up on the weekend a little. water resources. lead author of the paper and Assistant Professor of Sleep and Chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Another suffered partial chronic sleep deprivation. and impacts on human health. By working out how to maintain that level of health for a long-distance spaceflight. damage to infrastructure. Thomas Jefferson wanted to deputize one person in every county in Virginia to collect temperature and wind data twice a day. we must first consider our role in boosting the diversity of our labs. It details negative impacts in a wide array of economic sectors. collected by otherwise ordinary people. but this one in particular is also of relevance to us back here on Earth. and agriculture. Basner told me: ―We‘re chronically sleep depriving ourselves.‖ He also thinks that. harder for women to be chosen as speakers at quantitative synthetic biology conferences. The data show the climate is already changing: rising sea-level. meaning every two weeks there came a point when it was the middle of the day for everyone else. Thus. found that four out of six of the crew members suffered sleep problems during their mission. people across the country have noted these observations in their backyards. cross-generational. Each study that involved rain. The Citizen Science of Climate Change: We are not bystanders Superstorm Sandy prior to the 2012 Presidential election put climate change on the mind of many voters. and temperature measurements drew those data from the U.‖ The astronauts that eventually go to Mars will need to be in top condition.‖ says Basner. All of the findings of this study are important for long distance space missions. hotter summers. It‘s often unclear where climate change data come from. but that‘s what it is. When founding our nation. enough time to (optimistically) go to Mars and back. But it turns out that it is. using simulated missions like this one.In such scientific imaginings we get futuristic versions of some very retrograde cultural ideas about gender. but for him it felt like the middle of the night. This might not sound good (we‘ve probably all experienced the sluggishness that sometimes follows a long morning lie-in). and still are. and rain in extremes: either heavier downpours or droughts. snow. from maple syrup in Vermont to oysters in Washington. but rather because the collective observations of people show we have shorter. many were thankful to hear Obama say at his inauguration. and took a computer test every week to measure how alert they were. for a successful trip.‖ The last line of the paper sums up: ―The essential need for humans to maintain sleep–wake activity cycles synchronized to the circadian biology that temporally coordinates human health and behavior appears to be as important on Earth as it will be en route to Mars. Mathias Basner. a Federal Advisory Committee of 13 collaborating agencies released a Draft Climate Assessment Report for public review. the unfortunate don‘t even have a window in their office. They had been inside their spaceship for 520 days. While I know that these men don‘t actually think of the women in their lives and in their labs as simply vessels for DNA (some of my best friends are male synthetic biologists!). and conferences with the humans that actually exist. This [experiment] just shows us that once these crew members had the opportunity to get more sleep. . which tracked movement and monitored light exposure. Basner and his colleagues think that the lighting on the spaceship was at least partly to blame for these problems. Each crew member wore a watch-like actigraph on their wrist. of course. everyone‘s sleep time increased over the mission. physically and mentally. The Program is not often referred to as citizen science. like many others. Separately. periods of extreme heat lasting longer than any living American can recall. while the situation the six Mars 500 crew members were in was quite unique. too). The coordinated. This could lead to similar kinds of circadian rhythm disorders as we saw in this one crew members. warmer winters.

did not bear out that hypothesis: not only did nightmares not stave off anxiety. Her mother had observed since 1956 and her father since 1987. we won‘t let down our children or future generations—indeed. which has been so hotly debated. Since then. "It's too important for any one country. Georgia." he says. You probably don‘t either. collective efforts embedded in family traditions and daily practices as seen in citizen science illustrate the attributes and possibilities we need to find the best path forward. actually bolster the Australian findings. who received a 25-year length of service award. notes that a poorly handled scientific announcement of this scale would have massive consequences for the reputations and funding of researchers. but if nightmares serve to diffuse that tension. in the form of burning fossil fuels. He adapted the idea from a maritime system he coordinated." says astrobiologist Christopher McKay. and humans wage war. following in her parents‘ footsteps. But if the dreams give rise to persistent anxiety and concern. When the weather service asked for help. "While microorganisms on Earth get very low moral regard … on Mars such microbes would be in a different category because they would be the only representatives of life on Mars. who organized a conference at the Royal Society in London that began today. gathering standardized weather data has been a tradition in many families at 12. says SETI founder Frank Drake of the SETI Institute in Mountain View. he comes from a farming family that has recorded since 1939. But are nightmares truly benign? Psychologists aren‘t so sure.1Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell. says Tore Nielsen. contained potential evidence of primitive life. And we can thank Robert Hoppe of Broadwater County. the Canadian researchers showed disturbing images (such as gory scenes or a women being forced into a van at knifepoint) to a group of healthy volunteers just before they went to bed. In other words. Relax. More Than Just a Bad Dream--A Nightmare's Impact on the Waking Brain Nightmares may fuel anxiety rather than serving as an emotional release. I don‘t know the solutions to global climate change. You awake with a pounding heart and clammy hands.S. however. In the late 1840s. President Grant formed an agency to coordinate a volunteer weather observer program. but people who reported being distressed