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Resembling little more than a credit card-sized scrap of exposed circuit board, the RPi is a fully programmable PC that runs a free, open-source Linux operating system, plugs into any TV, can power 3D graphics, connects to the Internet and, with a little ingenuity, be used to create your own personalized robot slave.

The computer's miniature frame is crowded with two USB ports, an SD card slot, an Ethernet connection and microchip in the middle -- all powered by a universal USB mobile charger.

Not only is it the world's smallest personal computer but, perhaps most importantly of all, at just $25 the RPi is also the world's cheapest.

Eben Upton, the UK-based University of Cambridge professor and inventor behind the wallet-friendly PC, says he set out to create a computer so affordable that every child in Britain could have one.

With its rough-around-the-edges aesthetic, however, he didn't expect it to catch on very fast and, in the early days of development, set a sales target of 10,000 units within his lifetime.

But when the RPi launched in February of this year, demand far outran supply, and all 10,000 sold out immediately -- crashing the distributing websites in the process.

It turned out there was a voracious appetite -- particularly among a growing class of DIY geeks -- for a cheap, easily-programmable, open-source piece of hardware that would allow them to let their imaginations run wild.

The RPi has since be used to power everything from home-made jukeboxes to baby monitors to miniature near-space crafts and digital weather-stations.

Now, far exceeding its inventor's original estimates, the RPi is set to sell as a million units within its first year of availability.

In a revealing interview with CNN, Upton tells all about why everyone wants a slice of Raspberry Pi.

CNN: What inspired you to invent the Raspberry Pi?

Eben Upton: A group of us here at the University of Cambridge were involved in trying to find 17, 18-year-olds to come and study computer science and what we found every year was a reduction in the numbers.

We went from 500 people in the 1990s applying for our 80 places, down to under 250 and, worse than that, the sorts of things those children knew how to do when they came in the door were much less impressive.

Really Raspberry Pi is an attempt to try and reboot some of that 1980s computer industry feel that had been responsible for giving us this stream of very talented students.

CNN: What in your view are the Pi's most distinguishing qualities?

EU: I think we really have to say the big, distinct feature about Raspberry Pi is the cost. This is a device that comes in two variants, one that cost $25 and one that costs $35.

These are designed to be the same price as a textbook; they're designed to be cheap enough that a child can buy on with their pocket money. They're designed to be cheap enough that you could equip a whole classroom for under a $1000. So, really the cheapness.

Almost everything you can do with a Raspberry Pi, you can do with a conventional PC, but you'd be doing it at 10 times the cost.

CNN: Did you have any idea what kind of response you'd get?

EU: Absolutely not, I think the response has been staggering. Even a year ago we were thinking of this shifting 10,000 units over a lifetime.

All we wanted was a few hundred more students -- or for the students we were getting to have had a little more experience when they came to the door.

CNN: What was your own reaction when you heard how many you'd sold on the first day?

EU: Terror, I guess. When you've scaled everything for a particular size and then you discover you have this enormous spike of demand, then you're always going to wonder if you can fill it. And there were big queues, there were back orders for months after that as we and our partners worked very hard to try and scale out production.

CNN: You set out to sell primarily to schools for use by children in class, who's it actually being bought by?

EU: Until September, it was being bought almost entirely by people like me -- technically literate adults who wanted to use it to do interesting projects. You know this is something you can plug your television into and play videos on; it's got stuff you can use to control a robot. For people like me this is gold dust.

From September onwards we've started to see a swing round towards what we were hoping for, which is educational engagement -- individual children buying them and schools buying classroom sets of them.

CNN: Any other surprise takers?

EU: We're also starting to see some industrial applications. We're seeing people who have been buying $300 industrial computers saying "hang on a second, why am I buying this special purpose computer when I can buy one of these. It does the same thing, it runs units. My software engineers can be very comfortable with it, why don't I just switch over to these?"

Another really interesting one that I should have anticipated was of course the developing world. These make very good entry-level productivity computers for the developing world, so we're starting to see an interest there as well.

CNN: How are you able to sell it so cheaply?

