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Graphene may help speed up DNA sequencing

first_imgResearchers from Harvard University and MIT have demonstrated that graphene, a surprisingly robust planar sheet of carbon just one-atom thick, can act as an artificial membrane separating two liquid reservoirs.Their findings were reported this month in Nature.By drilling a tiny pore just a few nanometers in diameter, called a nanopore, in the graphene membrane, the researchers were able to measure exchange of ions through the pore and demonstrate that a long DNA molecule can be pulled through the graphene nanopore just as a thread is pulled through the eye of a needle.“By measuring the flow of ions passing through a nanopore drilled in graphene we have demonstrated that the thickness of graphene immersed in liquid is less then 1 nm thick, or many times thinner than the very thin membrane which separates a single animal or human cell from its surrounding environment,” says lead author Slaven Garaj, a physics research associate at Harvard. “This makes graphene the thinnest membrane able to separate two liquid compartments from each other. The thickness of the membrane was determined by its interaction with water molecules and ions.”Graphene, the strongest material known, has other advantages. Most importantly, it is electrically conductive. (Update: On Oct. 5, Russian scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov received the Nobel Prize in physics for their work investigating the properties of graphene. “Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again,” the Royal Swedish Academy said in its announcement statement.)“Although the membrane prevents ions and water from flowing through it, the graphene membrane can attract different ions and other chemicals to its two atomically close surfaces. This affects graphene’s electrical conductivity and could be used for chemical sensing,” says co-author Jene Golovchenko, the Rumford Professor of Physics and Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard, whose pioneering work started the field of artificial nanopores in solid-state membranes. “I believe the atomic thickness of the graphene makes it a novel electrical device that will offer new insights into the physics of surface processes and lead to a wide range of practical application, including chemical sensing and detection of single molecules.”In recent years graphene has astonished the scientific community with its many unique properties and potential applications, ranging from electronics and solar energy research to medical applications.Jing Kong, also a co-author on the paper, and her colleagues at MIT first developed a method for the large-scale growth of graphene films that was used in the work.The graphene was stretched over a silicon-based frame, and inserted between two separate liquid reservoirs. An electrical voltage applied between the reservoirs pushed the ions towards the graphene membrane. When a nanopore was drilled through the membrane, this voltage channeled the flow of ions through the pore and registered as an electrical current signal.When the researchers added long DNA chains in the liquid, they were electrically pulled one by one through the graphene nanopore. As the DNA molecule threaded the nanopore, it blocked the flow of ions, resulting in a characteristic electrical signal that reflects the size and conformation of the DNA molecule.Co-author Daniel Branton, the Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus at Harvard, is one of the researches who, more than a decade ago, initiated the use of nanopores in artificial membranes to detect and characterize single molecules of DNA.Together with his colleague David Deamer at the University of California, Branton suggested that nanopores might be used to quickly read the genetic code, much as one reads the data from a  ticker-tape machine.As a DNA chain passes through the nanopore, the nucleobases, which are the letters of the genetic code, can be identified. But a nanopore in graphene is the first nanopore short enough to distinguish between two closely neighboring nucleobases.Several challenges still remain before a nanopore can do such reading, including controlling the speed with which DNA threads through the nanopore. When achieved, nanopore sequencing could lead to very inexpensive and rapid DNA sequencing.“We were the first to demonstrate DNA translocation through a truly atomically thin membrane. The unique thickness of the graphene might bring the dream of  truly inexpensive sequencing closer to reality. The research to come will be very exciting,” concludes Branton.Additional co-authors on the Nature paper were W. Hubbard of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and A. Reina of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT. The research was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

