Frigid terrain on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, where researchers recently documented microplastic pollution in falling snow. (Credit: Sejsejlija/Shutterstock)When it snows in the Arctic, there's another kind of flake drifting down
Scientists have discovered a new pain organ in the skin. The cells form a network that senses painful stimuli such as pricks and impact. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say the organ is sensitive to hazardous environmental irritation.
'Scientists have discovered a new pain organ in the skin. The cells form a network that senses painful stimuli such as pricks and impact. Alamy The new pain organ is separate to nerve endings which also detect pain[/caption] Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say the organ is sensitive to hazardous environmental irritation. It is made up of glia cells with multiple long protrusions, which collectively make up a mesh-like organ within the skin. The study’s chief investigator, Professor Patrik Ernfors, said: “Our study shows that sensitivity to pain does not occur only in the skin’s nerve fibres, but also in this recently discovered pain-sensitive organ. “The discovery changes our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of physical sensation and it may be of significance in the understanding of chronic pain.” Published in the journal Science, the study describes the new pain-sensitive organ, and explains how it is organised together with pain-sensitive nerves in the skin. Researchers say activation of the organ results in electrical impulses in the nervous system that result in reflex reactions and an experience of pain. The organ is made up of cells that are highly sensitive to mechanical stimuli, which explain how they can participate in the detection of painful pinpricks and pressure. \t \t\t \t\t \t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t MOST READ IN HEALTH NEWS \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tSPLAT'S DISGUSTING\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tStomach-churning moment massive cyst explodes in doctor's face\t\t\t \t\t\t \t \t \t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tBAG FOR LIFE\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tMum thought she'd 'given birth to an alien' after son was born in amniotic sac\t\t\t \t\t\t \t \t \t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tMISSED SIGNS\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tOAP dies after 'docs dismissed cancerous lump and gave him painkillers'\t\t\t \t\t\t \t \t \t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tOUT YOUR MEW-SERY\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tHope for millions as scientists discover 'cure' for cat allergy\t\t\t \t\t\t \t \t \t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tBRAVE FACE\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tWoman whose 'itchy skin' was cancer shares 10 tips on how to smile through chemo\t\t\t \t\t\t \t \t \t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tBRAIN DISEASE\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\tWhat is holoprosencephaly and what are symptoms of the brain defect?\t\t\t \t\t\t \t \t \t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t \t \t \t \t In experiments, the researchers also blocked the organ and saw a resultant decreased ability to feel mechanical pain. Researchers say pain causes suffering and results in substantial costs for society, but that sensitivity to pain is also required for survival and has a protective function. It prompts reflex reactions that prevent damage to tissue, such as pulling your hand away when you feel a jab from a sharp object or when you burn yourself. \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org'
The most common problem item for the Bluewater Recycling Association is beverage or coffee cups.
'Ontario’s Blue Box program is under pressure to make changes. The President of the Bluewater Recycling Association says at one time China accounted for sixty per cent of the market for recyclable material, and they would accept just about anything. But Francis Veilleux says North American recycling companies now have to sell to their material locally and the quality of the material has to be better. Another problem is some of the items people put in their blue box. “Currently about 90 per cent of everything we collect here we’re able to separate and market as a separate commodity. That last ten per cent is things that either we never wanted in the first place, like bowling balls or diapers or things that we just couldn’t physically separate.” The most common problem item for the Bluewater Recycling Association is beverage cups, like a coffee cup. “It’s a multi-layered product. It’s a paper cup wrapped in plastic is really what it is. And so if it’s mixed in with any of our paper that we shipped anywhere else, it’s deemed a contaminant.” Then they runs of the risk of loads of paper or cardboard being rejected. The fact that coffee cups are accepted in places like London or Toronto just adds to the confusion. Veilleux adds they do accept plastic shopping bags, but preferably when they’re all together in one bag. If they’re scattered individually throughout a blue box it adds to the time it takes to separate them from the rest of the materials in the blue box. There is a list of acceptable materials on the Bluewater Recycling Association web site.'
