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Putting Lazy to Bed: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a physical disorder, not a psychological illness, panel says




Excerpt from washingtonpost.com

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a "serious, debilitating" condition with a cluster of clear physical symptoms — not a psychological illness — a panel of experts reported Tuesday as it called for more research into a disease that may affect as many as 2.5 million Americans.
"We just needed to put to rest, once and for all, the idea that this is just psychosomatic or that people were making this up, or that they were just lazy," said Ellen Wright Clayton, a professor of pediatrics and law at Vanderbilt University, who chaired the committee of the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Although the cause of the disorder is still unknown, the panel established three critical symptoms for the condition (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis):

  • A sharp reduction in the ability to engage in pre-illness activity levels that lasts for more than six months and is accompanied by deep fatigue that only recently developed.
  • Worsening of symptoms after any type of exertion, including "physical, cognitive or emotional stress."
  • Sleep that doesn't refresh the sufferer.
In addition, the committee said, true chronic fatigue syndrome also includes either cognitive impairment or the inability to remain upright with symptoms that improve when the person with the condition lies down, known as "orthostatic intolerance."
The panel acknowledged what people with chronic fatigue syndrome have long complained about: They struggle, sometimes for years, before finding a health-care provider who diagnoses a disorder that often devastates their lives. Sixty-seven percent to 77 percent reported in surveys that it took longer than a year to receive a diagnosis, and about 29 percent said it took longer than five years. The vast majority of people with the disorder remain undiagnosed, the panel said, estimating that between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans have it.
"Seeking and receiving a diagnosis can be a frustrating process for several reasons, including skepticism of health care providers about the serious nature of [chronic fatigue syndrome] and the misconception that it is a psychogenic illness or even a figment of the patient’s imagination," the panel wrote.  Less than a third of medical schools include the condition in their curricula and only 40 percent of medical textbooks contain information on it, the experts said.
Christine Williams, who has the illness herself and is vice-chair of the board of directors for the advocacy group Solve ME/CFS Initiative, welcomed the IOM report.
“I have been sick for six-and-a-half-years, and this is definitely the most encouraging thing that I have seen,” she said. Williams praised the IOM for setting forth a set of clearly understandable diagnostic criteria, including the hallmark symptom “post-exertional malaise.”
Williams predicted that the IOM panel’s proposed new name for the illness -- "systemic exertion intolerance disease"--would be widely debated by patients’ groups. But she added that the IOM “moved in the right direction by getting away from 'chronic fatigue syndrome',” which she said  trivialized a serious disease.
Williams, who spent three decades working as a health policy expert in the federal government, said she hopes the report sparks additional research into new treatments for the illness.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome remains unknown, but symptoms may be triggered by an infection or "immunization, anesthetics, physical trauma, exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals and heavy metals and, rarely, blood transfusions," the panel reported. Clayton said mononucleosis is "a major trigger" of chronic fatigue syndrome among adolescents, but little is known about causes beyond that.
Treatments can include drugs such as anti-depressants and sleeping pills; gentle exercise and psychological counseling; and lifestyle changes such as limiting stress, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Clayton also emphasized that many people with chronic fatigue syndrome also have other medical problems, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment.
"Lots of adults have more than one thing going on," she said. "If they meet these criteria, they have this disorder. They can have something else as well, which is not uncommon in medicine."

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Planck telescope puts new datestamp on first stars


Polarisation of the sky
Planck has mapped the delicate polarisation of the CMB across the entire sky



Excerpt from bbc.com

Scientists working on Europe's Planck satellite say the first stars lit up the Universe later than previously thought.

The team has made the most precise map of the "oldest light" in the cosmos.

Earlier observations of this radiation had suggested the first generation of stars were bursting into life by about 420 million years after the Big Bang.

Planck's data indicates this great ignition was well established by some 560 million years after it all began.

"This difference of 140 million years might not seem that significant in the context of the 13.8-billion-year history of the cosmos, but proportionately it's actually a very big change in our understanding of how certain key events progressed at the earliest epochs," said Prof George Efstathiou, one of the leaders of the Planck Science Collaboration.

Subtle signal

The assessment is based on studies of the "afterglow" of the Big Bang, the ancient light called the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which still washes over the Earth today.
Prof George Efstathiou: "We don't need more complicated explanations"

The European Space Agency's (Esa) Planck satellite mapped this "fossil" between 2009 and 2013.

It contains a wealth of information about early conditions in the Universe, and can even be used to work out its age, shape and do an inventory of its contents.

Scientists can also probe it for very subtle "distortions" that tell them about any interactions the CMB has had on its way to us.

Forging elements

One of these would have been imprinted when the infant cosmos underwent a major environmental change known as re-ionisation.

Prof Richard McMahon: "The two sides of the bridge now join"
It is when the cooling neutral hydrogen gas that dominated the Universe in the aftermath of the Big Bang was then re-energised by the ignition of the first stars.