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Tech Prediction for 2014: Software-Defined in Two Architectures

first_imgDifferent applications demand different things from the infrastructure – performance, resiliency, capacity, security and cost.  A software-defined data center is driven by automation that matches an application’s policies to an infrastructure pool that will deliver the right capabilities to satisfy policy requirements.  In 2014, we will see an explosion in software-defined storage discussions around the IT industry and we will see the discussion focus on a few distinct aspects of software-defined storage.First, we will see what is most commonly thought of as software-define storage – software-based data services that can be purchased separately from hardware and deployed on any whitebox storage.  This software-based storage architecture is already being seen in hyperscale environments and will increasingly be deployed in the enterprise for cost-optimized file, block and object workloads that don’t need extremes of resiliency or performance.Second, we will continue to see complete storage systems ship with integrated hardware and software for workloads that demand the extremes of performance and availability.  These systems are still software-defined because it is the software that drives the value, but they will be shipped as complete systems, fully tested for the extremes they can meet.Finally, we will see a layer of heterogeneous storage management develop around these two storage deployment models.  This heterogeneous management layer will expose service levels from both architectures to the virtual platforms, allowing an automated, policy-based approach to storage.Throughout 2014, we will see proprietary implementations of storage policy descriptors with increasing traction towards industry standards.  As we roll towards 2015, we will be closer to the fully automated, software-defined data center by leveraging these industry standards.—More Tech Predictions for 2014SDx (Software-Defined Everything) by Amitabh Srivastava, President, Advanced Software DivisionA Battle Cry for Protected Storage by Stephen Manley, Chief Technology Officer, Data Protection & Availability DivisionBringing Hadoop to Your Big Data by Bill Richter, President, IsilonA Whole New World by CJ Desai, President, Emerging Technologies DivisionTargeting the Value Office to Transform IT Business by Rick Devenuti, President, Information Intelligence GroupIT’s Ability to Evolve Quickly by Vic Bhagat, Chief Information OfficerAs BYOD Matures, BYOI is Waiting in the Wings by Art Coviello, President, RSAService Orientation, Big Data Lakes, & Security Product Rationalization by Tom Roloff, Senior Vice President, Global Serviceslast_img read more

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New York Attorney General Drops T-Mobile-Sprint Challenge

first_imgMike Mozart / CC BY 2.0 / Chris Potter / ccPixs.comNEW YORK — New York’s attorney general said Sunday the state will not appeal a judge’s decision approving the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a coalition of 14 attorneys general who sued to stop T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint for $26.5 billion. They argued that eliminating a major wireless company would harm consumers by reducing competition and driving up prices for cellphone service.A federal judge in New York sided with the carriers last week.James said in a statement that after analyzing the issue, New York will not move forward with an appeal. “Instead, we hope to work with all the parties to ensure that consumers get the best pricing and service possible, that networks are built out throughout our state, and that good-paying jobs are created in New York,” James said.The merger has been approved by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, with T-Mobile agreeing to create a brand-new mobile carrier in a deal with satellite-TV company Dish.T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere called the favorable Feb. 11 court decision, in response to one of the final hurdles to the merger, a “huge victory.”“Now we are finally able to focus on the last steps to get this merger done,” he said.\The decision “validates our view that this merger is in the best interests of the U.S. economy and American consumers,” Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure said in a joint news release.Texas, Nevada, Colorado and Mississippi had dropped out of the states’ challenge in recent months after reaching separate settlements in which T-Mobile typically promised 5G service in the states and steady prices or low-price options.James said T-Mobile has made commitments to create jobs in Rochester and engage in national diversity initiatives. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Bills’ Victory Was Allen’s Way Of Honoring His Grandmother