about their dreams were even more likely to suffer from general anxiety than those who experienced an upsetting event such as the divorce of their parents. something more serious could be going on—and it may be a good idea to talk to a mental health professional about it. Take a look at theNational Weather Service newsletters honoring long-term service and you‘ll see Terrell Phillips of Douglas. "No government has plans" for what to do in the event of the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life. says astrophysicist Martin Dominik of the University of St Andrews. But any solutions will certainly involve collective action. of the University of Oxford. collective efforts of curious. who hopes the two-day conference will stimulate the interest of policy makers. Together. Palaeobiologist Simon Conway Morris of Cambridge University. Montana. people helped. UK.The concept kept recurring. He cited examples of convergent evolution in the Earth's biological history as evidence that there are a limited number of solutions to sensory and social organizational problems. recent research suggests that nocturnal torments are more likely to increase anxiety in waking life. Plans for alien contact found wanting Enormous satellite dishes make up the search party for extraterrestrial life. It is well known that stressful experiences cause nightmares. Nobody has decided whether it would be acceptable to commercialize microbes found in the Solar System. warned of the possible consequences of detecting extraterrestrial life. he told participants. Researchers want to avoid the conflict and confusion which surrounded the 1996 claim that a meteorite from Mars. those who had been deprived of dream-filled REM sleep were less emotionally affected than those deprived of other sleep phases. we‘ll teach them to participate. he adds. you think to yourself—it was just a bad dream. The Civil War pre-empted his land-based weather plans. where leaf-cutter ants pillage and plunder. for 40 years of service. We all will be forced to deal with climate change. Because of participation. . But Nielsen‘s most recent results. the only real framework for responding to the discovery of extraterrestrial life is in a document drafted by researchers involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). should a welcome party follow? Astronomers and biologists involved in the search for life on other planets are worried about a lack of regulatory and ethical policies to guide them. ALH 84001. It was our uncoordinated collective action. but in the event of success. You‘ll see Sara Waddell of Woodruff. Dominik says the United Nations should have a similar policy in place. director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory at Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal. Cooperative Weather Observer Program of the National Weather Service.S. It is possible. but the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) did send a representative to today's meeting. a prompt international announcement and refraining from responding immediately. The program eventually became the U. that some-thing is going wrong in the brains of individuals who experience a lot of anxiety. dedicated people. so the question is: which type of collective action do we prefer? The coordinated. having nightmares did not make dreamers more resilient in waking life—just the opposite. UK. There is no UK government policy on the detection or ethics of extraterrestrial life just yet. California. "If the phone rings." says Dominik. but accelerating – if it weren‘t for the one glimmer of hope that I see in all knowledge coproduced via citizen science: the power of the coordinated." The simple life Some researchers say there are important policy implications even for the discovery of less complicated life. UK. In 1870. Matthew Maury wanted farmers to collect weather data and share them via the telegraph so that his naval office could aggregate reports and make forecasts. was possible because we are not a country of bystanders. published in the Journal of Sleep Research last June. whereby weather information crowdsourced from merchant ships was turned into wind and current maps that quickened ocean travel. and social life elsewhere could be as violent as on Earth. "It's over the horizon for us. South Carolina. so that normal emotional processing during dreaming fails. McKay says that NASA abides by rules set by the international Committee on Space Research regarding environmental contamination during the exploration of other moons and planets. California. As President Obama said. A core of about 1. Most researchers agree that having an occasional nightmare is normal and not problematic. published in the journal Dreaming. An upcoming workshop will continue the discussion of space bioethics. It advises careful confirmation of the result. Although some continue to believe nightmares reduce psychological tensions by letting the brain act out its fears. troubled sleepers should have an easier time coping with emotional ordeals. or to what extent they should be protected. For now. What is not clear from these studies is whether nightmares play a causal role in anxiety or are merely an expression of an underlying problem. To tease out how REM sleep— during which most dreaming takes place—affects our emotions. dedicated. Alien senses could be similar to human senses.000 sites in the U. such as microbes within the Solar System. We are participators. In one study Australian researchers asked 624 high school students about their lives and nightmares during the past year and assessed their stress levels. we have an inkling of the threats that we face. It would be nearly impossible for me to accept the burden of the report‘s conclusions – climate change is not only real. The study. The discovery and understanding of global climate change." says POST adviser Sarah Bunn. When the subjects viewed the same pictures in the morning.200 of these sites has continuous history ideal for climate change research. that has made the climate change problem. And it was our coordinated collected action that informed us of the problem. people contribute about one million volunteer hours annually. The same was true for those who experienced fewer negative emotions in their dreams. who took over observations after his father passed away so that their weather station has operated for a continuous 50 years. of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field. "don't pick it up.

