domingo, 28 de fevereiro de 2010

Transgénicos: nos EUA celebridades tomam iniciativas interessantes - Um Mês Sem Monsanto


February 28th, 2010 | Author: Christy Morgan

I had the pleasure of sitting down with April Davila to discuss her new project called Month Without Monsanto. For the month of March she is trying to go without Monsanto products in her life. That means not ingesting GMO foods, not wearing cotton clothing, or using any skin care products that may have been produced with GMO or biotech ingredients. She’s got her work cut out for her, but I think she can do it!

I’m excited to follow her journey so I too can become a better consumer. I personally don’t want to support Monsanto in any way, so April’s blog will make sure I know my stuff when it comes to being a consumer.

Here’s a little video that will tell you more about April and Month Without Monsanto. More interview questions are after the video. I really hope that you will join April and follow her during the month of March. (sorry the video quality kept getting dark then light again)


The Blissful Chef: What are some horrifying things you’ve found in your research on Monsanto?

The thing I have found the most shocking so far is this quote from Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communication for Monsanto:

“Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food, our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

The Blissful Chef: Do you think there’s any hope of fighting the agriculture-evil that is Monsanto?

To answer this question I need to step back and say that I don’t think Monsanto is evil. Monsanto is an agricultural company that exists to make money. They’re good at it. I’m not interested in raging against their attempts to keep investors happy.

What does get me excited is the idea that we, as consumers, have the power to accept genetically modified organisms or not. There is absolutely hope for our future. A recent report from the ISAAA stated that only 2.7% of all agricultural land was devoted to GM crops last year, and most of those yields went to feed livestock. Of the 25 countries that currently allow cultivation of GM crops, seven of them saw a reduction in the number of acres devoted to GM crops in 2009.

The Blissful Chef: What can we do to help you on your quest or help our families & friends go “Without Monsanto”?

The best thing we can do is get involved in the conversation. My goal with the blog is really to open up a dialogue and get people talking about what’s in our food. The more we know, the more we can shop with confidence and feel good about what we’re eating.

The Blissful Chef: Is it possible for the everyday person to go Without Monsanto?

I certainly hope so. Ask me on March 31st.

Thank you again April for sitting down with me and taking on this month-long mission to go without Monsanto. I will be right along with you this month and hopefully some of you will join her too! Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog Month Without Monsanto and follow her on Twitter @WithoutMonsanto.

sábado, 27 de fevereiro de 2010

Pordata, a Base de Dados sobre Portugal Contemporâneo

Protecção socialEmpregoRendimentosHabitação

Pordata, a maior Base de Dados sobre Portugal Contemporâneo (os últimos 50 anos): uma iniciativa tão pertinente como estratégica. Contudo, a rúbrica AMBIENTE não existe. Esperemos que o ICNB e outras entidades se pronunciem para que se corrija a tempo esta falha, num sector chave do desenvolvimento do País.

Aqui encontrará milhares de estatísticas e indicadores sobre os mais diversos aspectos da realidade portuguesa.
Existem várias maneiras de procurar a informação desejada. É possível fazer uma busca por palavra-chave, como no Google, no Yahoo, no Bing e noutras ferramentas similares.

Pode-se aceder por etapas, o que permite visualizar várias possibilidades e ir seleccionando o que se pretende.

O portal permite ainda executar consultas avançadas, incluindo através da selecção de intervalos de tempo ou de anos específicos.

Poderá finalmente efectuar os cálculos que quiser e criar os seus próprios indicadores.

Convidamo-lo a explorar este portal e experimentar todas as suas possibilidades: poderá assim compreender melhor um país que nem todos conhecem, o dos factos.

A Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos agradece todos os comentários, sugestões e críticas.

António Barreto

Presidente do Conselho de Administração


Parabéns à Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos!




quinta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2010

Critica-se muitos os EUA e China, mas de acordo com este excelente gráfico, o mundo foi por muito tempo Britânico, Português, Francês e Espanhol


This is mainly an experimentation with soft bodies using toxi's verlet springs.
The data refers to the evolution of the top 4 maritime empires of the XIX and XX centuries by extent. The visual emphasis is on their decline.

More on this project




quarta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2010

Iberia Change- sabia que Espanha e Portugal continental possuem mais de 50% da biodiversidade Europeia?