first_imgImage by Sara Schmidle / BuffaloBills.com.ORCHARD PARK (AP) — The crying would have to wait. Josh Allen wasn’t going to let the pain of his grandmother’s sudden death get in the way of him taking the field against the Seattle Seahawks last weekend.“Grammy,” as the Bills quarterback affectionally called Patricia Allen, wouldn’t have had it any other way.“All I kept telling myself was she would’ve wanted me to play,” Allen said Wednesday, in his first comments since coach Sean McDermott revealed the news of Allen’s 80-year-old grandmother’s death following a 44-34 win on Sunday.“And she would want me to play how I usually play, with the fun that I have out there, and with the sense of pride I have when I put on that uniform,” Allen said. “That’s all I kept telling myself that I’m doing this for her. I knew she was with me on the field.” Allen, who would occasionally look to the sky and point during the game, provided a fitting remembrance for a beloved grandmother, who never missed a Bills game either on TV or in person, and attended every one of his high school games in Firebaugh, California.He finished 31 of 38 for 415 yards passing, matching a career high set in a win over Miami in Week 2, and scored four touchdowns, including one rushing. The outing earned him his second AFC offensive player of the week honor of the season.It wasn’t until he reached the locker room and saw offensive coordinator Brian Daboll that an emotionally spent Allen collapsed in the coach’s arms and broke down.“My parents didn’t want to tell me. They didn’t want to burden me with a heavy heart before the game,” Allen said of finding out about the death on Saturday night. “But to go out there and play for her, to do it in her honor, while my family was all together watching, I don’t think it could’ve been a better tribute.”The quarterback had even more cause to grow emotional. He was awestruck by the outpouring of support the Bills Mafia fanbase showed in topping $300,000 in donations to Allen’s favorite charity, Buffalo’s Oishei Children’s Hospital.“Words can’t really describe how I feel,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough. It’s overwhelming for sure. So much good is coming out of such a tough situation, you can’t help but smile at it.”In three years since being drafted in the first round out of Wyoming, Allen is enjoying his full share of what the community likes to call “Buffa-Love.”Daboll, who grew up in Buffalo’s suburbs, wasn’t surprised by how the fanbase has adopted the quarterback as one of its own by noting how Allen’s blue-collar, unpretentious approach fits this rust-belt town.“That’s him. He’s just a genuine, genuine person,” Daboll said.The support is also a reflection of Allen emerging as the franchise quarterback the Bills have lacked since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.Under Allen, the pass-happy, AFC East-leading Bills are 7-2, matching their best record through nine games since 1993. Buffalo, which plays at Arizona (5-3) on Sunday, is in contention to earn its third playoff berth in four years, and win its first division title since 1995.Allen has captivated the community much like he has his teammates, many of whom didn’t know about his family’s loss until after the game.“He took a moment to put his feelings to the side and put his team first,” receiver Stefon Diggs said. “You’ve got to respect it. You’ve got to love him for that because not a lot of guys could’ve done that.”For McDermott, Allen’s performance reinforced what the team saw in the raw, strong-armed quarterback who played at Wyoming because it was one of only two Division I schools to offer him a scholarship.“He’s continued to grow. He’s continued to put in the work, acknowledging that he’s not a finished product,” McDermott said. “Even though he’s experienced success prior to this season, he stays committed to working his tail off to get better and improve.”Allen joined Drew Bledsoe in 2002 in becoming the second Buffalo player to top 400 yards passing twice in one season. His 2,587 yards passing are 502 short of matching his 16-game total last year. And his current completion percentage of 68.9 represents a 10.1-point jump over last season, when he finished 32nd among NFL starters.The statistics and awards are secondary, Allen said, though he acknowledged producing them in honor of his grandmother made him feel better. He was more pleased with how Buffalo responded in his time of need.“It’s truly a special place,” Allen said. “I don’t ever want to leave, obviously. I want to play here for as long as I can, and give back.”NOTES: CB Tre’Davious White did not practice after hurting his ankle in the final minutes on Sunday. … CB Josh Norman, who’s missed three games with a hamstring injury, was listed as limited in practice. … C Mitch Morse cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and practiced fully. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Holiday planting