in which you have a defect in the lysosome. A year‘s supply of WaterYouWant retails for under $30. As for getting rid of the chlorine that your city or town adds to its drinking water on your own. Of course.000 a year. [An edited transcript of the interview follows. Much of the bottled water for sale in the U. an enzyme that converts glycogen to glucose. I called my water company and they said it is safe just let the tap run for awhile to rid the smell of the chlorine. which absorbs chlorine and other contaminants before they get into your glass or body.‖ says Lausch. according to The New York Times. Why is it classified as an orphan disease? They're called orphan diseases because we don't have treatments for them. according to a 2007 review published inPediatrics. ―It is certainly no coincidence that chlorine gas was used with deadly effectiveness as a weapon in the First World War. a saclike storage organelle in the cell that acts as a waste-disposal system. rectal and breast cancers. Kenmore. In 1998.S. Aquasana. Dear EarthTalk: I am very concerned about the amount of chlorine in my tap water. You discover very quickly that there's a gene defect and your child will suddenly start showing signs of progressive disease. Thousands of American municipalities add chlorine to their drinking water to get rid of microbes [CORRECTED ACCORDING TO EARTHTALK EMAIL]. In this case the gene should be making [acid alphaglucosidase]. ingestions of THMs in drinking water are particularly damaging to these organs. leading to muscle weakness. With a prevalence of one in 40. chlorine.* The treatment can cost up to $300.Tapped Out?: Are Chlorine's Beneficial Effects in Drinking Water Offset by Its Links to Cancer? Although chlorine is widely used as an effective way to disinfect drinking water. but only recently have researchers found a link between common chlorine disinfectant and breast cancer. once in water.‖ says Vanessa Lausch of filter manufacturer Aquasana. researchers are concerned that it can lead to bladder. and possible death. comes from public municipal water sources that are often treated with. Inspired by biotechnology executive John Crowley's efforts to save his children.S. theories abound.‖ The gas would severely burn the lungs and other body tissues when inhaled. Reportedly chlorine. ―Chlorine. The link between chlorine and bladder and rectal cancers has long been known. is also a known poison to the body. you guessed it. organ damage including the brain. The manufacturer claims that a quick shake of the stuff removes 100 percent of the chlorine (and its odor) from a glass a tap water. which looks like sugar but actually is composed of tasteless antioxidants and plant extracts. Tap-based filters from the likes of Paragon. But this inexpensive and highly effective disinfectant has a dark side. interacts with organic compounds to create trihalomethanes (THMs)—which when ingested encourage the growth of free radicals that can destroy or damage vital cells in the body. But that just gets rid of the smell. Another option is a product called WaterYouWant. Connecticut found that women with breast cancer have 50-60 percent higher levels of organochlorines (chlorine by-products) in their breast tissue than cancer-free women. head of the Pediatric Storage Disorders Laboratory at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry. explains why Pompe disease is so rare. unless one were to then let the water sit overnight before consuming it. Why is it so rare? . The defect results in a build-up of glycogenin the lysosome. and are relatively inexpensive to boot. perhaps. Then the lysosome doesn't work and things build up in cells that shouldn't be there. but it doesn't. Conn. Subsequent research at Genzyme in collaboration with scientists from Duke University led to the approval by the U. Unfortunately these types of diseases are progressive and fatal. rectal and breast cancers. an easier way to get rid of chlorine from your tap water is by installing a carbon-based filter. But don't think that buying bottled water is any solution. Lausch adds that researchers have now linked chlorine in drinking water to higher incidences of bladder. Jonathan Cooper.] What is Pompe disease? Pompe disease is one of many lysosomal storage diseases. Seagull and others remove most if not all of the chlorine in tap water.000. Letting the tap run for awhile is not likely to remove any sizable portion of chlorine. Pompe disease results from a recessively inherited deficiency in the gene encoding acid alpha-glucosidase (GAA). (The infantile variant of the disease is fatal without treatment. ―Because so much of the water we drink ends up in the bladder and/or rectum. usually within two years). and is no less powerful when ingested by mouth. which affects one out of every eight American women. has followed the lead of many European and Canadian cities in switching over to harmless ozone instead of chlorine to disinfect its municipal water supply. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 of Myozyme under the Orphan Drug Act. hard (and expensive) to treat. so is the funding for research to treat and cure it. not the chlorine? —Anita Frigo. Crowley teamed up with glycobiologist William Canfield. added as an inexpensive and effective drinking water disinfectant. Milford. Ask the Experts: What Is Pompe Disease? When a disease is rare. Some swear by the method of letting their water sit for 24 hours so that the chlorine in the glass or pitcher will off-gas. A recent study conducted in Hartford. which allows Genzyme to sell the drug without competition for seven years. That's the worst part of the diagnosis for these children. We have no drugs to treat them with. Las Vegas. the movie Extraordinary Measures shows basic science and biotechnology teaming up to help researchers develop a treatment for a rare and fatal neuromuscular disorder. founder of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (now part of Genzyme Corporation). A few cities have switched over to other means of disinfecting their water supplies. for example.