EU: One of things that allows us to hit our very low price point is that we have a very high level of integration -- there's just not that much stuff on the board. All of the main features are integrated onto the chip in the middle. It's our central processor and also our graphic processor that drives the display and does some of our peripheral functions, so that's the main chip.

CNN: Do you remember the first time you took it into a school and what kind of reaction you got?

EU: We were really surprised by the reaction we got. School kids today are used to their tablets and their mobile phones, so we thought we were going to have to put into a shiny box.

But one of the biggest reactions from the children was because they could actually see it and point to it and tell what the different bits do. Normally you don't get to see the green stuff and they really love that, there's been such a positive response.

Author: Nick Glass - Source: CNN

 

Un studiu recent arata ca trimiterea unui mesaj de pe telefonul mobil în timpul traversarii unui drum este cea mai riscanta activitate, sansele fiind de patru ori mai mari ca oamenii sa ignore astfel traficul si luminile. De asemenea, din cauza sms-urilor traversarea unei intersectii aglomerate dureaza mai mult timp.

Un trecator din trei foloseste telefonul sau face ceva care îi distrage atentia atunci când travereseaza un drum.

La studiu au participat 1.000 de pietoni care au fost urmariti în mai multe intersectii aglomerate din Seattle la ore diferite. Cercetatorii au urmarit activitatile care distrag atentia cum ar fi vorbitul la telefon, trimiterea sms-urilor, ascultarea muzicii la casti si conversatiile cu alte persoane. Astfel, un pieton din 10 asculta muzica, 7% trimiteau mesaje si 6% vorbeau la telefon. Trimiterea sms-urilor este cea mai periculoasa activitate pentru ca trecatorii ignora luminile si înainte de a traversa nu se uita în ambele sensuri, putând aparea astfel accidente grave.

Conducatoarea studiului, Beth Ebel, a spus ca oamenii intra în transa atunci când folosec pe strada telefoanele mobile sau când asculta muzica la casti, aceasta stare fiind numita de psihologi "atentie divizata" sau "orbire". Mai multe studii au aratat ca accidentele în care sunt implicate persoanele care asculta muzica la casti pe strada s-au triplat.

Sursa: jurnalul.ro

 

Quite easy, according to data scientist Nick Berry, founder of Data Genetics, a Seattle technology consultancy.

Berry analyzed passwords from previously released and exposed tables and security breaches, filtering the results to just those that were exactly four digits long [0-9]. There are 10,000 possible combinations that the digits 0-9 can be arranged into to form a four-digit code. Berry analyzed those to find which are the least and most predictable. He speculates that, if users select a four-digit password for an online account or other web site, it's not a stretch to use the same number for their four-digit bank PIN codes.

What he found, he says, was a "staggering lack of imagination" when it comes to selecting passwords. Nearly 11% of the 3.4 million four-digit passwords he analyzed were 1234. The second most popular PIN in is 1111 (6% of passwords), followed by 0000 (2%). (Last year SplashData compiled a list of the most common numerical and word-based passwords and found that "password" and "123456" topped the list.)

Berry says a whopping 26.83% of all passwords could be guessed by attempting just 20 combinations of four-digit numbers (see first table). "It's amazing how predictable people are," he says.
We don't like hard-to-remember numbers and "no one thinks their wallet will get stolen," Berry says.

Days, Months, Years

Many of the commonly used passwords are, of course, dates: birthdays, anniversaries, year of birth, etc. Indeed, using a year, starting with 19__, helps people remember their code, but it also increases its predictability, Berry says. His analysis shows that every single 19__ combination be found in the top 20% of the dataset.

"People use years, date of birth — it's a monumentally stupid thing to do because, if you lose your wallet, your driver's license is in there. If someone finds it, they've got the date of birth on there. At least use a parent's date of birth [as a password]," says Berry.
Somewhat intriguing was #22 on the most common password list: 2580. It seems random, but if you look at a telephone keypad (or ATM keypad), you'll see those numbers are straight down the middle — yet another sign that we're uncreative and lazy password makers.