first_imgBy Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaThe winter holidays are perfect for eating turkey, watching football and planting shrubs in your landscape. If you don’t ordinarily associate planting shrubs with the holidays, it’s not because the two don’t go together.”It’s really an ideal time,” said Bob Westerfield, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist. And that’s not just because you have some time off for the holiday.”Planting now will allow several months for the plants’ root systems to get established before the hot weather starts next summer,” Westerfield said. “Summer is when our landscape plants are really stressed, and the plants can handle that stress much better with a better developed root system.”Think ‘roots’Like planting at Thanksgiving, roots don’t automatically come to mind when you think of landscape plants. You can’t see them, and even if you could, you wouldn’t be impressed.But the roots have to supply all the water and nutrients the plant needs to grow a top that will impress you. And the best time for the roots to grow is during the fall and winter.Fall-planted ornamentals normally have a supply of carbohydrates and other food substances stored in their roots from the past growing season. So with little demand from the tops, the roots are able to grow and become well-established before the next spring.The plant can divert all its energy into developing a good supply of roots, Westerfield said. Then when spring does come, the plant will be able to pop with growth.Best time”For deciduous trees and shrubs, the best time for root growth is when they’re dormant,” he said, “after they’ve been exposed to some chilling temperatures.”What about the cold stress? “For the most part, that’s really not a concern in Georgia,” Westerfield said. “Our soil temperatures just don’t get that cold.”In fact, most of Georgia’s soil temperatures don’t get low enough to keep the roots from growing all winter.The Thanksgiving holidays aren’t too late for planting. For that matter, Westerfield said, neither are the Christmas holidays, or January, or February.”It’s an ideal time, actually,” he said. “About the only bad thing is that you might run into some weather that’s not very pleasant for planting.”Plants availableSupplies of landscape plants are less plentiful than in the spring. But Westerfield said that’s not really a hindrance.”Generally, the plants are there,” he said. “Sales are slower — that’s true. But you can usually find the plants you want. They may not have the size you might look for in the spring, but they’ll reach that size better next spring if they’re already established in your landscape.”When you plant in the fall, Westerfield said, do almost everything just as you would in the spring. The only big difference is that you don’t want to fertilize in the fall. Wait until next spring for that.You don’t need to prune, either, unless you need to remove structural problems or damaged branches. You don’t want to encourage foliage growth during the fall and winter.Water the plant as much as it needs, Westerfield said. Anytime it’s dry during the fall or winter, plants need watering just as they would during a dry spring or summer.They can be much more forgiving if you’re a day late watering them in the fall, though. Their real test won’t come until next summer.(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

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Early educators bring message of quality education to statehouse

first_imgOver 175 women (and a few men) in blue t-shirts turned out at the state capitol today as early educators from across the state gathered to support legislation giving them a voice in making decisions to improve the quality of early childhood education.‘This is about children and the quality of care that we are able to provide. This is also about professionalism and respect for the 10,000 early educators who care for kids every single day,’ said Cathi Ste. Marie, who owns and operates a certified home care for 14 children in North Troy ‘I, and all the early educators here today are not babysitters ‘ we are professionals who care deeply about the children we are entrusted with. And our children will be better served if we are here as full partners in this process.’H.97 has received hearings in the House and has been endorsed by Governor Shumlin, former Governor Howard Dean, 53 Representatives and 11 Senators from all 3 major parties.The bill has also drawn support from parents and community members like Rebecca Haslam who spoke at today’s event on the value of early education to parents:‘I’m a first grade teacher, the former President of the Burlington Education Association, a member of the Vermont NEA, AND I’m the mother of a nine month old. I know kids. And I’m here today to say that early education is good for kids, good for families and essential to Vermont.’Legislators agreed on the importance of the legislation, and promised to double their efforts to move it swiftly through the committee process:‘Early education isn’t just good FOR business, it IS good business,’ said Tim Ashe a leading sponsor of the bill in the Senate. ‘Over 70% of our kids are in child care at least part time. The vast majority of those are private businesses with local customers and local employees. Passing this legislation is essential for our economy.’‘We know that our children are at a critical age for learning and cognitive development before they turn 5,’ explained Representative Mark Larson of Burlington. ‘We have to do everything we can to support them and make sure they get quality education and professional care at that age. I see H.97 as a vehicle to improving the system, as it allows early educators the opportunity to help shape the decisions that affect their businesses and the families they serve. That’s why I’m a sponsor of this bill and I have encouraged my colleagues to join me in supporting H.97.’last_img read more