If a company has intellectual property on the genetic defect. sometimes they'll collaborate with the company. They're quite effective but only have effects within the body. then that person can be useful to a drug company. and create small gravitational vortices out of thin air using nothing more than thoughts? The short answer: no. Video Game Expands the Concept of Dark Energy for Mass Effect Mass Effect 2. lets players battle enemies by channeling something akin to the unknown force that causes the universe to continue expanding. he (or she) is able to generate and control dark energy to move objects. like Genzyme does. much more to know about the Mass Effect games (enough to populate several wikis. they have the sole rights for working on that gene from a scientific standpoint. Somewhere back in the mists of time there will have been a mutation. There is a 50 percent chance that the child will be a carrier. "I like to think of what's being used in the game as some force out there that resembles dark energy. Why is the treatment for Pompe disease so expensive? Enzyme-replacement drugs are expensive to make and they need to be given frequently." Hudson says. but they're intrigued by the concept. Neither Davis nor Carroll has played Mass Effect. and each time they decide to have a child there is a 25 percent chance of the child having the disease. "What if we could understand how dark energy worked and manipulate it the way we've manipulated electromagnetism to create electronic devices like cell phones and computers?" Hudson likens the way that Mass Effect biotics summon dark energy to the way electric eels can sense and manipulate electricity in their environment. unless that person exists in the intricate cyber universe created by the makers of the video games Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. the new sequel of the popular video game. If a biotic's natural abilities are cultivated properly. says California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll. "I sort of like the idea of having people who could sense [dark energy] and manipulate it. "one of the reasons we're studying it is to find some way to manipulate it. project director for Mass Effect 2. Can cheaper therapies be developed? This is where the issue of intellectual property comes in. Sometimes the scientist will work for the company. It is passed on from generation to generation. Drug trials require a preclinical development phase using animal models. We do think it would change slightly in the presence of matter. dark energy is everywhere. Getting pharmaceutical companies interested in funding research is hard because of the limited profits. and basic scientists are very useful for this." says astrophysicist Tamara Davis. two parents will be carriers. Are there alternatives that could be pursued once the intellectual property expires? You could use gene therapy to transfer the deficient genes into the cells and get them to make the enzyme for you. Parkinson's researchers—so. unsurprisingly. In fact. Why does it take so long to find treatments? You first have to figure out what the genetic defect is—a long process. "To the best of our knowledge. a research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia and an associate of the Dark Cosmology Center in Denmark. but he says that he and his staff soaked up the available research on dark energy. Could a person harness the power of dark energy—the mysterious and pervasive force suspected of speeding the universe's expansion—to block bullets. but it's not powerful enough to do the things described in the game. you need to have two mutant copies of the gene. they have exclusive rights to work on finding ways to make and deliver drugs to treat it. the grant funding authority often opts for where they'll get the most for their money." Still. it's unlikely that dark energy as portrayed in the game has anything to do with "real" dark energy. Until the intellectual property expires. In the Mass Effect games. What makes dark energy a promising component of a fantasy video game is that although scientists are learning more about it. That is. generate protective barriers or restrain enemies. Hudson didn't formally consult any scientists during the making of the game. It's also harder to get funding for that sort of rare disease research. Got all that? There's much. hurl adversaries around like rag dolls. he asks.To get the effects of the disease. "There's a small amount of dark energy in every cubic centimeter of the universe." he says. . "there's still so much more that we don't know. How do scientists and drug companies work together? If you have a basic scientist working on a particular disease who has some insight into the disease mechanism." It was very important for BioWare to incorporate science into the Mass Effect trilogy (a third game is in development) and do so in a way "that didn't offend people who know about science. But you need finances to be able to do that type of research. Taking this thought a step further. If you have a disease which affects the brain. but what of its fascination with a relatively new scientific concept as purely theoretical as dark energy? Incorporating the concept of dark energy into a video game is "not completely implausible. Then. she adds." Davis says. blogs and online communities)." which causes them to develop nodules throughout their nervous systems that enhance the body's natural electrical impulses. you have considerably more problems because you have to get [the drugs] into the brain. humans (excuse me. Every time you enter a grant competition you're competing with everybody else—Alzheimer's researchers. the latter of which drops on January 26. but we don't know how. What if people can't afford the treatment? There are a variety of philanthropic goodwill programs that are giving a discounted rate on the drugs or actually giving them away." One of the roles of video games and science fiction is to stretch what we know by using our imagination. that is certain humans known as "biotics") have the ability to channel dark energy if they can survive in utero exposure to a substance known as "element zero." says Casey Hudson.