'US comedian Stephen Colbert has called out straight men, who – according to Penn State research – don’t recycle because they are scared it makes them “look gay”. In a segment called ‘Hey Straight Guys: Recycling Does Not Make You Look Gay’ on CBS’s The Late Show , Colbert said, “Here’s a story that may count as lighter news. “The Earth may be boiling and broiling to a crisp, but according to a new study, men don’t recycle to avoid looking gay. “Really, men?Is there no limit to straight male fragility? “Who said gay people suddenly have a reputation for being environmentally-conscious?Have you seen the aftermath of a Gay Pride parade? “This isn’t just toxic masculinity, this is literally toxic.And as a ruggedly heterosexual male, I feel responsibility to convince my fellow hairy-chested man men, that caring for the earth is butch as hell.” Study found harmful gender roles perpetuated in views on recycling.The study, published in August 2019 in the journal Sex Roles , found that straight men will avoid reusable plastic bags and other environmentally friendly efforts because of harmful gender stereotypes.Researchers found that certain attempts to be more environmentally conscious are often perceived as either masculine or feminine.Using a reusable shopping bag was labelled a “feminine” act by participants in the study, with both men and women found to be more likely to question a man’s sexuality if he shopped with a bag for life.Colbert made fun of these stereotypes in his segment on The Late Show . “Dad, Dad, were you around during the early 21st century?” he said. “What did you to combat the preventable destruction of the planet?” “I liked girls, that’s what I did,” he responded. “I liked them a lot.” “Wait,” Colbert added, “now straight men think the way they bag their groceries indicates their sexual orientation?” Stephen Colbert has form in mocking straight people.Colbert has also previously supported the LGBT+ community by mocking straight people . In 2018, after the Supreme Court controversially ruled that a Christian baker could legally refuse to make a cake for a same-sex couple, Colbert proposed opening the Straight Cakes Bakery on The Late Show – calling it an “all-hetero cakeshop”. The imagined baker at the Straight Cakes Bakery said, “Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling there’s never been a better time to jump into the hetero pastry industry, which is why I opened Straight Cakes, where we guarantee all our cakes are straight like the Bible intended. “How do you know our cakes our straight?Because every single cake features a guy doing it to a lady. “Anniversary cake?Guy doing it to a lady.Graduation cake?Guy doing it to a lady.Grandma’s birthday?Old guy doing it to an old lady. “We also have cupcakes with little guys doing it to little ladies. “So come on down to Straight Cakes, where our motto is, no cake leaves the shop unless I’m aroused by it.” . The post Stephen Colbert perfectly drags straight men who think recycling is ‘gay’ appeared first on PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service .'
'She’s not someone you easily imagine in wellies': The challenges faced by Theresa Villiers, Defra's new chief
Country Life's columnist Agronomes chips in on the problems that await Theresa Villiers, the new Secretary of State in charge of the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs. Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers at 10 Downing
'Country Life's columnist Agronomes chips in on the problems that await Theresa Villiers, the new Secretary of State in charge of the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs. Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers at 10 Downing Street after her appointment last month. The new Cabinet will bring joy to the hearts of Boris Johnson’s hard-core party members. It makes no pretence at building bridges or of reflecting the broad church that has long been the fundamental nature of Britain’s two major political parties. Our new Prime Minister has hastened to lay to rest the contention that he would seek consensus and build a coalition to get a deal with the EU. Instead, he has appointed an administration dominated by dogmatists. With dissentient voices excluded from the Cabinet table and the political closed season in most of the Continent, we can expect