Mas uma parte desta biodiversidade encontra-se, actualmente, ameaçada pelas alterações climáticas e por modificações nos seus habitats. Será possível antecipar e mitigar estes impactos?






Iberia Change é um projecto, de grande escala, desenvolvido pelos governos de Portugal e Espanha (a parte Portuguesa é financiada pela EDP) e foi concebido para investigar os possíveis impactes das alterações climáticas sobre a biodiversidade Ibérica nos próximos 100 anos. Este projecto constitui a primeira iniciativa de carácter transnacional para implementar iniciativas comuns que ajudem a mitigar os impactos associados às alterações climáticas na biodiversidade.

Para publicações relacionadas com a biodiversidade e as alterações climáticas ver aqui.



terça-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2010

A física quântica da fotossíntese


Segundo este estudo (3 de Fevereiro 2010), quase nenhuma energia é perdida no meio. Isso porque ela existe em vários lugares ao mesmo tempo, e sempre encontra o caminho mais curto.




domingo, 21 de fevereiro de 2010

Ciência: Portugal bem colocado (7º) , bem à frente dos EUA e GB, de acordo com Science Metrix

Who will be the next science and technology (S&T) superpowers?

Por Walter Derzko

Want to know who will be economically stronger in the next decade or two? It will most likely be countries that have good emerging science and technology capabilities or what I call S&T bench strength.

Since it takes about a 5-15 or more years to take a scientific discovery and turn it into a commercial venture, we need to look at trends over several decades. Once upon a time, all you had to do was look to the US to find all the leading edge innovation in most industries. Not any more.

If we use the number of peer-reviewed academic scientific papers that are published annually as a proxy for S&T strength, then clearly the USA is still number one with about 250,000 -260,000 papers published per year. That's twice as much as China, who is in second spot with about 120,000 papers per year. Then we get a cluster of several nations at 50,000 to 60,000 paper such as Japan, the UK and Germany. The next cluster comes in a 30-35,000 paper range (ie France, Canada, India, Rep of Korea,historic FSU (ie Russia, Ukraine etc). Brazil rounds out the top ten at around 22,000 papers per year.

That list of academic titans correlates nicely with their relative economic strength.

But the gross numbers only tell half the story. If we look at growth rates over the last 30 years, we see a different picture.

Countries like US and Canada and even Europe as a whole, while high in gross total numbers have been fairly stagnant in growth over the past 30 years.

If we set the global average of the Growth Index (GI) at 1.0, then North America has a GI of 0.78 and Europe's GI is 0.95, less the 1.0 which is the global average.

Who are the S&T growth leaders in the past 30 years. You will be surprised. No it's no China.

  • Iran (GI = 14.4) (mostly nuclear research related)
  • Rep of Korea (GI= 9.8)
  • Turkey (GI=7.8)
  • Cyprus (GI=5.2)
  • Finally China (GI=5.1)
  • Oman (GI=4.8)
  • Portugal (GI=3.9)
  • Estonia (GI=3.4)
  • Tunisia (GI=3.2)

In contrast, the following are below world average growth.

  • Israel (GI=0.94)
  • UK (GI=0.86)
  • Canada (GI=0.82)
  • USA (GI = 0.77)

But then quantity may not always equate to quality (i.e frequency of science citations) and number of breakthroughs or milestone discoveries. A number of science watchers accuse China of doing alot of incremental copycat, me-to research.

There is also a distinct English language and western media bias to cover primarily western science and far less of a tendency to generally cover discoveries from around the world. So consequently, the politicians, business and the public doesn't have a clear view of the discoveries in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East or even countries from the former Soviet Union (FSU)

But in general, the moral of the story is: there's innovation and novel discovery all around the world and not just the USA any more.

Source: Science Metrix and The Web of Science (Thompson Reuters)

Science by world region Science Metrix

Science paper by world region Science Metrix













Science growth by country Science Metrix






sábado, 20 de fevereiro de 2010

Curso de ilustração científica biológica, Lisboa


Pré-inscrições: centro.biociencias@ispa.pt

Duração | 24 horas, repartidas em três sessões semanais (terças e quintas das 17h30 às 20h00 e sábados das 10h00 às 13h00)

Datas | 2 a 20 de Março de 2010

Preço | 120 euros

Formador | Marcos Oliveira - Licenciado em História de Arte. Ilustrador profissional desde 1994, especializado em ilustração cientifica biológica.