The Least Predictable Password

The least-used PIN is 8068, Berry found, with just 25 occurrences in the 3.4 million set, which equates to 0.000744%. (See the second table for the least popular passwords.) Why this set of numbers? Berry guesses, "It's not a repeating pattern, it's not a birthday, it's not the year Columbus discovered America, it's not 1776." At a certain point, these numbers at the bottom of the list are all kind of "the lowest of the low, they're all noise," he says.

A few other interesting tidbits from Berry:

-The most popular PIN code (1234) is used more than the lowest 4,200 codes combined.
- People have even less imagination in choosing five-digit passwords — 28% use 12345.
- The fourth most popular seven-digit password is 8675309, inspired by the Tommy Tutone song.
-People love using couplets for their PINs: 4545, 1313, etc. And for some reason, they don't like using pairs of numbers that have larger numerical gaps between them. Combinations like 45 and 67 occur much more frequently than 29 and 37.
- The 17th most common 10-digit password is 3141592654 (for those of you who are not math nerds, those are the first digits of Pi).

Source: yahoo.com - Author: Lisa Scherzer

 
By Admin (from 04/01/2013 @ 03:05:14, in en - Science and Society, read 424 times)

If I told you there was a plant available to us today that could be grown in pretty much any soil, requires no pesticides and it takes very little maintenance to grow, and this magical plant could be used for a very large number of necessities and goods we use today yet we don’t use it, would you think to yourself “Joe you must be high or on some other cheap drug?”

Well potential naysayers out there, I’m not high nor do I get high, but let me tell you, there is a plant available right now and it is often mistaken to be marijuana but has capabilities that are beyond what you could imagine. It’s called Hemp. Right off the top, Hemp looks very much like marijuana but unlike maryjane, it does not contain anywhere near the amount of THC needed for someone to get high if they tried to smoke it. Funny thing is, in the United States, Hemp is just as illegal to grow as Marijuana is. How can this be? The plant doesn’t even provide THC to get high and yet it’s still illegal? Yes…

Hemp used to be used for many things. Clothes, cars, plastics, building materials, rope, paper, linens, food, medicine and so on. In fact, it used to be mandatory in the United States for farmers to grow hemp if they had the land. There are plenty more stats regarding hemp you can find here.

The fact is Hemp was very popular throughout the 1800’s and 1900’since it was incredibly useful for so many reasons. But one day that all changed, and now it is illegal.. so how did this happen?

The History

During Hoover’s presidency, Andrew Mellon became Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont’s primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Secret meetings were held by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. This then lead these men to take an obscure Mexican slang word: ‘marihuana’ and push it into the consciousness of America to demonize hemp.

Not long after this plan was set in place, the media began a blitz of  ‘yellow journalism’ in the late 1920s and 1930s. Yellow journalism is essentially journalism where stories with catchy headlines are put into the mainstream media to get attention yet these stories are not well researched or backed up. They are often used simply to create public opinion. Many newspapers were pumping stories emphasizing the horrors and dangers of marihuana. The “menace” of marihuana made headlines everywhere. Readers learned that it was responsible for everything from car accidents to loosing morality and it wasn’t long before public opinion started to shape.

Next came several films like ‘Reefer Madness’ (1936), ‘Marihuana: Assassin of Youth’ (1935) and ‘Marihuana: The Devil’s Weed’ (1936) which were all propaganda films designed by these industrialists to create an enemy out of marihuana. Reefer Madness was possibly the most interesting of the films as it depicted a man going crazy from smoking marijuana and then murdering his family with an ax. With all of these films, the goal was to gain public support so that anti-marihuana laws could be passed without objection.

Have a look at the following regarding marihuana from ‘The Burning Question’ aka Reefer Madness:

  • a violent narcotic.
  • acts of shocking violence.
  • incurable insanity.
  • soul-destroying effects.
  • under the influence of the drug he killed his entire family with an ax.
  • more vicious, more deadly even than these soul-destroying drugs (heroin, cocaine) is the menace of marihuana!