little action in August, but plenty of rhetoric about preparations for leaving. The problem is that neither Government nor Opposition is overburdened with talent and Mr Johnson has taken a risk in consigning to the backbenches some of those few who are likely to inspire confidence outside his own core support. By his exclusion — or their own preventative resignation — the Government has lost some real stars, such as Rory Stewart and Claire Perry and some very competent performers, including Damian Hinds, Greg Clark and Penny Mordaunt and, in particular, the man who was most trusted by financial markets, the solid figure of Philip Hammond. The fact that most of these names are not well known only underscores the degree to which politics has ceased to hold the public’s interest. What of the new minister who will have most effect on the countryside? Michael Gove’s successful tenure at Defra ends with the appointment of Theresa Villiers. Which Cabinet Minister has the most consistently Eurosceptic record? Andrea Leadsom? Dom Raab? Here’s a name I bet you won’t have picked. https://t.co/beU7RZF535 — Daniel Hannan (@DanielJHannan) August 11, 2019 She sits for a suburban seat and has a reputation for assiduity. We can expect someone who really masters her brief and has the intellectual capability to do so — she will need those abilities, as Mr Gove has so moved the agenda along that she inherits a full programme and some big promises of action. Personally, Miss Villiers has shown herself a strong supporter of the environment. As Transport Minister, she backed low-carbon travel alternatives and supported projects to encourage Green living. She has been powerfully opposed to all expansion of airports in the south of England. She clearly recognises the seriousness of climate change, but has not yet spoken of the role of farmers in mitigation. Indeed, there is very little in her political history that points to an interest in agriculture and she will need to work hard to convince farmers that she’ll fight for them when production aids cease if we leave the EU. She may now regret that, in her former role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, she did not commend herself effectively to the farming community in what is largely an agricultural province. She’s not someone you easily imagine in wellies. We asked you which issues you would like the new @DefraGovUK secretary Theresa Villiers to put at the top of her in-tray. https://t.co/44Ek4sm8SJ — Farmers Weekly (@FarmersWeekly) August 5, 2019 She’ll also have to fight off a serious Treasury threat to the £3.5 billion currently spent in farming support. Mr Johnson’s spending promises must be paid for and this is a tempting source from which to divert cash. What’s more, almost immediately on return from the Parliamentary break, Miss Villiers will have to steer both an Agriculture Bill and an Environment Bill through the Commons. Both could become set-piece battlegrounds between conservationists and conventional farmers. In that debate, Miss Villiers has already got form as a campaigner for stricter animal welfare, as an opponent of the live export of animals and for having switched sides on the hunting ban — she now supports it. Her predecessor, Mr Gove, gained increasing respect from both environmentalists and farmers; the new Defra Minister has the capacity to do the same, but she will have a lot of catching up to do.￼ \t \t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\tWe know how to save the Earth, says John Gummer. All we need is the leadership to make it happen.\t\t\tCredit: NASA\t\t \t A message of hope: ‘Humanity may be on course to destroy the planet, but we know how to stop it, we can afford to stop it and we have the technology to stop it’ We know we’ve caused global warming, but we can stop making it worse, says John Gummer, chair of the Climate \t \t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\tWhat lies ahead for the British countryside?\t\t\tCredit: Getty Images\t\t \t Country Life Today: Baby owls, ancient kings and what the new Environment Secretary means for the British countryside This morning's news round up takes a look at the new head of DEFRA, takes a look at baby owls'
Changes in our environment can reveal previously hidden mutations in our DNA with potentially good and bad consequences.
