viernes, 21 de abril de 2017

Scientists have developed a sunlight-powered device that can extract water even from desert skies. The device is powered passively by sunlight and may provide an answer to the billions facing severe water shortages around the world.

A New Device Uses Sunlight to Create Drinking Water From Air

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IN BRIEF
Scientists have developed a sunlight-powered device that can extract water even from desert skies. The device is powered passively by sunlight and may provide an answer to the billions facing severe water shortages around the world.

AN URGENT NEED MET

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 663 million people — one in ten — lack access to safe water. Fully one-third of the world’s population lacks plumbing enough to have access to a toilet—that’s more than 2.4 billion people. A 2016 report found that water shortages affect two-thirds of the world’s population. Water shortages — and the conflicts they cause — will worsen as climate change ramps up. In fact, the 2015 World Economic Forum cited lack of access to clean water as the number one global risk in existence today.
Working to find a solution to these problems, researchers have developed a sunlight-powered device that can extract water from even the driest desert skies, in the hope that the technology may one day supply even the poorest, driest areas of the world with clean drinking water. The basis for the device is a type of novel, porous material called metal-organic frameworks that pulls large amounts of water into its pores. The research, published in Science, shows that a kilogram of the material can trap several liters of water per day, even in the standard 20 percent humidity levels of arid regions.
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The chemical character and size of the material’s pores can be altered to either allow the flow or capture of different kinds of molecules. The material is able to bond with huge quantities of particles thanks to its massive surface area, which is equivalent to about a football field per gram. The process is entirely passive and does not require additional energy or materials. Unlike other water-harvesting technologies, it can operate in arid conditions. It’s similar to a humidifier, but does not need an initial supply of water in order to operate.
The material needs more refinement, but Evelyn Wang, head of MIT’s device research laboratory, told MIT Technology Review that a viable product is “not that far away.” Similar materials are already being affordably mass-produced by the German chemical company BASF. Hopefully, this device will be able to provide a stable source of clean water to millions.

Unmaking inequality: a history of violence Walter Scheidel (Stanford University) Borgerhoff Mulder et al., Science

Unmaking inequality: a history of violence Walter Scheidel (Stanford University) Borgerhoff Mulder et al., Science 326 (2009): study of intergenerational wealth transmission and dynamics of inequality in 21 small-scale societies (type of wealth/wealth transmission) Growing resource inequality in England and Wales Share of the richest 1% in national net worth 1700 39% 1740 44% 1810 55% 1875 61% 1911/13 69% Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Only a particular type of war generally lowers inequality! Requires mass mobilization that • raises state demands on the rich (to pay for war) • raises redistribution to the poor (army service, more general commitment to war effort) • favors state centralization and growth (to organize war) • disfavors elite entitlements (e.g. feudal rights) • favors entitlements for the poor (e.g. property rights, protections) Mass mobilization is a fairly modern phenomenon (especially since the French Revolution) – but there are earlier historical antecedents From the 5th to 3rd centuries BC, longterm inconclusive and symmetrical warfare between Warring States relying on ever-larger conscript infantry armies led to: suppression of hereditary nobility and feudal rights; direct taxation for war-making; periodic population registration; property rights for peasants; re-allocation of conquered land to conscripts; legal codification >> lowering overall inequality Only a particular type of war generally lowers inequality! In the historically common environment of tributary empires, successful wars: • raise inequality on the winning side (inflow of resources captured by elite >> rich get richer; inflow of captives/slaves >> more poor people) • lower it on the losing/conquered side (in percentage terms, the rich stand to lose more from being defeated than the poor) BUT: both groups become part of a larger system that is more unequal overall Ancient Rome as the quintessential tributary empire Annual income figures for ‘middling’ aristocrats reported in Roman sources: 100,000-600,000 sesterces (mid-first century BC; Cicero) 1,000,000 sesterces (late first century AD; Pliny the Younger) 6,000,000-9,000,000 sesterces (late fourth century AD; Olympiodorus) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Revolutions Russia, China, Cuba, Cambodia… French Revolution: French inequality was high in 18th century, fell 1790-1815 due to: • Abolition of regressive tax (dime) & feudal rights (corvee, etc) • Confiscation of church and aristocratic properties, acquired by people at different income levels >> share of land held by elite dropped from 42% in 1788 to 12% in 1802, share held by paysans rose from 30% to 42% • Salaries of urban workers rose by 62% from late 1780s to c1800, against 28% rise of the price of wheat • Inflation benefited tenants who paid rents in depreciated cash >> overall decrease in income share of upper class BUT: inequality again rises afterwards, esp. with industrialization from c1830 BUT: only transformative revolutions lower inequality Civil wars as such do not lower inequality Study of civil wars in 128 countries from 1960 to 2005 finds that inequality rises both during civil wars and especially right afterwards Why? Because civil war: • allows uncontrolled profiteering by small minority • interferes with access to market for the poor • interferes with state taxation and redistribution including social spending (Bircan, Bruck and Vothknecht 2010) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) The impact of a massive exogenous mortality shock (plague) on real wages: the case of the Black Death (Pamuk 2007) Black Death 0 2 4 6 8 1 0 1 2 260/50 210/180 120/90 BCE 100/160 CE 190/270 400/550 570/720 780/850 1000/1050 Daily wheat wage Daily wheat wages for unskilled rural laborers in Egypt, 260 BC – 1050 AD, in liters of wheat (Scheidel 2012) Plague! 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 1 1 1 2 1 3 1 4 1 5 1 6 1 7 Centuries CE Heigth in cm Mediterranean Center-West Mean body height in Mediterranean and Central/Western Europe (Köpke and Baten 2005) Plague! Plague! Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Share of assets owned by richest 1% of adult men, United States 1774 13.2% 1860 32.7% (Civil War 1861-5, abolition of slavery) 1870 27% Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Summary of the argument Development tends to increase resource inequality Agrarianism; Industrialism Violent shocks are the only factors capable of significantly reducing resource inequality (for a while) Violence Mass-mobilization wars Transformative revolutions State collapse Demographic contraction Pandemics Other factors are exotic or ineffective (abolition of slavery, migration, financial crises) Financial crises only very temporarily reduce inequality (unless they are linked to major shocks such as wars: Germany, France after World War I) 9/11 Financial crisis Or are there built-in ‘checks’ – i.e., does rising inequality generate countervailing forces, such as violent internal resistance? Large body of scholarship on whether inequality is a cause of civil wars: • Earlier literature tended to confirm relationship • Most comprehensive recent surveys fail to find clear relationship • 2013 study of proxy feature (deprivation) again suggests strong relationship BUT: remember that civil wars per se do not lower inequality and may actually raise it! Where do we go from here? The traditionally effective mechanisms • mass-mobilization wars • transformative revolutions • major epidemics • abolition of slavery are no longer available to us today ( – nor should we want them to be…) Other types of events, such as civil wars and financial crises, do not solve the problem History does not determine present or future actions and outcomes but it casts doubt on the prospects of policy measures that are not contextualized within these historically effective processes… … especially in an environment of ongoing globalization