Unlike most films with a simple ending, Reefer Madness ended with bold words on the screen: TELL YOUR CHILDREN.

In the 1930s, things were different than today. The population did not question things very much. They did not have tools like the Internet to quickly spread information and learn about things that were happening. Most built their opinions and beliefs off of the news via print or the radio. As a result and what was instructed by mainstream news, many people did tell their children about marihuana and thus shaping a strong public opinion about it.

On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law or the bill that outlawed hemp was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. Simply put, this committee is the only one that could introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. At the time, the Chairman of the Ways and Means was Robert Doughton who was a Dupont supporter. With vested interest, he insured that the bill would pass Congress.

In an attempt to stop the bill from being passed, Dr. James Woodward, a physician and attorney, attempted to testify on behalf of the American Medical Association. He mentioned that the reason the AMA had not denounced the Marihuana Tax Law sooner was that the Association had just discovered that marihuana was hemp. Or at least a strain of it. Hemp and Marijuana are both varieties of Cannabis sativa, but this distinction was purposely not made well known to the public. Since the law was not so much focused on banning one or the other, both found their way into the ban. The AMA recognized cannabis/marihuana as a medicine found in numerous healing products sold and used for quite some time. The AMA like many other’s did not realize that the deadly menace they had been reading about in the media was in fact hemp.

In September of 1937, hemp prohibition began. Arguably the most useful plant known to man has became illegal to grow and use both in its non THC strain and THC strain called marihuana. To this day, this plant is still illegal to grow in the United States.

To the public, Congress banned hemp because it was said to be a violent and dangerous drug. In reality, Hemp does nothing more than act as an amazing resource to virtually any industry and any product. As you can imagine, this was also a big reason for the ban of Hemp as it was a serious threat to many of the big industries out there. At the time is was mainly plastics, oil and paper.

Here we are in modern day times and it is clear we are in some trouble when it comes to how we treat our environment. The resources and practices we use today for energy as well as rpodtuce creation is very harmful and toxic to not just our planet but ourselves also. Despite the full awareness that exists surrounding hemp as an option to transform how things can be done on this planet, governments continue to have the plant banned and it is still often mistook for marihuana due to how it looks.

Sources: http://www.hempfarm.org/Papers/Hemp_Facts.html & http://www.hempcar.org/hempfacts.shtml via collective-evolution.com

 

You are about to be bombarded with endless messages to “get vaccinated!” They’re even starting to lay a guilt trip on those who refuse vaccinations, illogically claiming that your lack of a vaccine somehow causes other people who are already vaccinated to catch the flu. Yeah, I know, it makes no sense, but then again the entire vaccine industry is based on the same fantasy logic as unicorns, fairies, leprechauns and garden gnomes.

And, for the record, all the healthiest people walking around who don’t catch the flu are the ones who refuse flu shots while taking care of their immune system. It’s the vaccinated people who always seem to be sick for one reason or another, have you noticed?

In any case, it’s important to find ways to boost your immune system and shield yourself from colds and the flu without resorting to jabbing yourself in the arm with a cocktail of mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum and MSG. Oh yes, all those things are found in vaccines, according to the CDC.

In fact, if you really like shooting up with brain-damaging mercury and essentially giving yourself a chemical lobotomy, just take more vaccines! It’s the only legal way to inject these chemicals into your body where they will quickly enter your bloodstream and be delivered right to your brain!

So to avoid all that, here’s my list of the top 20 ways to boost your immune system without resorting to deadly vaccines and all the toxic additives they contain.

The top 20 ways to boost your immunity to colds and flu without using a vaccine:

1) Take a vitamin D supplement every day. Check our Vitamin D guide for details about choosing the proper dosage.

2) Get as much sunlight as you can for as late into the year as you can manage. Even getting sunlight on just your face helps produce more vitamin D in your body.

3) Drink immune-boost beverages like organic Cocoa Mojo, which contains a blend of 4 medicinal mushrooms. And it tastes like a delicious hot chocolate!

4) Use a high-quality air filter in your home to filter out bacteria and mold spores that may be circulating inside your home.

