China launches cargo rocket with supplies for space station
A Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-2 took off at 8:50 p.m. (1250 GMT) from the Wenchang launch center on Hainan Island, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The Tianzhou-2 carried fuel and supplies for the Tianhe space station, state media reported earlier. The Chinese space agency says 11 launches are planned through the end of next year to deliver two more modules for the 70-ton space station, supplies and its three-member crew.news.yahoo.com
The secrets of human chromosomes have not yet been cracked by scientists, study suggests
Scientists have finally weighed a full set of human chromosomes and discovered they are 20 times heavier than expected - declaring there could be "missing components". Researchers told the Sunday Telegraph they have no idea as to what that may be. Chromosomes are bundles of genetic material which exist inside almost every cell of all complex lifeforms, from bacteria to humans and everything in between. Most humans have 46 chromosomes — 23 pairs — all of different size and shape, but other species have varying numbers. For example, possums have just 22, foxes have 34 and a great white shark has 82. But Atlas blue butterflies have around 450 and the Adder’s tongue fern has a staggering 1,440. But regardless of number or organism, all chromosomes follow the same basic structure. Individual bases of DNA, called A, G, C and T, pair up and form short, double helix-shaped chains which wrap around a ball of eight proteins to create bundles called nucleosomes. These little packages of genetic material are joined to one another by a thin piece of connective material, and experts refer to them as ‘beads on a string’. But while we know all this, and that the complete copy of a human genome contains more than 6.4billion base pairs of DNA, the exact and total mass of our chromosomes has never been known. Scientists from UCL used a powerful X-ray beam in Didcot, Oxfordshire, called Diamond, to weigh a complete set of human chromosomes for the first time. The researchers bombarded individual chromosomes with X-rays and assessed how much the beam scattered. This diffraction pattern was used to produce a 3D reconstruction of the chromosome’s structure. The brightness of the Diamond machinery, which outshines the Sun by billions of times, allowed for a highly detailed image. Professor Robinson and colleagues published their paper in the journal Chromosome Research and found the mass of all 46 human chromosomes to be 242 picograms. The heaviest is chromosome 1, which is also the largest, and it weighs 10.9 picograms. One picogram is a trillionth of a gram and a grain of sand weighs approximately 0.000000004 picograms. A red blood cell, which does not have a nucleus and therefore is devoid of genetic material, weighs around 27 picograms. “There may be quite a lot of missing components to our chromosomes that are yet to be discovered,” Professor Ian Robinson, senior author of the new study from UCL, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Chromosomes have been investigated by scientists for 130 years but there are still parts of these complex structures that are poorly understood.” He went on: "The mass of DNA we know from the Human Genome Project, but this is the first time we have been able to precisely measure the masses of chromosomes that include this DNA. “Our measurement suggests the 46 chromosomes in each of our cells weigh 242 picograms. “This is heavier than we would expect, and, if replicated, points to unexplained excess mass in chromosomes.” In order to accurately measure the chromosomal mass, the researchers blasted them with X-rays when the cells were in metaphase, before they underwent the splitting process. Scientists are constantly trying to learn more about the human body, and the mapping of the genome was a key step in that. However, this study lays bare the fact there is still a long way to go before we fully understand the nuances of our own body. Archana Bhartiya, a PhD student at the London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL and lead author of the paper, said: “A better understanding of chromosomes may have important implications for human health. “A vast amount of study of chromosomes is undertaken in medical labs to diagnose cancer from patient samples. “Any improvements in our abilities to image chromosomes would therefore be highly valuable.”news.yahoo.com
Outrage as regulators let pesticides from factory pollute US town for years