Mark Zuckerberg: The end of smartphones and TVs is coming

Mark Zuckerberg: The end of smartphones and TVs is coming

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Samsung S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo - RTX2IVBO
Facebook is once again putting itself into direct competition with Google and Apple.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
It's no secret Mark Zuckerberg is pinning Facebook's prospects on augmented reality — technology that overlays digital imagery onto the real world, like Snapchat's signature camera filters.
At this year's F8 conference, taking place this week, Zuckerberg doubled down on the company's ambitious 10-year master plan, which was first revealed in 2016. According to this timeline, Facebook expects to turn artificial intelligence, ubiquitous internet connectivity, and virtual and augmented reality into viable parts of its business over the next decade.
The Facebook 10-year road map, first revealed in April 2016.Facebook
Image: Facebook
To accelerate the rise of augmented reality, a big part of the plan, Zuckerberg unveiled the Camera Effects platform — basically a set of tools for outside developers to build augmented-reality apps that you can access from the existing Facebook app's camera. That would theoretically open the door for Facebook to host the next phenomenon like "Pokémon Go."
While this announcement seems pretty innocuous, make no mistake — Facebook is once again putting itself into direct competition with Google and Apple, trying to create yet another parallel universe of apps and tools that don't rely on the smartphones' marketplaces. As The New York Times notes, Zuckerberg has long been disappointed that Facebook never built a credible smartphone operating system of its own.
This time, though, Facebook is also declaring war on pretty much everyone else in the tech industry, too. While it'll take at least a decade to fully play out, the stuff Facebook is talking about today is just one more milestone on the slow march toward the death of the smartphone and the rise of even weirder and wilder futures.
Why buy a TV?
Zuckerberg tipped his hand, just a bit, during Tuesday's Facebook F8 keynote. During a demo of the company's vision for augmented reality — in the form of a pair of easy-to-wear, standard-looking glasses — he showed how you could have a virtual "screen" in your living room, bigger than your biggest TV.
"We don't need a physical TV. We can buy a $1 app 'TV' and put it on the wall and watch it," Zuckerberg told USA Today ahead of his keynote. "It's actually pretty amazing when you think about how much of the physical stuff we have doesn't need to be physical."
That makes sense, assuming you're into the idea of wearing a computer on your face (and you're OK with Facebook intermediating everything you see and hear, glitches and all).
But it's not just TVs. This philosophy could extend to smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, fitness trackers, or anything else that has a screen or relies on one to work. Zuckerberg even showed off a street art installation that's just a blank wall until you wave the Facebook camera app over it to reveal a mural.
For Microsoft, which has already dipped its toe in this area with its HoloLens holographic goggles, this is a foregone conclusion. HoloLens boss Alex Kipman recently called the demise of the smartphone the "natural conclusion" of augmented reality and its associated technologies.
War of the worlds
The problem, naturally, is that a huge chunk of the world's economy hinges on the production of phones, TVs, tablets, and all those other things that Facebook thinks could be replaced with this technology.
Even Zuckerberg acknowledges it's a long road ahead. That said, this Camera Effects platform, should it succeed in attracting a bunch of users, could go down as a savvy move. The apps that are built for the Facebook Camera today could wind up as the first versions of the apps you'd use with those glasses.
In the short term, Facebook's play for augmented reality is going to look a lot like competing with Snapchat — and in a meaningful way, it is. Facebook needs developer and user love, so it needs to keep offering fun and funny tools to keep people from moving away from using its apps.
In the long term, though, this is Facebook versus everybody else to usher in an age of a new kind of computing — and pretty much every tech company out there will get caught in the crossfire, as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and more rush out their responses to this extremely existential, but still meaningful, threat.

miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

Marc Porter Stolen Back by Christie’s to Be Chairman Americas After Three-Month Stint at Sotheby’s

Marc Porter Stolen Back by Christie’s to Be Chairman Americas After Three-Month Stint at Sotheby’s

Marc Porter.COURTESY SOTHEBY'S
Marc Porter.
COURTESY SOTHEBY’S
Here’s some serious auction-world-revolving-door news: Just three months after starting his job as chairman of the fine art division at Sotheby’s, Marc Porter will return to Christie’s to be its chairman, Americas, a spokesperson for the house said in an email. Prior to joining Sotheby’s, Porter spent 25 years at Christie’s, holding positions such as chairman and president of the Americas and international head of private sales.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Christie’s in a new role that allows me to work with clients, mentor colleagues and engage with works of art,” Porter said in a statement. “Incubating the talents of all people in the organization and working on large strategic projects has long been my primary interest and I now have an opportunity to do that at the highest level in the art field.”
This is a coup for Christie’s at a time when it needs one. Just last month, CEO Guillaume Cerutti—installed in the chief spot in December after a surprise departure of former CEO and Chairman Patricia Barbizet—announced that his first major move would be to eliminate the South Kensington salesroom in London and lay off up to as many as 250 Christie’s staffer globally. The news came at a time when the postwar and contemporary department was tasked with rebuilding following the departure of its chairman, Brett Gorvy, and when many staffers were defecting for various other positions.
“Marc’s appointment as chairman, Americas complements the changes we made at the board and executive levels late last year and marks a further step in the refinement of our structure as we plan for growth opportunities ahead,” Cerutti said in the statement.
It also represents a remarkably quick turnaround for Porter. After accepting the job at Sotheby’s in December 2015, he had to endure a year off due to the stringent non-compete clauses both houses sew into their big-ticket contracts, ostensibly to dissuade staffers from defecting. He began his blink-and-you-miss-it stint at Sotheby’s in January, for which the house rolled out the red carpet. Instead of a modest press release, there was a lushly designed Q&A with Porter on its website with the headline “The Maestro of the Market: Marc Porter Joins Sotheby’s.
The post was up earlier this morning, but by 11:45 a.m., the same link lead to a notice that said “page not found.” Evidently, the story had been removed from Sothebys.com. A screenshot is below.
Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 11.52.51 AM
After a lengthy year-plus break, the house was ready to pop the champagne to toast the start of what it no doubt hoped would be a long tenure.
“As he embarks on the next phase of his career, at Sotheby’s, this art world maestro took time to reflect on his time off and his general thoughts about the current state of the ever-fascinating art market,” the introduction read.
In the interview, Porter spoke effusively about gardening, a lifelong hobby that occupied him during his required year off, during which time he became a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden. But he did not share his current thoughts on the rival house, which he would end up leaving for just weeks after that interview took place. And this time, a spokesperson said, there is no non-compete, and his start date will be determined imminently.