5) Get regular exercise to boost your circulation and immune strength. This exercise should be frequent and moderate. Do not over-stress yourself at the gym, or your immune system will be temporarily compromised.

6) Take supplements especially designed to protect your respiratory tract. These include Lomatium, Osha, Elderberry and more. You’ll find many of these in the herbal medicine cabinets offered at the NaturalNews Store.

7) Take measures to minimize your exposure to immune-damaging chemicals such as those you’ll find in laundry products, cosmetics, personal care products and fragrance products. The artificial fragrance chemicals found in most of these products are carcinogenic and cause liver damage.

8) Get off all medications that you can safely eliminate! Work with a naturopath to accomplish this, of course, as quitting medications cold turkey can also be dangerous. Most medications suppress your immune system, liver function, kidney function and even your reproductive function.

9) Eat more meals that are rich in pungent spices. Eat more curry, which is rich in turmeric. Eat more ginger. Eat more cilantro, rosemary, thyme and other rich spices. This includes cloves and nutmeg, two spices you’ll typically find in eggnog drinks. These spices boost immune function and taste great, too!

10) Clean up your diet. If you’re eating cheese and drinking processed milk, those substances are to be avoided during the winter influenza season, especially. In many people, cheese and dairy products tend to cause sinus stuffiness, which is really a lack of sinus circulation. This can make you more susceptible to physically catching and harboring a virus floating around.

11) Boost your trace minerals intake, especially zinc. Both zinc and selenium are hugely important for immune function. Zinc is especially well known for functioning as a shield support against many viral attacks. One of the best ways to boost your trace minerals intake is to switch to a natural sea salt or a high-mineral salt.

12) Move your lymph! Rebounders (mini trampolines) are great for this purpose. Jumping rope also works, as does just hopping in place for a few minutes each day. You can also do arm rotations and other simple movements to keep your lymph circulating. Lymph movement is crucial for immunity.

13) Take immune-protective herbal tinctures such as goldenseal, garlic, echinacea, osha root and elderberry. All of these herbs are found in the Enerfood Herbal Medicine Cabinet – intermediate. We also have a “basic” and “advanced” kit available.

14) While you’re at it, wash your hands more frequently. Many of the infections we receive during the flu season come from us touching contaminated surfaces and then touching our eyes, nose or mouth. The simple act of washing your hands can dramatically cut down on viral infections.

15) At the same time, demand high levels of hygiene by those around you. Ask them to wash their hands, for example. Ask them to boost their immunity with herbs, nutrients and supplements that really work. In fact, when others fail to boost their immune systems, it’s actually highly irresponsible on their part. Merely relying on a vaccine is actually putting other people at risk, since vaccines don’t work 99 times out of 100.

16) Have an emergency supply of colloidal silver available. Not only do you want the liquid colloidal silver, you may also want to consider an inhalable form of silver like what you’ll find in the Silver Lungs product. At the Natural News Store, we currently carry GHC’s colloidal silver product called Silver Fuzion, and we’ll soon be carrying Sovereign Silver products.

17) Get plenty of sleep. A lack of sleep compromises the immune system.

18) Reduce your levels of chronic stress, if possible. Stress also compromises your immune system, and it even “uses up” nutrients in your body, leaving you nutritionally depleted.

19) Drink more “live” vegetable juice. If that sounds too cold, make yourself some warm but raw vegetable soups. Search online for recipes. My favorites include a raw avocado soup recipe using red peppers, to which I add some Tobasco sauce. You make these soups in a blender like the Vita-Mix.

20) Laugh a little! Watch some comedy movies, or spend some fun time with family and friends. Laughter boosts immune function at many levels. It’s good for your body and your mental health. Find creative ways to expose yourself to comical situations and you’ll benefit as a result.

Source: NaturalNews.com via truththeory.com - Author: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

 

Researchers used text messaging to build up a map of what activities people routinely rated as bringing the most and least happiness to their daily lives and found that sex ranked first in all three categories measured in the survey: Pleasure, meaning and engagement.