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Alliant Credit Union offers $240 ATM fee rebate

first_img 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A majority of CUs offer their members a safe harbor from ATM charges.ATM transaction fees continue to escalate nationally, but a majority of credit unions offer their members a safe harbor from those charges.Count Alliant Credit Union in that group. The $8.1 billion asset credit union in Chicago recently introduced a plan to reimburse checking account-holders up to $20 a month in fees from out-of-network ATM terminal use.Alliant regularly surveys its members and “noticed an uptick in comments about ATM fees,” says David Mooney, Alliant president/ CEO. “We assigned an internal cross-functional team to address the matter and ended up not just satisfying our members, but delighting them.”Alliant members already had access to 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs. But because the credit union provides employee financial benefits and wellness programs to large regional and national companies, its membership is geographically dispersed.As such, convenience is a key factor. Members now have even greater flexibility in their choice of ATM terminals because they can recoup up to $240 annually. continue reading »last_img read more

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One in 7 reported COVID-19 infections is among health workers: WHO

first_imgOne in seven cases of COVID-19 reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a health worker and in some countries that figure rises to one in three, the agency said on Thursday.The WHO called for frontline medical workers to be provided with protective equipment to prevent them from being infected with the novel coronavirus, and potentially spreading it to their patients and families.”Globally around 14% of COVID cases reported to the WHO are among health workers and in some countries it’s as much as 35%,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Patients’ safety requires guarantees of health worker safety as well – two sides of the same coin. Regrettably too often those guarantees are missing,” Ryder said.WHO’s emergency chief Mike Ryan said that three things haunt health workers on the frontlines of infectious disease outbreaks.”One is to stand there and watch people die because you can’t help them. Two is to see a worker fall and be infected, your fellow worker and friend.”And the third – and the one that really weighs on health workers most of the time in these situations – is the chance they could take that disease home to their families, to their friends, to their children,” Ryan said.More than 1,000 nurses have died after contracting the virus, the International Council of Nurses, a Geneva-based association, said in a statement. Topics :center_img He added data was limited however and it was hard to know if people were infected at work or in their communities.Tedros was addressing a news briefing marking World Patient Safety Day, as the number of people reported infected with the coronavirus neared 30 million, with 938,291 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.”It’s not just the risk of infection. Every day, health workers are exposed to stress, burnout, stigma, discrimination and even violence,” he added.Guy Ryder, director-general of the U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO), said the WHO figures on infections among health workers were a “shocking testimony”.last_img read more

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Dragados’ Aberdeen Update: Half of Caissons Placed in South Harbor

first_imgImage source: DragadosThe Aberdeen Harbor Expansion Project has reached another important landmark, with the placement of the 11th caisson at Nigg Bay, out of a total of 22. This 7,000-tonnes caisson, which bears the name Catrina, is part of Aberdeen South Harbor’s Dunnottar Quay.“It has been towed on site on a two-day journey from the Cromarty Firth. Once this floating structure was correctly positioned, its empty chambers were filled with water in order to sink it into its permanent position,” Dragados SA UK & Ireland, the principal contractor for the Aberdeen Harbor Expansion Project, said in its latest announcement.The final caissons will soon be transported from La Coruna in Spain to Scotland, where they will be floated into position as needed.Construction on Aberdeen Harbor Board’s £350 million South Harbor is now progressing according to schedule. This follows six years of unprecedented public engagement by the Board and Executive Team across the widest range of stakeholders.The pre-construction feasibility study also included a large-scale Environmental Impact Assessment, an integrated investigation into funding streams, and the creation of a Development Framework, which considered the opportunities presented by the potential investment in the new harbor for the wider Nigg, East Tullos and Altens area.Three high level planning applications were also secured: a Harbor Revision Order from Transport Scotland, Marine Licenses from Marine Scotland and for Planning Permission in Principle from Aberdeen City Council.Image source: Dragadoslast_img read more

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