Plano do curso

Sessão 1 | Introdução à Ilustração científica. O que é, para que serve. Explicação das técnicas mais utilizadas. Mostra de originais em diversas técnicas. Mostra dos materiais utilizados.
Sessão 2 | Anatomia animal. Apresentação em data show e breve explicação da anatomia das várias classes de animais.
Sessão 3 | Escolha de um modelo e execução do desenho preliminar em papel esquiço. Transferência do desenho preliminar para a folha de pintura.
Sessão 4 | Demonstração de pintura com aguarela, pelo formador. Início da pintura da ilustração pelos formandos.
Sessões 5, 6 e 7 | Pintura, acompanhada pelo formador



quinta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2010

Rokia Traore - Mouneissa


Canção do primeiro album de Rokia Traore Mouneissa (1998)Sítio oficialRokia Traore
Bio [uk]


Rokia Traoré is a singer/songwriter/guitarist /dancer from Mali.
In many parts of West Africa, professional musicians are often from a certain lowly caste called the 'griots'. However, Traoré's family are from the Bamana ethnic group who do not observe this restriction so strictly. Therefore when Rokia was young she was able to sing with others at wedding celebrations, despite coming from a privileged background.
As Rokia's father was a diplomat, her family spent a lot of time in different countries while Rokia was growing up. She came into contact with many local and international styles of music, although her parents were reluctant for her to become a musician. When she was a bit older Rokia stayed at the lycée in Bamako while her parents were in Brussels and there she developed her voice and first performed in public.
In 1997 she met Ali Farka Toure who gave her quite a lot of guidance and then in 1998 she recorded her first album, Mouneïssa. The tracks on 2000's Wanita CD are all in Bamanan except 'Château de sable', which is in French. Her lyrics cover issues like respect, traditions and relationships. She is joined by Boubacar Traoré on the track 'Mancipera'. Coco Mbassi does the backing vocals on several tracks and Toumani Diabaté plays kora. Hauntingly beautiful gentle tracks make this a real treasure trove. The hallmark of Rokia's music is trance-like rhythms, in contrast to many of the other women musicians from Mali like Kandia Kouyate. The accompanying instruments Traore chooses are unique as they are traditional like the balafon (giant wooden xylophone) and the tiny n'goni, which are not normally heard together. She also uses kora and calabash percussion.





quarta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2010

terça-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2010

A Teoria do Superorganismo Humano

Albert Einstein once said that "The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self". For years our traditional view of 'self' was restricted to our own bodies; composed of eukaryote cells encoded by our genome. However, in the era of omics technologies and systems biology, this view now extends beyond the traditional limitations of our own core being to include our resident microbial communities. These prokaryote cells outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten and contain at least ten times more DNA than our own genome. In exchange for food and shelter, this symbiont provides us, the host, with metabolic functions far beyond the scope of our own physiological capabilities. In this respect the human body can be considered a superorganism; a communal group of human and microbial cells all working for the benefit of the collective - a view which most certainly attains liberation from self.


The human superorganism – Of microbes and men.





segunda-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2010

Ensaio: As vantagens da Reprodução Sexual, por Matt Ridley (Inglês)

painting of amourous coupleessay: The Advantage of Sex by Matt Ridley
introduction

Why does sex -- that is, sexual reproduction -- exist? In many ways, asexual reproduction is a better evolutionary strategy: Only one parent is required, and all of that parent's genes are passed on to its progeny. In sexual reproduction, only half of each parent's genes are passed to the next generation. What's more, a mate must be found. Yet sex persists.

This essay offers possible explanations of this evolutionary paradox.

Matt Ridley is the author of The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (1995), The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (1998), and Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (2000). A former science editor and Washington correspondent of The Economist, he now lives in northeast England, where he is chairman of a science center called The International Centre for Life.

Adapted with permission from New Scientist, 4 December 1993, no. 1902 © 1993 by RBI. (Boldface added.)

painting of amourous couple
Sexual
reproduction,
human style

A variety of theories have been proposed over the years to explain why sexual reproduction may be more advantageous than asexual reproduction, and, for that matter, why sexual reproduction even exists at all. For years everyone accepted the general proposition that sex is good for evolution because it creates genetic variety, which, in turn, is useful in adapting to constantly changing and challenging environments. But it may give organisms a very different kind of edge.