"Someone might hear that term as part of a game and then hear it again in a more scientific context. Short-term exposures to NO2. hold the highest level of math anxiety compared to students majoring in other subjects. according to EPA. a limit that has been in place for nearly four decades. remain rare. Researchers found that the girls who got the idea that math ability falls along gender lines had the worst achievementin this subject during the school year. the U." EPA expects to identify areas in compliance with the standard based on the existing monitoring network by January 2012." The new standard also establishes newmonitoring requirements to measure NO2 levels near major roads. of whom 90 percent are female. a limit that has been in place for nearly four decades. Levine‘s group gave 65 female and 52 male first. based its study on two key pieces of information." Carroll says.000 residents must have monitors near roadways. and learn that math is not nice One of the first lessons that girls often learn in elementary school is that boys are better at math. The research team. Levine‘s team also asked the students to draw pictures of a student who did well in math or reading and explain if that student was a boy or girl. and had narrowed it down to two houses: One built 25 years ago of standard materials." said Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell. which urged EPA to forgo a one-hour standard. "This new one-hour standard is designed to protect the air we breathe and reduce health threats for millions of Americans. first.S. NO2 forms from the emissions of cars. the researchers found that the girls. New monitors must begin operating by Jan. whose achievement did lag were also the students who acquired math gender biases during the school year. The teachers were asked to complete a math exam." Little girls are made of sugar and spice. expressed concerns that the short-term NO2 limit is based on a faulty scientific record. 2013. In the gender belief test. Environmental Program's top energy ranking. we are working to prevent short-term exposures in high-risk NO2 zones like urban communities and areas near roadways. which occur primarily near major roads. "For the first time ever. EPA's final rule falls within recommendations by EPA's scientific advisers but does not go far enough for some environmentalists and public health advocates. College students majoring in early elementary education in the U. the other brand new and built to strict energy efficiency standards. who are predominately female and math-averse." the authors wrote. "More care needs to be taken to develop both strong math skills and positive math attitudes in these educators." wrote the authors. and that might help them ultimately gain a better understanding of what it is. trucks and buses. "It suggests EPA may also do the bare minimum on other pending standards." said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. homes are damp. Cities with at least 500. . EAST LANSING. but not the boys. EPA's staff scientists recommended a one-hour maximum standard between 50 and 200 ppb. communicate that math is not their strong suit to some female students. The final rule introduces a new one-hour maximum standard for NO2 at 100 parts per billion (ppb).S. At the end of the school year.S. EPA has reviewed the health-based NO2 standards twice since the standard was first proposed in 1971 but both times chose not to revise the standards. including ozone. The Clean Air Act requires the agency to set national standards for six "criteria" pollutants. The agency is also retaining the existing annual standard of 53 ppb. Although there was no difference among the girls‘ and boys‘ math improvement. 1. EPA Tightens NO2 Smog Standard The U. all of whom were female.. the researchers also graded the students‘ teachers. U.and second-grade teachers. To examine the impact of teachers‘ math anxiety on students‘ math achievement. Levine‘s group also evaluated the teachers‘ math anxiety by asking them to rate how anxiousthey would feel in various situations. In these sessions. "We speculate that having a highly math-anxious female teacher pushes girls to confirm the stereotype that they are not as good as boys at math.S. the researchers suggest that elementary teachers be required to take more than the minimal college math courses. these girls drew a boy doing well at math and a girl at reading. such as reading a cash register receipt or studying for a math exam."It's a fun idea. Moreover.not health -. The agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) recommended setting one-hour limits at or below 100 ppb. There's a tremendous untapped potential in games for incorporating cool science. Although this incorrect lesson is certainly not part of the curriculum.Krista and Micah Fuerst were looking near here to buy their first place together. And elementary students emulate the behavior of same-gender adults more than opposite-gender adults. EPA today strengthened the federal public health standard for nitrogen dioxide(NO2) pollution. The couple's choice was easy: They picked the Energy Star home. "EPA is over-regulating this air quality standard for political -. drafty and expensive to heat and cool. off-highway equipment and power plants. with strong support for a level at or below 100 ppb. according to a study published January 25 inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The revision marks the first time EPA has updated the national health-based NO2 standard in nearly four decades. in turn affects girls‘ math achievement. especially in people with asthma. siblings and peers. although more common. and to periodically review those standards. and some 99 percent of U. . Buying Your First (Energy-Efficient) Home Energy-efficient homes. Cities with at least 1 million residents will continue with communitywide monitoring. Mich." The American Petroleum Institute. adding that introducing gamers to even the concept of dark energy is a step in the right direction. led by Susan Levine. these changes in gender beliefs were found to correlate with the teacher‘s degree of math anxiety (but not her math ability). Levine‘s team points out that these young children are also learning gender-based attitudes from parents." API said in a statement. a psychologist at the University of Chicago.reasons. Environmental Protection Agency today strengthened the federal public health standard for nitrogen dioxide pollution.or second-graders in five public schools in one Midwestern school district an arithmetic-based tests at the beginning and end of the school year. which. "This standard is a step forward for public health protection. have been linked to impaired lung function and increased respiratory infections. and larger cities and areas with major roads will have additional monitors. a level that EPA says will protect millions of Americans from peak short-term exposures. but it is also a missed opportunity to do something better for the breathing public.S. But because teachers are probably confirming or strengthening sexist ideas about mathematical ability. "There is no significant evidence that the short-term NO2 standard established today by the Administrator is necessary to protect public health. The agency intends to redesignate whether areas meet the new standard when three years of data are available from the new monitoring network. But groups including Clean Air Watch and the American Lung Association called for EPA to set a one-hour daily maximum standard of 50 ppb or lower to protect vulnerable groups. including NO2.

For example. About 17 percent of new homes built in 2008 earned the Energy Star label. is a bit farther from conveniences and their jobs ." Majersik said." he said.marks a five-point increase from 2007 and "indicates such incredible success. but didn't know the label also applied to homes. noisy and expensive to heat and cool . advocates say. high-performance windows and other features that make the homes exceptionally comfortable also make them a bit pricier." Rashkin said." saidSam Rashkin. Majersik and others. "Energy-efficient mortgages have been available now for 20 years or so. drafty. it gets much more difficult and costly to improve energy efficiency." she said. buildings program director for theAmerican Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy." Their home. but lenders have grown accustomed to ignoring them. energy-efficient mortgages weren't very enticing. "Code is not Energy Star. but can opt out if they deem the standards inappropriate . while a patchwork of inconsistent and ill-enforced energy codes provides conflicting signals to industry. several have no mandatory code." Khan said. "and then you've got codes. It has made considerable strides since its 1995 inception. Energy Star is meant to reflect the cream of the housing stock. for instance. Home energy use accounts for 16 percent of the United States' greenhouse gas emissions.which is expected to reach 20 percent when 2009's figures are tallied . That's where Energy Star comes in. dusty. experts say. experts agree. a coalition that helps state and local governments implement efficiency requirements.000 energy-efficient mortgages over three years." said Jean Boulin. Instead. and thus.and "could be made at least 30 percent more energy-efficient with highly cost-effective. but it's also a lost opportunity. "The challenge is that there are processes that have been in place for a long time. "It's an incredibly smart choice. a handful of specialized mortgage options have for decades given buyers more cash up front. a childcare director. "Energy codes have existed for a long time. but they're a really underutilized tool.S. the Fuersts were aware of Energy Star-rated appliances." according to Rashkin. Department of Energy." said Jennifer Amann. which is usually updated every three years." she said. she said. the Federal Housing Administration would be required to insure at least 50." To get buyers over that hump. thereby bypassing an easy target for considerable cuts in national carbon emissions. will always represent a minority of American homes. executive director of the Building Codes Assistance Project. efficient homes. but it's enough to scare off many potential buyers. which the EPA says indicates a savings of $1. So that's a market failure. tried-and-true energy-efficiency improvements. according to Cliff Majersik.Micah Fuerst is an insurance actuary . Meanwhile consumers remain largely unaware of efficiency's advantages. Before the mortgage crisis." The House climate bill includes a handful of provisions that would reward buyers of efficient homes. when loans were easier to come by and energy was relatively cheap. "We're certainly conscious of the environment. that we're not giving homeowners credit for buying good. Both in their late twenties. since they'll save on energy costs. We're not extreme green. program manager in the U. But nobody's buying. The added cost for a new Energy Star home may only be about the price of a night at the movies on each month's mortgage payment.But they're in the minority. Retrofitting older houses can drastically cut their energy use. The Energy Star program won't solve this. Of course. dragging up the bottom. Once a home is built. the ultra-efficient heating and cooling systems." she explained.not just specialized ones . have declined to follow the code. some 99 percent of American houses are "sick" . States are legally bound to review and consider adopting the IECC. "But consumers are overwhelmed by first cost. "There is no ability for any agency to penalize states if they don't follow the law. but they haven't really done anything." Sam Rashkin agrees. but others adhere to years-old versions.account for energy use. program officers say. And with so many homes being built to such various requirements. but they mostly just wanted a place big enough to raise the family they're planning. "It's really unfortunate. Advocates also say national efficiency efforts have been let down by the codes that set minimum requirements for efficiency. since smaller utility bills more than offset the higher price. which advocates for energy efficiency: Make all mortgages . which wouldn't stand out in any new subdivision. said Krista Fuerst. Certification programs like Energy Star "pull the market" by spearheading efficiency efforts. executive director of the Institute for Market fact. enforcement is tricky. Energy Department's building energy codes program. Experts say economics and regulations are the root of the problem: Mortgages are structured in ways that fail to recognize efficiency's benefits. "but we're not hyper-conscious. Code is common sense. "We need a massive education of how to use energy-efficient mortgages." said Aleisha Khan. Officials in Alabama. Now the specialized options are more valuable. The number of certified homes recently reached one million.S. While energy-efficient mortgages are a good idea. The proportion . states base their own requirements on the International Energy Conservation Code. and lenders didn't bother with them. . Some states consistently follow the latest iteration of the IECC.2 billion in energy bills and 22 billion pounds of greenhouse gases kept out of the atmosphere. "It's a mess. and there's pretty clear evidence that they've let us down. "The fact is that energy-efficient homes have much lower foreclosure and delinquency rates. and a few "have done virtually nothing at all. In this sense the Fuersts are typical of many homebuyers. and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would make the kind of wholesale changes to underwriting guidelines sought by Rashkin. Run jointly by the EPA and the U. the program uses third-party inspectors to ensure that qualifying homes are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than typical houses. Their house'senvironmental bona fides were icing on the cake.than some others they considered. despite the EPA's gains. But they decided that was a reasonable tradeoff for smaller energy bills and freedom from costly renovations. national director of the program's section for homes. now that they can offer a meaningful solution.damp. citing their status as a home rule state. there's a more obvious solution." Yet there is no nationwide building code.