'ktsdesign/Shutterstock Rarely has our environment changed so quickly. On top of climate change, we’re exposing ourselves to air pollutants, microplastics and unprecedented levels of fat, salt and sugar in our food. Environmental change is one of the things that can produce big, serious mutations in our DNA that can quickly lead to disease, such as cancer caused by radiation. But our DNA also contains many tiny hidden mutations. While they initially have no effect on us thanks to a box of genetic tricks our bodies use to protect us, these “cryptic” variations can build up over many generations and then be brought to life by big environmental changes. Recent research has shown just how important these cryptic variations are to evolution. There’s a chance they could be behind the growing risk of problems such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and could even produce new diseases. But these mutations could also be hidden gifts from our ancestors that enable us to adapt more quickly to the issues we face, from medical conditions to climate change. Changes to DNA combined with the process of natural selection are what allow species to evolve. Some genetic variations provide a selective advantage and the individuals who have them are more likely to survive and pass on their genes, gradually spreading them throughout the species. Any changes that are a disadvantage reduce the survival or reproductive chances for an individual and are less likely to be passed to future generations. Buffer against change Cryptic genetic variation gives us a third alternative. Some changes in DNA have little or no effect, giving neither an advantage or disadvantage but slowly building up over generations. These variations hide in various ways. For example, simple organisms are able to reduce the impact of changes in the environment on their biological functions using a process known as canalisation . This means minor changes to their DNA don’t cause visible differences. Sometimes, genes are even duplicated in different parts of the DNA, so that there is redundancy in the system . Any changes in one gene can then be hidden by the others. In complex lifeforms, many new variations also go unseen because we have two versions of most of our genes (one from mum and one from dad), and one of the versions is dominant over the other. Cryptic genetic variations are recessive (not dominant) in this relationship and so under normal conditions do not show. There are also some very minor changes that don’t cause any real change to the biochemistry of the organism. They perhaps swap one component in a protein for something very similar. All these things act as a buffer against physical changes, allowing a build-up of variation in the DNA that only becomes visible when there is a significant change in the environment. Many researchers in the field of evolutionary genetics believe that this cryptic genetic variation may answer the problem of how species have been able to rapidly adapt to new challenges in the past. The finches of the Galapagos islands helped Darwin to develop his theory of evolution, and the rapid creation of the different types of finches he saw is very likely to be an example of cryptic variation at work. Illuminating experiment: fluorescent green E. coli bacteria. KPWangkanont/Shutterstock Observing this change in animals or in the wild is impossible, given the multi-generational timescales involved. But researchers at the University of Zürich recently used E. coli bacteria to prove the importance of this variation in evolution and adaptation to new environments. In their experiments, they created an artificial environment in which bacteria that could produce green fluorescence had an advantage over those that produced yellow. The researchers showed that bacterial colonies containing higher levels of cryptic variation were able to switch more rapidly to fluorescing green. This was a tiny, insignificant change for the bacteria, but a very clear proof of the concept that cryptic variation can help a species adapt more quickly to environmental change. This may be very important in understanding the importance of cryptic variation in more critical systems affecting disease resistance and susceptibility. Researchers at the University of Würzburg have shown that the level of cryptic genetic variation in Neisseria meningitidis , a bacterium that can cause meningitis, contributes to how harmful the resulting disease is. This higher level of variation is only a factor when the bacteria enter the bloodstream, but has no impact in their normal environment of the human throat. A better understanding of how these bacteria change when they’re in the blood may help us to combat diseases such as meningitis. We will have a better understanding of how the symptoms occur and, crucially, could be able to tackle any antibiotic resistance hidden away in the bacteria’s DNA . Hidden potential Our own DNA also harbours high levels of cryptic variation . The potential for cryptic genetic variants hidden away in our DNA suddenly becoming not so cryptic thanks to changes in the environment is a serious concern. Though we still don’t understand the exact effects of cryptic variation, several changes in our DNA, silently inherited from our ancestors, have already been linked to increased risk of diseases such as asthma or cancer . For people with these changes, exposure to car exhaust fumes, is more likely to have an effect. However, there may also be solutions as well as problems hidden in DNA. As the world warms as a result of climate change, could cryptic genetic variation give us and other species a much-needed lifeline? The increased ability to evolve quickly and adapt, may be all that stands between a species surviving global warming and extinction. Michael J Porter no recibe salario, ni ejerce labores de consultoría, ni posee acciones, ni recibe financiación de ninguna compañía u organización que pueda obtener beneficio de este artículo, y ha declarado carecer de vínculos relevantes más allá del cargo académico citado.'