Drinking alcohol or partying came second in terms of pleasure but only 10th in terms of meaning, the Daily Mail reported.

Using Facebook and doing housework both ranked low on the happiness scale, according to the study compiled by Carsten Grimm from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Feeling sick was lowest rated in terms of pleasure, it revealed.

Grimm used mobile-phone text-messaging to collect data on what people did during the day and how they felt about it, a technique called 'experience sampling'.

“Those who tend to be high on all three orientations to happiness not only score high on life satisfaction, they also tend to have higher experiences of pleasure, meaning, engagement and happiness in their daily lives. This means that being able to seek happiness in different ways may enrich your everyday experience and increase your overall well-being,” he said.

Top-ranked activities according to the survey:

1: Sex

2: Drinking alcohol

3: Volunteering

4: Meditating/religion

5: Caring for children

6: Listening to music

7: Socialising

8: Hobbies

9: Shopping

10: Gaming

Worst-ranked activities are:

1: Recovering from sicknes

2: Facebook

3: Housework

4: Studying

5: Texting

6: Going to lecture

7: Paid work

8: Commuting

9: Computer work

10: Washing

Source: dnaindia.com via msn.com

 

Tre mesi dopo veniva ucciso durante la sua campagna elettorale che lo avrebbe probabilmente portato a divenire Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5QKEyjtJwZI/TCXAqBIGdtI/AAAAAAAAAiY/aL2KucUs4z0/s320/robert+kennedy.jpg

Non troveremo mai un fine per la nazione né una nostra personale soddisfazione nel mero perseguimento del benessere economico, nell'ammassare senza fine beni terreni.

Non possiamo misurare lo spirito nazionale sulla base dell'indice Dow-Jones, nè i successi del paese sulla base del Prodotto Interno Lordo.

Il PIL comprende anche l'inquinamento dell'aria e la pubblicità delle sigarette, e le ambulanze per sgombrare le nostre autostrade dalle carneficine dei fine-settimana.

Il PIL mette nel conto le serrature speciali per le nostre porte di casa, e le prigioni per coloro che cercano di forzarle. Comprende programmi televisivi che valorizzano la violenza per vendere prodotti violenti ai nostri bambini. Cresce con la produzione di napalm, missili e testate nucleari, comprende anche la ricerca per migliorare la disseminazione della peste bubbonica, si accresce con gli equipaggiamenti che la polizia usa per sedare le rivolte, e non fa che aumentare quando sulle loro ceneri si ricostruiscono i bassifondi popolari.

Il PIL non tiene conto della salute delle nostre famiglie, della qualità della loro educazione o della gioia dei loro momenti di svago. Non comprende la bellezza della nostra poesia o la solidità dei valori familiari, l'intelligenza del nostro dibattere o l'onestà dei nostri pubblici dipendenti. Non tiene conto né della giustizia nei nostri tribunali, né dell'equità nei rapporti fra di noi.

Il PIL non misura né la nostra arguzia né il nostro coraggio, né la nostra saggezza né la nostra conoscenza, né la nostra compassione né la devozione al nostro paese. Misura tutto, in breve, eccetto ciò che rende la vita veramente degna di essere vissuta.

Può dirci tutto sull'America, ma non se possiamo essere orgogliosi di essere americani.

Robert Kennedy

Fonte: plcamagni.it

 

Scientists have discovered that a powerful chemical component of the illegal drug can regulate blood glucose levels.

The pill’s makers say the potential new treatment has shown “promising results” and could become a major new weapon in the fight against Type-2 diabetes.

A simple pill to tackle the condition will be welcomed by the millions already struck down by the illness.

Although the condition can be turned if people adopt simple lifestyle changes to help them lose weight, a revolutionary new treatment could help the thousands of patients who do not respond to the commonly used drug,
metformin.

Type-2 diabetes patients suffer from lack of insulin, the hormone which helps to control blood sugar levels.

While some can treat the Type-2 illness by making changes to diet, others have to take metformin.

However, this drug can become ineffective in the long term for many patients.