By the late 1980s, in the contest to explain sex, only two hypotheses remained in contention.





One, the deleterious mutation hypothesis, was the idea that sex exists to purge a species of damaging genetic mutations; Alexey Kondrashov, now at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, has been its principal champion. He argues that in an asexual population, every time a creature dies because of a mutation, that mutation dies with it. In a sexual population, some of the creatures born have lots of mutations and some have few. If the ones with lots of mutations die, then sex purges the species of mutations. Since most mutations are harmful, this gives sex a great advantage. black salamander
Salamanders can
reproduce sexually
or asexually.

drawing of  DNA with one nucelotide crossed-out
Mutations can
result from
one change in
one nucleotide
of 6 billion in a
human cell.

Can sex earn its keep?

But why eliminate mutations in this way, rather than correcting more of them by better proofreading? Kondrashov has an ingenious explanation of why this makes sense: It may be cheaper to allow some mistakes through and remove them later. The cost of perfecting proofreading mechanisms escalates as you near perfection.

According to Kondrashov's calculations, the rate of deleterious mutations must exceed one per individual per generation if sex is to earn its keep eliminating them; if less than one, then his idea is in trouble. The evidence so far is that the deleterious mutation rate teeters on the edge: it is about one per individual per generation in most creatures. But even if the rate is high enough, all that proves is that sex can perhaps play a role in purging mutations. It does not explain why sex persists.


strawberry
Strawberries
reproduce asexually
by vegetative
propagation --
sending out runners.
The main defect in Kondrashov's hypothesis is that it works too slowly. Pitted against a clone of asexual individuals, a sexual population must inevitably be driven extinct by the clone's greater productivity, unless the clone's genetic drawbacks can appear in time. Currently, a great deal of effort is going into the testing of this model by measuring the deleterious mutation rate, in a range of organisms from yeast to mouse. But the answer is still not entirely clear.
drawing of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland
The Red Queen
is a metaphor for
evolutionary
change.
Enter the Red Queen
In the late 1980s the Red Queen hypothesis emerged, and it has been steadily gaining popularity. First coined by Leigh Van Valen of the University of Chicago, it refers to Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, in which the Red Queen tells Alice, "[I]t takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." This never-ending evolutionary cycle describes many natural interactions between hosts and disease, or between predators and prey: As species that live at each other's expense coevolve, they are engaged in a constant evolutionary struggle for a survival advantage. They need "all the running they can do" because the landscape around them is constantly changing.



The Red Queen hypothesis for sex is simple: Sex is needed to fight disease. Diseases specialize in breaking into cells, either to eat them, as fungi and bacteria do, or, like viruses, to subvert their genetic machinery for the purpose of making new viruses. To do that they use protein molecules that bind to other molecules on cell surfaces. The arms races between parasites and their hosts are all about these binding proteins. Parasites invent new keys; hosts change the locks. For if one lock is common in one generation, the key that fits it will spread like wildfire. So you can be sure that it is the very lock not to have a few generations later. According to the Red Queen hypothesis, sexual reproduction persists because it enables host species to evolve new genetic defenses against parasites that attempt to live off them.

drawing of HIV docking onto white blood cell
Immune cells
have receptors
(locks) for
binding proteins
(keys) of viruses
such as HIV, that
allow them to
dock and
gain entry.

microscopic photo of sickle-shaped cells
In sickle cell
anemia,
abnormal
hemoglobin
deforms blood
cells to sickle
shapes.

Keeping variety in store
Sexual species can call on a "library" of locks unavailable to asexual species. This library is defined by two terms: heterozygosity, when an organism carries two different forms of a gene, and polymorphism, when a population contains multiple forms of a gene. Both are lost when a lineage becomes inbred. What is the function of heterozygosity? In the case of sickle cell anemia, the sickle gene helps to defeat malaria. So where malaria is common, the heterozygotes (those with one normal gene and one sickle gene) are better off than the homozygotes (those with a pair of normal genes or sickle genes) who will suffer from malaria or anemia.

One of the main proponents of the Red Queen hypothesis was the late W. D. Hamilton. In the late 1970s, with the help of two colleagues from the University of Michigan, