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Wicked Blue

Wicked Blue's Journal
Wicked Blue's Journal
March 31, 2023

New drug offers "two-for-one" treatment of heart failure, sleep apnea

New Atlas
By Paul McClure
March 30, 2023

Heart failure is a global health problem commonly complicated by sleep apnea, a co-morbidity that further reduces a person’s lifespan. A promising new drug has been developed that could treat heart failure and sleep apnea by targeting the nervous activity that drives both.

For people with heart failure, the prognosis is poor and mortality high despite recent advances in treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health, heart failure affects more than 64 million people worldwide, making it a major global public health priority.


Now, a promising new drug has been developed that targets the nerve activity that causes both heart failure and sleep apnea. Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand tested the drug, known as AF-130, on rats with chronic heart failure and sleep apnea. They found that AF-130 acted as an effective P2X3 receptor antagonist, normalizing the body’s respiratory response to hypoxia and substantially improving the amount of blood pumped by the heart (cardiac output). Breathing disturbances were eliminated.

“This drug does offer benefit for heart failure, but it’s two for the price of one, in that it’s also relieving the apnea for which there is currently no drug, only CPAP, which is poorly tolerated,” said Julian Paton, corresponding author of the study.


The article mentions that the drug is soon to be approved by the FDA for a different clinical use.

I am so excited. I HATE CPAPs.

March 29, 2023

New additives could turn concrete into an effective carbon sink

MIT News
David L. Chandler

Despite the many advantages of concrete as a modern construction material, including its high strength, low cost, and ease of manufacture, its production currently accounts for approximately 8 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Recent discoveries by a team at MIT have revealed that introducing new materials into existing concrete manufacturing processes could significantly reduce this carbon footprint, without altering concrete’s bulk mechanical properties.


Approximately half of the emissions associated with concrete production come from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, which are used to heat up a mix of limestone and clay that ultimately becomes the familiar gray powder known as ordinary Portland cement (OPC). While the energy required for this heating process could eventually be substituted with electricity generated from renewable solar or wind sources, the other half of the emissions is inherent in the material itself: As the mineral mix is heated to temperatures above 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,552 degrees Fahrenheit), it undergoes a chemical transformation from calcium carbonate and clay to a mixture of clinker (consisting primarily of calcium silicates) and carbon dioxide — with the latter escaping into the air.


In contrast, the new carbon dioxide sequestration pathways discovered by the authors rely on the very early formation of carbonates during concrete mixing and pouring, before the material sets, which might largely eliminate the detrimental effects of carbon dioxide uptake after the material cures.

The key to the new process is the addition of one simple, inexpensive ingredient: sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda. In lab tests using sodium bicarbonate substitution, the team demonstrated that up to 15 percent of the total amount of carbon dioxide associated with cement production could be mineralized during these early stages — enough to potentially make a significant dent in the material’s global carbon footprint.


Baking soda!

March 29, 2023

Police Standoff With Armed Woman Shuts Down Richmond Highway over 11 hours

Happening now:

By Jackie Bensen, News4 Reporter
NBC4 Washington

Police are in a tense standoff on Richmond Highway in the Hybla Valley area with an armed woman in an incident that may be connected to the case of two missing Maryland women.

For the safety of the public, Richmond Highway–the major artery through the area–has been shut down for over 11 hours as of 11 p.m.

Authorities said they were asked by another law enforcement agency to perform a welfare check in an area just up the street at around 11 a.m. They said they were checking for a missing person in potential danger.

Outside a Quality Inn Motel, they encountered a distraught woman.

“When we responded there, there was a woman who said she had been abducted, and the suspect vehicle had just fled. So we began searching the area, and that’s when one of our officers found the vehicle, and it led to a pursuit and ended here,” Lt. James Curry said. “She did display a firearm to the officers during that first traffic stop, and that’s led to the response that you see here.”

March 28, 2023

Scotland's 'oldest' tartan found in Highlands bog

NBC News
March 28, 2023, 8:43 AM EDT
By Mithil Aggarwal

A piece of fabric discovered in a bog in the Scottish Highlands might be the oldest traditional tartan ever found, new research suggests.

The piece of material could be up to 500 years old, according to scientists, who said it survived due to the lack of air getting to it. The fabric was found almost 40 years ago in a peat bog — a type of wetland — in the Glen Affric valley, some 15 miles west of Loch Ness.

It is believed to have been made in the 16th century around the time of the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, according to dye analysis and radiocarbon testing that was commissioned by the Scottish Tartans Authority and released this week.

The 55 cm by 43 cm (almost 22 inches by 17 inches) piece of Scottish history is now expected to go on display at the Scottish V&A Dundee museum’s Tartan exhibition on April 1.


The article said an analysis found the colors in the garment were green, brown and possibly red and yellow.

March 25, 2023

2 dead, at least 9 unaccounted for after explosion rocks Pennsylvania chocolate factory

Source: NBC News

By Kurt Chirbas and Tim Stelloh

Two people are dead and at least nine are unaccounted for after an explosion rocked a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania on Friday, authorities said.

Between six and eight people were also taken for medical attention in the blast at R.M. Palmer Company in West Reading, 63 miles northwest of Philadelphia, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said.