These hot giants would have burnt brilliant but brief lives, producing the very first heavy elements. But they would also have "fried" the neutral gas around them - ripping electrons off the hydrogen protons.

And it is the passage of the CMB through this maze of electrons and protons that would have resulted in it picking up a subtle polarisation.

ImpressionImpression: The first stars would have been unwieldy behemoths that burnt brief but brilliant lives


The Planck team has now analysed this polarisation in fine detail and determined it to have been generated at 560 million years after the Big Bang.

The American satellite WMAP, which operated in the 2000s, made the previous best estimate for the peak of re-ionisation at 420 million years. 

The problem with that number was that it sat at odds with Hubble Space Telescope observations of the early Universe.

Hubble could not find stars and galaxies in sufficient numbers to deliver the scale of environmental change at the time when WMAP suggested it was occurring.

Planck's new timing "effectively solves the conflict," commented Prof Richard McMahon from Cambridge University, UK.

"We had two groups of astronomers who were basically working on different sides of the problem. The Planck people came at it from the Big Bang side, while those of us who work on galaxies came at it from the 'now side'. 

"It's like a bridge being built over a river. The two sides do now join where previously we had a gap," he told BBC News.

That gap had prompted scientists to invoke complicated scenarios to initiate re-ionisation, including the possibility that there might have been an even earlier population of giant stars or energetic black holes. Such solutions are no longer needed.

No-one knows the exact timing of the very first individual stars. All Planck does is tell us when large numbers of these stars had gathered into galaxies of sufficient strength to alter the cosmic environment. 

By definition, this puts the ignition of the "founding stars" well before 560 million years after the Big Bang. Quite how far back in time, though, is uncertain. Perhaps, it was as early as 200 million years. It will be the job of the next generation of observatories like Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, to try to find the answer.

JWSTBeing built now: The James Webb telescope will conduct a survey of the first galaxies and their stars
line
The history of the Universe

Graphic of the history of time
  • Planck's CMB studies indicate the Big Bang was 13.8bn years ago
  • The CMB itself can be thought of as the 'afterglow' of the Big Bang
  • It spreads across the cosmos some 380,000 years after the Big Bang
  • This is when the conditions cool to make neutral hydrogen atoms
  • The period before the first stars is often called the 'Dark Ages'
  • When the first stars ignite, they 'fry' the neutral gas around them
  • These giants also forge the first heavy elements in big explosions
  • 'First Light', or 'Cosmic Renaissance', is a key epoch in history
line

The new Planck result is contained in a raft of new papers just posted on the Esa website. 

These papers accompany the latest data release from the satellite that can now be used by the wider scientific community, not just collaboration members.
Dr Andrew Jaffe: "The simplest models for inflation are ruled out"
Two years ago, the data dump largely concerned interpretations of the CMB based on its temperature profile. It is the CMB's polarisation features that take centre-stage this time.
It was hoped that Planck might find direct evidence in the CMB's polarisation for inflation - the super-rapid expansion of space thought to have occurred just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. This has not been possible. But all the Planck data - temperature and polarisation information - is consistent with that theory, and the precision measurements mean new, tighter constraints have been put on the likely scale of the inflation signal, which other experiments continue to chase.
What is clear from the Planck investigation is that the simplest models for how the super-rapid expansion might have worked are probably no longer tenable, suggesting some exotic physics will eventually be needed to explain it.
"We're now being pushed into a parameter space we didn't expect to be in," said collaboration scientist Dr Andrew Jaffe from Imperial College, UK. "That's OK. We like interesting physics; that's why we're physicists, so there's no problem with that. It's just we had this naïve expectation that the simplest answer would be right, and sometimes it just isn't."

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Jupiter at its biggest, brightest for two weeks

Excerpt from pressofatlanticcity.comBy FRED SCHAAF  ...

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New Religion and Science Study Reveals ‘Post-Seculars’ Reject Evolution





Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com

(RNS) Meet the “Post-Seculars” — the one in five Americans who no one seems to have noticed before in endless rounds of debates pitting science vs. religion.

They’re more strongly religious than most “Traditionals” (43 percent of Americans) and more scientifically knowledgeable than “Moderns” (36 percent) who stand on science alone, according to two sociologists’ findings in a new study.

“We were surprised to find this pretty big group (21 percent) who are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but who are also very religious and who reject certain scientific theories,” said Timothy O’Brien, co-author of the research study, released Thursday (Jan. 29) in the American Sociological Review.

Put another way, there’s a sizable chunk of Americans out there who are both religious and scientifically minded but who break with both packs when faith and science collide.

Post-Seculars pick and choose among science and religion views to create their own “personally compelling way of understanding the world,” said O’Brien, assistant professor at University of Evansville in Indiana.