Contamination from an ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska, came from some of the world’s largest agricultural companies A pesticide pile in Mead, Nebraska. Photograph: Carey Gillam For years, the people of Mead, Nebraska, have worried about the ethanol plant that moved into their small rural community a little over a decade ago. They feared the terrible smells and odd illnesses in the area might be connected to the plant and its use of pesticide-coated seed corn in its biofuel production process. Those concerns recently turned to outrage and anger after environmental regulators were forced to acknowledge that under their oversight the AltEn LLC ethanol plant has been contaminating the area with an array of pesticides at levels much higher than what is considered safe. The contamination has been ongoing for years, exacerbated through accidental spills and leaks of the plant’s pesticide-laden waste, which has been stored in poorly maintained lagoons and piled into hills of a putrid lime-green mash called “wet cake”. The company had also distributed the waste to area farmers for spreading across fields as “soil conditioner”. It was only earlier this year – after media reports exposed the problems – that state officials ordered the plant to close, and began efforts to clean up what many in the community see as a sprawling environmental disaster. The state attorney general’s office then sued the company for multiple alleged environmental violations, citing “an ongoing threat to the environment”, and late last month Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill restricting the use of pesticide-treated seeds for ethanol production. Residents of Mead say the crackdown on the plant is welcomed, but, in many respects, is far too late. The lingering impact of the pollution won’t simply end with the new law, nor will many of the industrial agriculture practices that caused it. Instead, the pollution continues to wreak havoc and there are fears that Mead’s trauma may be repeated in other small towns across the state where large-scale industrial agriculture practices continue. The pollution continues to wreak havoc and there are fears that Mead’s trauma may be repeated in other small towns across the state “I believe this is an environmental failure of colossal proportions and the blame can be squarely laid at the feet of the governor and his staff who simply closed their eyes to the environmental damage being done,” former Nebraska state senator Al Davis told the Guardian. Fish die-offs are reported miles downstream from the plant. University researchers have reported the decimation of dozens of honeybee colonies, and state officials have received reports of sick and dying geese and other birds, as well as disoriented dogs and unexplained ailments in people. Regulators said they have found unsafe pesticide levels in a farm pond, and water used for drinking and for irrigating crops is also feared contaminated, according to records within the Nebraska department of environment and energy (NDEE). Pesticide residues have been detected in soil samples taken from an area park. Meanwhile, AltEn lagoons are awash in millions of gallons of pesticide-laden wastewater and 84,000m pounds of distillers grains byproduct sit in piles around the plant. State tests on the water and the byproduct show staggeringly high levels of several pesticides associated with a range of health problems for people and wildlife. Carol Blood, a Nebraska state senator, said the situation in and around Mead, a tiny village of roughly 500 people, is “dire”. She is pushing for an investigation into AltEn’s practices and is planning a series of public meetings across the state to help evaluate the scope of the environmental damage. “Based on the scale of the issue … it is an environmental catastrophe,” Blood said. Neither the NDEE nor the governor’s office would answer questions about the situation posed by the Guardian. AltEn attorney Stephen Mossman also declined to comment and AltEn’s general manager, Scott Tingelhoff, did not reply to requests to discuss the situation. Seed companies The pesticides creating the problems in and around Mead came from some of the world’s largest agricultural companies, who make and sell seeds coated in different types of chemicals as a tool for protecting growing crops from damaging insects and disease. AltEn advertised itself as a “green recycling” location where agricultural companies could dispose of unwanted supplies of these pesticide-treated seeds. Bayer AG, which owns Monsanto, along with Syngenta, Corteva, and other large companies, were among those dumping seeds coated with an array of insecticides and fungicides at AltEn, according to AltEn marketing materials. The pesticides creating the problems in and around Mead came from some of the world’s largest agricultural companies The companies could rid themselves of pesticide-coated corn, wheat and sorghum seed free of charge at AltEn, and pay a fee to dispose of soybean and other types of treated seeds, under the AltEn program. The companies are now actively involved in the clean-up. Emails between state regulators and Bayer’s senior remediation manager, Mark Bowers, show Bayer overseeing a range of actions on the AltEn site. Among other actions, Bayer is trying to lease farmland in the area to house storage tanks for AltEn waste, and is working on a plan to spread the plant’s wastewater over area fields after the water is treated to reduce pesticide levels. In a statement, Bayer said it was addressing “priorities in the management of wastewater and wet cake along with the development of a remediation plan stewarded by the State of Nebraska”. Syngenta said it was working with the other seed companies on “voluntary response activities”, and is “committed to proper stewardship for the safe use of treated seeds”. Corteva confirmed it was part of the team working to “address environmental conditions at the AltEn site”. None of the companies would answer questions about how much of the pesticide-laced seed they deposited at AltEn over the years. A