A spokeswoman for Reading Hospital said eight people were brought to the facility. One was transferred, two were in fair condition and the others were released, said the spokeswoman, Jessica Belzer, of Tower Health.

The cause of the blast was unclear. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/2-dead-7-missing-explosion-rocks-pennsylvania-chocolate-factory-rcna76640

Updated March 25, 2023, 12:01 PM EDT

2 dead and 5 unaccounted for after explosion rocks Pennsylvania chocolate factory

Two people are confirmed dead after an explosion rocked a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania, officials said Saturday morning after initially saying that five people had been killed in the explosion.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency had said in a tweet that Berks County had reported five deaths following a blast Friday at R.M. Palmer Company in West Reading, around 63 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

But Mayor Samantha Kaag said that number was inaccurate and two had been killed. Five others remain missing and one person was rescued overnight.


March 24, 2023

FBI arrests alleged operator of site that hosted hacked congressional health data

Source: NBC

March 24, 2023, 3:23 PM EDT
By Kevin Collier

The FBI has arrested a man accused of running the hacker website that recently made public the personal information of tens of thousands of congressional employees, court records show.

The site, BreachForums, served as a marketplace for hackers to openly buy, sell and trade hacked material. It became inaccessible Monday.

The suspect, Conor Fitzpatrick, is charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud for allegedly helping users of the site sell access to hacked companies. The charges detail how an undercover FBI agent posed as a buyer for such access.

On March 8, Capitol Police told Congress that a major data breach had affected DC Health Link, a health care marketplace used by many members of Congress and their staff.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/fbi-arrests-alleged-operator-site-hosted-hacked-congressional-health-d-rcna76562

March 24, 2023

Peak Bloom!

The National Park Service announced yesterday (Thursday) that the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin on the National Mall in Washington DC have reached peak bloom.

According to the NPS, peak bloom date is defined as the day when 70% of the Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) blossoms are open. Peak bloom varies annually depending on weather conditions.

The Yoshino trees typically bloom for a period of several days. The length of the blooming period depends on weather conditions. Cool, calm weather can extend the length of the bloom, and a rainy, windy day can bring an abrupt end to the ephemeral blossoms.
March 21, 2023

Have we got Ancient Egypt's mummies all wrong?

By Holly Williams
20th March 2023

Mummies, like werewolves, vampires and witches, are the stuff of legend in the popular imagination. The idea of bodies from an ancient civilisation, mysteriously preserved for thousands of years, discovered in glittering tombs, has always held an allure: from the Victorians holding mummy "unwrapping" parties through to "Tutmania" in the 1920s following the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, to a wealth of movies from Hammer Horror flicks to Indiana Jones.

Given all this, it's no wonder that myths and misconceptions about them abound. But a British exhibition aims to shed new light on this ancient practice – and maybe even shift our perspective.

Manchester Museum in the north of England reopened last month after a £15m redevelopment project – and their free opening exhibition, Golden Mummies of Egypt, showcases their incredible Egyptology collection. It includes eight mummies dating from the Graeco-Roman period (300BC to 300AD), brought to Britain by archaeologist Flinders Petrie, following his 1888–90 and 1911 excavations of a huge necropolis at Hawara, in the Faiyum region south of Cairo.


For starters, and rather unusually these days, they are not including any X-rays or CT scans of the human remains below the wrappings; there is no bio-medical speculation on how old these people were when they passed away or how they died. Scans of the mummies were included while the show was on tour – but have now been removed (which involved reworking information displays at some cost), to reflect Manchester Museum's new thinking about how to present such sensitive artefacts. "We're stepping back from this desire to unwrap," says Price, adding that they hope to "flip the narrative" by refocusing the attention "from the inside – what we expect we have the right to see – on to the outside – what the Ancient Egyptians expected people to see."


Price contends that mummification was not about preserving the bodies, but about transforming the dead into gods.

March 17, 2023

New Covid origins data suggests pandemic linked to raccoon dogs at Wuhan market

NBC News
March 17, 2023, 9:48 AM EDT
By The Associated Press

International scientists who examined previously unavailable genetic data from samples collected at a market close to where the first human cases of Covid-19 were detected in China said they found suggestions the pandemic originated from animals, not a lab.

Other experts have not yet verified their analysis, which also has not appeared so far in a peer-reviewed journal. How the coronavirus first started sickening people remains uncertain.

“These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a Friday press briefing.

He also criticized China for not sharing the genetic information earlier, adding that “this data could have and should have been shared three years ago.”


March 16, 2023

'Terrifying' plastic rocks found on remote Brazilian island

March 16, 2023, 9:21 AM EDT / Source: Reuters
By Reuters

The geology of Brazil’s volcanic Trindade Island has fascinated scientists for years, but the discovery of rocks made from plastic debris in this remote turtle refuge is sparking alarm.

Melted plastic has become intertwined with rocks on the island, located 1,140 km (708 miles) from the southeastern state of Espirito Santo, which researchers say is evidence of humans’ growing influence over the earth’s geological cycles.

“This is new and terrifying at the same time, because pollution has reached geology,” said Fernanda Avelar Santos, a geologist at the Federal University of Parana.

Santos and her team ran chemical tests to find out what kind of plastics are in the rocks called “plastiglomerates” because they are made of a mixture of sedimentary granules and other debris held together by plastic.


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