hydrology and climate. "We have to change the mentality of some people who say. soon after human colonization. ―This is the first empirical study to seek out children with optimal outcomes and systematically test them in a variety of functioning domains. and say they'll try to find another Energy Star home if they ever move. the question of whether children can outgrow autism remains difficult to answer. "Our results eliminate a strong argument against the blitzkrieg hypothesis but do not prove it. Australia. "Consumers really. "it would be very difficult to go back. really need more information about efficient homes. who has worked extensively in Australian archaeology — including on the Cuddie Springs site. caused the mass extinction of Australia's giant animals. the team reports in a paper in press withQuaternary Science Reviews3. "We're finding these are terribly cost-effective things to do. altering the continent's vegetation. has used electron spin resonance (ESR) and uranium-series techniques to date the megafauna teeth directly. They said the site had been disturbed. Dating discrepancy Now a team led by Rainer Grün. New Study Suggests Autism Can be „Outgrown‟ There is more evidence that a minority of autistic children may eventually overcome their developmental issues. "I'm confident that we're moving forward quite well." says Grün. For example. but demand won't grow until more people understand the benefits of efficiency.000 years ago 2. through charcoal and sand grains in the layers bearing the fossils and stone tools. And. but the couple . published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and led by Deborah Fein of the University of Connecticut. some much older.has a newfound interest. of the University of Adelaide. Some have proposed that the ancestors of Australian Aborigines. with megafauna fossils from older deposits working their way into younger deposits. including the gigantic kangaroo. which peaked about 21. to see if they are truly indistinguishable from typically developing children. "That's where I'd focus most of my energy. not climate change. It is the only site with megafauna remains and Aboriginal artefacts in the same sedimentary layers. who reached the continent between 60. such as huge kangaroos." he said. 200-kilogram flightless bird Genyornis to about 50.000 and 30. The bill calls for a 30 percent increase in efficiency over the 2006 IECC upon enactment. an ecologist at James Cook University in Townsville. But they do not discriminate between the two possible mechanisms of the catastrophe — rapid 'blitzkrieg' and slow burn — because the date of colonization and the date of extinction are not known with sufficient precision. Those layers had been dated by radiocarbon and luminescence methods to between about 40.much lower than would have been comfortable in their rental . on the bird's eggshell." he says. but it can't be eliminated as a significant consideration. 'We have energy-efficient homes. seemingly clearing people of being the main agents of the extinction of the animals. O'Connell.along with their friends and family . ―I view it as really a landmark kind of study that validates an observation that clinicians and families have made for many years. and biologist Barry Brook. which dated the megafauna only indirectly. late in the Pleistocene epoch. Richard Roberts. reptiles and birds across the continent to about 46. they say. The findings weaken arguments for climate change as the main cause of the demise of the megafauna. agrees. says there might have been a long period of overlap between megafauna and people. "The house is heated very evenly.000 years old. Scientists have long argued over what killed off about 50 species of animals weighing more than 45 kilograms. one site. a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong. Studies to date that have hinted at this possibility were plagued with lingering questions about whether the children who apparently shed their autism were properly diagnosed with the developmental disorder in the first place.000 years ago. which stretched from 2. Australia. Increased aridity during the last Ice Age might have reinforced this effect. Khan and Boulin said there are other signs that more effective codes and more efficient homes are on the way. to make sure they were studying severe cases. and at a time when the climate was benign1. Khan said the 2009 IECC is 15 to 20 percent stricter than the previous version -the biggest change so far.000 years ago.‖ .and turn it down to 57 when they leave in the morning. chief science officer for Autism Speaks and a long time researcher in the field. One study dated the extinction of the 2-metre-tall. Archaeologist James O'Connell of the University of Utah says the jury is still out.A measure in the climate bill would change that by establishing a nationwide code. The results debunk claims of the late survival of the giant animals and a long period of coexistence between them and people." They set the thermostat at 67 degrees . "Climate may not be the only factor. an energy efficiency expert at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the California Institute for Energy and the Environment.000 years ago. The OO group was also compared to 34 similarly matched. a 50 percent jump by 2014 and a 75 percent increase by 2029. Temporal overlap? Evidence for a human cause has been mounting over the past decade. Cuddie Springs in New South Wales. who still had symptoms." she said." Early humans wiped out Australia's giants Humans.000 and 40. Homebuilders say they'll build more efficient homes when buyers ask for them. The authors compared these ―optimal outcome‖ (OO) participants to 44 people of the same age. typically developing people. but experts caution that such recovery is rare.6 million until about 12. and the two-tonne wombat-like marsupial Diprotodon. The initial diagnosis had to be made in writing by a doctor or psychologist specializing in autism before the child turned five. ―There have been no other studies of this kind in the past. says the direct dates from Cuddie Springs mean the site now "falls in line with a mass of other evidence" for the rapid extinction of the Australian megafauna between 50.000 years ago.Procoptodon. the bones could not be dated directly by the radiocarbon method. and people shouldn't avoid them." Khan said.000 and 45. But some researchers doubted the results. regardless of which Cuddie Springs dates are correct. Lacking the protein collagen. Boulin and a number of other experts said. But while a recent study found that behavioral intervention programs are linked with normalization of some brainactivity. but Australian megafauna were well adapted to dry conditions because they had survived repeated droughts in the past. The new research." Krista Fuerst explained.000 years old. professor of psychiatry at the University of California Davis Medical Center and author of an editorial that accompanied the study. "They just aren't getting it.000 years ago. even after 12-hour days. has been held up as evidence for a long overlap between humans and megafauna. was later backed up by a coast-to-coast project dating the extinction of giant marsupials. Their laboratory is the only one in Australia — and one of only a few worldwide — using ESR in this way. say in a commentary4 in Science that "human impact was likely the decisive factor". Chris Johnson. Australia. so why aren't people knocking down the doors?'" The Fuersts may not have given efficiency much thought before they bought their house." Edward Vine. tens of thousands of years ago. "There are no cold spots and no drafts. involved 34 people ages 8 to 21 who had been diagnosed with autism but no longer met criteria for the condition. So far their heating bills have been just over half what they paid last winter.‖ says Sally Ozonoff. rapidly hunted the animals to extinction. "Now that we have lived in an energy-efficient house. Others have argued for environmental disruption from human-lit fires — a 'slow burn' to extinction as people set the bush alight to clear pathways or flush out prey.‖ says Geraldine Dawson. All of the specimens of extinct species are at least 50." But further progress depends on knowledgeable consumers. However. researchers included only children who had not spoken before 18 months or did not use phrases before age 2. a geochronologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. gender and IQ with high functioning autism or Asperger‘s Syndrome. possibly through hunting of young megafauna. It‘s long been the hope of parents of autistic children that the right care and support can reduce or even reverse some of the developmental problems associated with the condition. That work." Boulin said. but the temperature never drops that low. In the climate change camp are scholars who blame the most recent Ice Age.