O’Brien and co-author Shiri Noy, an assistant professor of sociology at University of Wyoming, examined responses from 2,901 people to 18 questions on knowledge of and attitudes toward science, and four religion-related questions in the General Social Surveys conducted in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Many findings fit the usual way the science-religion divide is viewed:

— Moderns, who stand on reason, scored high on scientific knowledge and scored lowest on religion questions regarding biblical authority and the strength of their religious ties.

— Traditionals, who lean toward religion, scored lower on science facts and were least likely to agree that “the benefits of scientific research outweigh the harmful results.”

However, the data turned up a third perspective – people who defied the familiar breakdown. The authors dubbed them “Post-Secular” to jump past a popular theory that Americans are moving way from religion to become more secular, O’Brien said.

Post-Seculars — about half of whom identify as conservative Protestants — know facts such as how lasers work, what antibiotics do and the way genetics affect inherited illnesses.

But when it comes to three main areas where science and Christian-centric religious views conflict — on human evolution, the Big Bang origin of the universe and the age of the Earth — Post-Seculars break away from the pack with very significantly different views from Traditionals and Moderns.

Areas where the factions are clear:

graphic

The universe began with a huge explosion:
Traditional: 21 percent
Modern: 68 percent
Post Secular: 6 percent

Human beings developed from earlier species of animals:
Traditional: 33 percent
Modern: 88 percent
Post-Secular: 3 percent

The continents have been moving for millions of years and will move in the future:
Traditional: 66 percent
Modern: 98 percent
Post-Secular: 80 percent

“Post-Seculars are smart. They know what scientists think. They just don’t agree on some key issues, and that has impact on their political views,” said O’Brien.

When the authors looked at views on the authority of the Bible and how strongly people said they were affiliated with their religion, Post-Seculars put the most faith in Scripture and were much more inclined to say they were strongly religious. And where science and faith conflict on hot-button issues, they side with the religious perspective.

For example, Moderns are the most supportive of embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights for women, but Post-Seculars, who are nonetheless largely positive about science and society, are more skeptical in both areas, O’Brien said.

Candidates running in the 2016 elections might take note.

Where people fall in these three groups can predict their attitudes on political issues where science and religion both have claims, O’Brien said, even after accounting for the usual suspects — social class, political ideology or church attendance.

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Study Suggests Baby Chicks Can Count! ~ Video





Excerpt from nbcnews.com
By Tia Ghose, LiveScience



It's not just humans who can count: Newly published research suggests chicks seem to have a number sense, too. 

Scientists found that chicks seem to count upward, moving from left to right. They put smaller numbers on the left, and larger numbers on the right — the same mental representation of the number line that humans use. 

"Our results suggest a rethinking of the relationship between numerical abilities and verbal language, providing further evidence that language and culture are not necessary for the development of a mathematical cognition," said study lead author Rosa Rugani, a psychologist at the University of Padova in Italy.

The left-to-right way of thinking about ascending numbers seems to be embedded in people's mental representations of numbers, but it's not clear exactly why. Is it an artifact of some long-lost accident of history, or is it a fundamental aspect of the way the brain processes numbers? 

To help answer those questions, Rugani and her colleagues trained 3-day-old chicks to travel around a screen panel with five dots on it to get to a food treat behind it. This made the five-dot panel an anchor number that the chicks could use for comparison with other numbers. 

After the chicks learned that the five-dot panel meant food, the researchers removed that panel and then placed the chicks in front of two panels, one to the left and the other to the right, that each had two dots. The chicks tended to go to the left panel, suggesting that they mentally represent numbers smaller than five as being to the left of five. 

When the researchers put the chicks in front of two panels that each had eight dots, the chicks walked to the panel on the right. This suggests the chicks mentally represent numbers larger than five as being to the right of five, the researchers said. 

In a second experiment, the researchers repeated the whole process, but started with a panel that had 20 dots instead of five. They then added two other panels that had either eight or 32 dots. Sure enough, the baby chicks tended to go to the left when the screens had just eight dots, and to the right when they had 32 dots, according to the findings published in this week's issue of the journal Science. 

"I would not at all be surprised that the number spatial mapping is also found in other animals, and in newborn infants," Rugani said.



Click to zoom

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Taiwan Conference Report / Solar System Situation Update

Taiwan conference was a huge success. Because Taiwan is one of the main centers of the positive Dragon forces, it could grow a very strong Lightworker and Lightwarrior community. The conference took place very close to the location where Taiwanese Drag...

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Alien Life? Nah, But Myserious White Spot on Ceres Leaves NASA Scientists Flummoxed

Images of the dwarf planet Ceres, which were taken by the Dawn spacecraft, reveal a mysterious white spot that reflects more sunlight. NASA scientists are not yet certain what this is but they have a hypothesis.Excerpt from techtimes.comA series of ...

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The Portal 2015-01-25 08:28:00

STRANGE EGG primary clear

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