source close to the companies said they believed AltEn would handle the seeds responsibly and they were not culpable in the contamination. A history of trouble The ethanol plant was first introduced to Mead in 2007 as part of a “closed-loop” system developed by a company called E3 Biofuels. A 30,000-head cattle operation was set up adjacent to the ethanol facility. Operators said they would process manure from the animals into methane gas to help power the plant and use manure to fertilize corn fields. Wet distillers’ grains made as a byproduct could be fed back to the cattle, a common industry practice. But after just a few months, the plant closed and E3 filed for bankruptcy in late 2007. AltEn later restarted the plant, telling regulators in 2013 the plant would be using grain, “mainly corn”, as its primary raw material. Nebraska regulators discovered in 2015, however, that AltEn was using pesticide-coated seeds, one of only two ethanol plants in the United States known to do so. Records show by 2018 the regulators knew the byproducts contained “measurable” pesticide residues and by 2019 they knew the pesticides were present in “elevated concentrations”. There are more Meads out there Jane Kleeb According to correspondence between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NDEE, tests run on AltEn’s wet cake and wastewater showed “very high levels of pesticide residues”, including neonicotinoids, which are known neurotoxins. The fact that the material had been applied to area fields meant the pesticides could leach into groundwater and be taken up into plant tissues, contaminating nectar and pollen and threatening wildlife, the EPA warned. The NDEE ordered AltEn to stop distributing the waste for land application in 2019 because of the pesticide levels. But the agency did not stop the company from taking in more pesticide-coated seed. Over the years, AltEn racked up multiple violations of environmental regulations, NDEE records show. But it was not until February of this year that NDEE ordered the plant to close until the contamination was cleaned up. Only days after the shutdown, a pipe attached to a 4m-gallon digester tank broke, washing toxins into waterways and spreading them at least 4.5 miles away, according to regulators. In May, another leak was discovered in a pipe adjacent to a wastewater lagoon. Monitoring health While regulators sample water and soil, many area residents worry that the beef cattle operation adjacent to the AltEn plant has also been contaminated. They wonder how much the animals there may have been exposed to pesticide concentrates through their feed and water, and if people who consumed meat from those animals may have long-term health consequences. “People want answers and action,” said Jane Kleeb, who chairs the Nebraska Democratic party and is pushing for resources, such as medical testing and water filtration, for the people in and around Mead. Researchers from the University of Nebraska and Creighton University are now launching a 10-year study of the impacts on human and environmental health. The situation is but the latest example of how industrial agricultural practices can create hazards dangerous to human and environmental health, according to Blood, who grew up on a farm in Hastings, Nebraska, and suspects cancers developed by many Hastings residents were linked to chemicals in the soil and water. The area was designated a federal superfund site because of the contamination. “There is a lot of stuff like this that goes on in a lot of these small towns,” she said. “There are more Meads out there.”news.yahoo.com
Ann Arbor’s Bløm Meadworks partners with local businesses to offer subscription bundles
ANN ARBOR – Bløm Meadworks owners Lauren Bloom and Matt Ritchey have pivoted several times to address the shifting landscape during the pandemic. (Bløm Meadworks)Each kit will be available for pick up on the fourth Saturday of the month. Bundles are available in 3 month, 6 month or ongoing subscriptions. “We all have less foot traffic and a smaller audience than we are used to,” said Bloom. On a personal note, they allow her and Ritchey to continue working with community partners.
Enjoy fall with these unique meads and hard ciders
Which means it’s a great time for mead, cider. B.Nektar in Ferndale offers flavorful meads and ciders in their taproom. B.Nektar makes their own mead in-house and sell Michigan made ciders. You can place your order online and pick up any mead, hard cider, or beer to go. Watch the video to see what unique meads you should try from B.Nektar.
GPFPE grants assist with reconfiguration
Three of the five grants awarded address changes in place for the 2020-21 school year as part of the district reconfiguration from nine to seven elementary schools and fifth-graders transitioning from elementary to middle school buildings. Poupard was one of two schools selected for closure and students will relocate to Mason or Monteith elementary school. Warden Fund established in her memory and designated for elementary school initiatives within GPPSS. The grant was submitted by special education teachers Linda Cole and Rosemary Birchmeier and Brownell Athletic Director and physical education teacher Gina Francis. Funding of $2,000 was provided for the all-girls robotics team at Pierce.grossepointenews.com