many autistic people are extremely sensitive to physical touch. could result from being bullied and from becoming more acutely aware of the pain of social isolation. ―She‘s incredibly productive and brilliant. it‘s also important not to give false hope or add to the guilt felt by some parents over their children‘s prognosis.‖ Fein says. ―I think that the bottom line is.‖ Fein says. which may have included inaccurate diagnoses. including factors such as their ability to attend regular classes without one-on-one assistance in school. Inside. the researchers stress. Grandin did not speak until age four. autism isn‘t just outward behavior—it is also internal processing and self management. that having a higher IQ was associated with optimal outcomes. most of which used behavioral techniques to reward social and communicative behavior. rather than anything to do with the quality of life or lived experience of autistic adults. ―I think we will have to see. These were then reviewed by several experts who had to be in agreement about whether the participants no longer met criteria for the disorder. All of the children in the study had received treatment. ―We‘re [now] looking at what residual problems they [may be] vulnerable to. Attempting to suppress Grandin‘s interest in animal perception. whether these children are not doing as well as they could have. Fein is conducting a follow up study to pinpoint which interventions are likely to lead to these improved outcomes. through further study of this group. Participants could. many autistic people have obsessive interests that allow them to focus more intensely — and this type of concentration may be what distinguishes a great computer programmer or musician from a merely good one. . In addition. ―We don‘t think the idea that people ‗outgrow‘ autism—or can be made through treatment to become non-autistic— is accurate.‖ Autism advocates have other serious concerns about the research. What comes easily to someone who‘s not autistic might take herculean but unseen effort for an autistic person. ―We have to live with that uncertainty and give the best interventions and parenting that we can and applaud all the gains a child makes.‖ the authors write. if they had let flourish certain characteristics that are common in autism. We do not want to suggest that any other outcome is tragic and hopeless. concerns about happiness and ability to cope are more important than questions about whether someone does or does not retain a diagnostic label.‖ or acting non-autistic in order to fit in.‖ says Fein. ―Who could have a better outcome than Temple Grandin?‖ she says. a biologist. no longer requiring social skills training classes. but still quite autistic. Fein agrees that the optimal outcome for autistic children isn‘t necessarily shedding their condition. or may be connected with the condition. questioning whether the OO group genuinely has better outcomes in all areas. For example. loud sounds and bright lights: regulating their emotional reactions to these experiences in an ordinary day without relying on their familiar and soothing routines such as retreating into silence or engaging in repetitive behaviors can be exhausting. Indeed.How did the scientists ensure that the participants no longer had measurable signs of autism? They tested the volunteers on various scales commonly used to diagnose the condition and videotaped the interviews. ―For parents with young children with autism. Ozonoff worries that attempts to totally eliminate autistic behavior might also reduce autistic skills and talents. for instance. president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. ―It sends a message that the only important objective [of] treatment is looking and acting normal. but her parents refused medical recommendations to institutionalize her.‖ Ultimately. ―Most of us in the field certainly agree that the most important outcome is happiness. functionality.‖ The study also found. they may be experiencing the same urges to engage in repetitive behavior and endlessly talk about their obsessions. ADHD and autism often occur together. ―It is possible that above average cognition allowed individuals with ASD to compensate. Depression.‖ The researchers also caution that most autistic people will continue to have symptoms: earlier studies. the take-home message is that there is a really wide range of outcomes from very severe disability to pretty much indistinguishable from typical [development]. providing intensive care at home instead.‖ says Ozonoff. ―This is generally a lifelong disability. and high quality of life.‖ says Fein. but they have learned to channel their intense drives into repressing this and behaving the way normal people expect. ―I‘ve seen thousands of children who had the best possible interventions continue to have significant intellectual disability and severe language deficits and we don‘t know how to remediate those things. Instead. however. ―We do not mean to imply that OO (or recovery) is the only outcome worth working toward. which means that the results do not apply to autistic children who also have intellectual disability. he says study participants are likely ―passing. which could occur independently of autism. have suggested that only about 3% to 25% children who receive a diagnosis will eventually lose it.‖ Ozonoff says. There are many very special qualities and ways of being that autism can bring to individuals and to all of us in general. not surprisingly. for example. might have prevented her from developing the humane slaughterhouse designs for which she is known. be in limited special education classes or have academic or psychological problems such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression. ―We‘re really talking about kids who started off with very significant disabilities and likely would not have had good outcomes by any definition without intervention.‖ he says. Forbes blogger and mother of an autistic child. they were required to have an IQ over 77. But while the research suggests that some children do extremely well.‖ says Fein. Says Emily Willingham.‖ For instance. ―The idea of ‗recovery‘ is a deeply damaging one.‖ says Ari Ne‘eman.―We weren‘t ruling out all other conditions. and having at least one typically developing friend. citing the Colorado State professor and author who has written and spoken widely about her autism and was the subject of an HBO film.

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