Usually, patients who do not respond to metformin alone are offered other drugs as well.

But these can lead to low blood sugar levels and weight gain putting patients at increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Now, drug maker GW Pharmaceuticals has reported results from a phase two study which has shown its cannabis-based drug, known as GWP42004, has potential as a new treatment for Type-2 diabetes.

The study looked at a number of significant outcomes of the treatment in patients with the condition and showed consistent evidence of anti-diabetic effects.

Dr Garry Tan, consultant physician at NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, and the study’s principal investigator, said: “The positive findings from this
early stage exploratory study are very encouraging.

“If larger studies confirm these findings, GWP42004 would have the potential to offer a treatment option within one of the largest therapeutic areas where there still exist serious unmet medical needs.”

Source: Express.co.uk - Author: Jo Willey

 

By the looks of their home, Tony and Christine Clark are raising two rambunctious 7-year-old boys. Model train tracks and Monopoly pieces are scattered on tables and cartoons flicker on the TV set.

But the Clarks' two sons are grown men who share only the same interests and emotional fluctuations of little boys. Like the character portrayed by Brad Pitt in the 2008 film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons," Matthew, 39, and Michael, 42, are aging backwards.

Diagnosed with a terminal form of leukodystrophy, one of a group of extremely rare genetic disorders that attack the Myelin, or white matter, in the nervous system, spinal cord, and brain. In the Clarks' case, the condition has not only eroded their physical capacities, but their emotional and mental states as well.
Only six years ago, both brothers were holding down jobs and growing their families. Today, they spend their days in the care of their parents, both in their sixties, playing with Mr. Potato Head, fighting over Monopoly, and in rare lucid moments, struggling to understand why their lives have changed so dramatically.

Before the Clark Brothers were diagnosed, they were living independent lives. Michael served in the Royal Air Force and later became a cabinet maker. Matthew worked in a factory and was raising a teenage daughter. Tony and Christine, meanwhile, had retired and moved from the UK to Spain. Then in 2007, both of their sons fell off the radar. They stopped returning their parents' calls and texts, and as the Clark brothers' conditions developed, their lives fell apart.

Should parents get their kids' genome sequenced?

Michael surfaced in a soup kitchen, and was referred to medical experts by social workers. After an MRI scan, he was diagnosed with the incurable degenerative disorder. Soon after Matthew received the same news. In the U.S. alone, about 1 in 40,000 children are born with a form of the neurodegenerative disease, according to Dr. William Kintner, President of the United Leukodystrophy Foundation. While some forms of the disorder are potentially treatable if discovered in the earliest stages and not all cause an emotional regression, the brothers are unlikely to be cured. "It's very difficult to do anything once progression has occurred," Dr. Kintner tells Yahoo! Shine.

With their train set.(Courtesy of Channel4)

As of April, when the Clarks were first written about in the British press, their mental age was 10.
"We will be out walking and things which might interest a toddler interest them, the other day we were walking home when Michael saw a balloon and pointed it out to us," father Tony Clark, told The Telegraph last spring.
Today, the brothers are even younger mentally.
"Just like small children, they wake up a lot during the night," mom Christine said in an interview published in The Independent this week. "I was up seven times with them last night."
After learning of their diagnoses, Tony and Christine returned to the UK and moved in with their sons. Their daily struggles as a family have been chronicled in a British documentary, "The Curious Case of the Clark Brothers," airing Monday in the UK.

Earlier this year, Matthew became a grandfather, when his daughter had a son. But the news for the family was bittersweet, as the Clark brothers' mental age continued to creep backwards.
"There's no return to them being cute little boys," said Christine, who regularly manages their tantrums and fights over Monopoly. "They're big strong men—and that presents a quite different set of problems."
More recently, even their physical strength began deteriorating.
"A few weeks ago, they could still manage with a knife and fork, but now that's getting too difficult for them—they get the food onto their forks, but somehow it all falls off before it reaches their mouths," she said.

Donors and genetic disorders: how much do you know?

Now walking is the next hurdle; Matthew is already confined to a wheelchair.