Cell Biologists Discover Crucial ‘Traffic Regulator’ in Neurons

Cell Biologists Discover Crucial ‘Traffic Regulator’ in Neurons

Summary: Researchers provide a comprehensive map of transport in mammalian axons.
Source: Utrecht University.
First comprehensive map of transport in mammalian axons.
Neurons are the main cells in the nervous system. They process information by sending, receiving, and combining signals from around the brain and the body. All neurons have a cell body where molecules vital for its functioning and maintenance are produced. The axon, a long and slender extension that can reach one metre in length in humans, sends information from the nerve cell to other nerve cells. Neuronal survival is highly dependent on the transport of vital molecules within this axon. Research has shown that defects in the transport function in the axons play a key role in degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer.
First comprehensive map
“Previous research examined transport processes in small areas of the axon, such as the very beginning or the very end. This left it unclear how the movement of molecules through the axon was regulated over long distances. In our study, we provide the first comprehensive map of transport in mammalian axons”, says Casper Hoogenraad, Professor of Cell Biology at Utrecht University, explaining the relevance of this study.
Stumped
In most neurons, an area between the cell body and the axon called the ‘axon initial segment’ serves as a checkpoint: only some molecules can pass through it. This area has stumped scientists for more than a decade. Why should one type of molecule be able to pass through this area, while others cannot? The answer is to be found in the traffic regulator, a protein called MAP2. “With this discovery, we have answered a fundamental question about the unique functioning of nerve cells that has occupied scientists for a long time”, lead author of the study Dr Laura Gumy says.
Driving force
The cell biologists from Utrecht first discovered that larger quantities of MAP2 accumulate between the cell body and the axon. When they removed MAP2 from the neuron, the normal pattern of molecule movement changed. Certain molecules suddenly ceased to enter the axon, whereas others accumulated in the axon instead of passing through to the cell body. This abnormal transport indicates that MAP2 is the driving force behind transport within the axon.
Image shows neurons.
In most neurons, an area between the cell body and the axon called the ‘axon initial segment’ serves as a checkpoint: only some molecules can pass through it. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.
Car key
The cell biologists from Utrecht University went on to make another very important discovery. Since axons are so long, transport in the neurons is carried out by sets of proteins – known as ‘motor proteins’ – that carry packages of other proteins on their back. As it turns out, MAP2 is able to switch a specific ‘motor protein’ on or off, like a car key. This means that MAP2 actually controls which packages of molecules may enter the axon and which may not. Targeting the activity of the transport engine allowed the researchers to make another interesting discovery: MAP2 is also able to control the delivery of molecules at specific points along the axon.
New targets for therapies
“Transport within axons has been shown to fail in Alzheimer, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, as well as in many other diseases. When the neuron is no longer able to control where molecules go, or is unable to get molecules to where they need to be, it cannot do its job. By understanding how transport works, we have laid the foundation for considering new targets and potential therapies for various neurodegenerative disorders”, Casper Hoogenraad concludes.
About this neuroscience research article
Source: Monica van der Garde – Utrecht University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “MAP2 Defines a Pre-axonal Filtering Zone to Regulate KIF1- versus KIF5-Dependent Cargo Transport in Sensory Neurons” by Laura F. Gumy, Eugene A. Katrukha, Ilya Grigoriev, Dick Jaarsma, Lukas C. Kapitein, Anna Akhmanova, and Casper C. Hoogenraad in Neuron. Published online April 19 2017 doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.046
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
Utrecht University “Cell Biologists Discover Crucial ‘Traffic Regulator’ in Neurons.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 19 April 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/neurons-regulator-6446/>.

Abstract
MAP2 Defines a Pre-axonal Filtering Zone to Regulate KIF1- versus KIF5-Dependent Cargo Transport in Sensory Neurons
Highlights
•MAP2 defines a unique pre-axonal cargo filtering zone in sensory neurons
•MAP2 regulates axonal cargo entry by preventing KIF5 binding to microtubules
•MAP2 promotes axonal cargo spreading by balancing KIF1 and KIF5 motor activities
•MAP2 controls the axonal growth potential of sensory neurons

Summary

Polarized cargo transport is essential for neuronal function. However, the minimal basic components required for selective cargo sorting and distribution in neurons remain elusive. We found that in sensory neurons the axon initial segment is largely absent and that microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) defines the cargo-filtering zone in the proximal axon. Here, MAP2 directs axonal cargo entry by coordinating the activities of molecular motors. We show that distinct kinesins differentially regulate cargo velocity: kinesin-3 drives fast axonal cargo trafficking, while kinesin-1 slows down axonal cargo transport. MAP2 inhibits “slow” kinesin-1 motor activity and allows kinesin-3 to drive robust cargo transport from the soma into the axon. In the distal axon, the inhibitory action of MAP2 decreases, leading to regained kinesin-1 activity and vesicle distribution. We propose that selective axonal cargo trafficking requires the MAP2-defined pre-axonal filtering zone and the ability of cargos to switch between distinct kinesin motor activities.
“MAP2 Defines a Pre-axonal Filtering Zone to Regulate KIF1- versus KIF5-Dependent Cargo Transport in Sensory Neurons” by Laura F. Gumy, Eugene A. Katrukha, Ilya Grigoriev, Dick Jaarsma, Lukas C. Kapitein, Anna Akhmanova, and Casper C. Hoogenraad in Neuron. Published online April 19 2017 doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.046