"The likelihood that they're on a terminal course is fairly certain, but who knows?" says Dr. Kintner, who is familiar with the Clark case but didn't meet the brothers. "If they were citizens of U.S., we'd try to get them to the National Institute of Health for diagnostic work, but in the UK the system is different. There is no comparable organization with genetic diseases, so it's a little more difficult there."

Dr. Kintner estimates there are several million cases of one of the estimated 40 types of leukodystrophies in the U.S., but an exact number is hard to pinpoint. The different forms of the disorder are still being identified and tests for each known type are still being developed. "It's going to take a long time," says Dr. Kintner. "I hope in my lifetime I see a cure for some of them."


A preview for the British documentary on the Clark Brothers airing on the UK's Channel 4.

Source: yahoo.com

 

Is the human species doomed to intellectual decline? Will our intelligence ebb away in centuries to come leaving our descendants incapable of using the technology their ancestors invented? In short: will Homo be left without his sapiens?

This is the controversial hypothesis of a leading geneticist who believes that the immense capacity of the human brain to learn new tricks is under attack from an array of genetic mutations that have accumulated since people started living in cities a few thousand years ago.

Professor Gerald Crabtree, who heads a genetics laboratory at Stanford University in California, has put forward the iconoclastic idea that rather than getting cleverer, human intelligence peaked several thousand years ago and from then on there has been a slow decline in our intellectual and emotional abilities.

Although we are now surrounded by the technological and medical benefits of a scientific revolution, these have masked an underlying decline in brain power which is set to continue into the future leading to the ultimate dumbing-down of the human species, Professor Crabtree said.

His argument is based on the fact that for more than 99 per cent of human evolutionary history, we have lived as hunter-gatherer communities surviving on our wits, leading to big-brained humans. Since the invention of agriculture and cities, however, natural selection on our intellect has effective stopped and mutations have accumulated in the critical “intelligence” genes.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas and a clear-sighted view of important issues,” Professor Crabtree says in a provocative paper published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

“Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2,000 to 6,000 years ago,” Professor Crabtree says.

“The basis for my wager comes from new developments in genetics, anthropology, and neurobiology that make a clear prediction that our intellectual and emotional abilities are genetically surprisingly fragile,” he says.

A comparison of the genomes of parents and children has revealed that on average there are between 25 and 65 new mutations occurring in the DNA of each generation. Professor Crabtree says that this analysis predicts about 5,000 new mutations in the past 120 generations, which covers a span of about 3,000 years.

Some of these mutations, he suggests, will occur within the 2,000 to 5,000 genes that are involved in human intellectual ability, for instance by building and mapping the billions of nerve cells of the brain or producing the dozens of chemical neurotransmitters that control the junctions between these brain cells.

Life as a hunter-gatherer was probably more intellectually demanding than widely supposed, he says. “A hunter-gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his or her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate,” Professor Crabtree says.

However, other scientists remain sceptical. “At first sight this is a classic case of Arts Faculty science. Never mind the hypothesis, give me the data, and there aren’t any,” said Professor Steve Jones, a geneticist at University College London.

“I could just as well argue that mutations have reduced our aggression, our depression and our penis length but no journal would publish that. Why do they publish this?” Professor Jones said.

“I am an advocate of Gradgrind science – facts, facts and more facts; but we need ideas too, and this is an ideas paper although I have no idea how the idea could be tested,” he said.

THE DESCENT OF MAN

Hunter-gatherer man

The human brain and its immense capacity for knowledge evolved during this long period of prehistory when we battled against the elements

Athenian man

The invention of agriculture less than 10,000 years ago and the subsequent rise of cities such as Athens relaxed the intensive natural selection of our “intelligence genes”.

Couch-potato man

As genetic mutations increase over future generations, are we doomed to watching  soap-opera repeats without knowing how to use the TV remote control?

iPad man

The fruits of science and technology enabled humans to rise above the constraints of nature and cushioned our fragile intellect from genetic mutations.

Source: independent.co.uk

 

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12/09/2014 @ 22:32:48
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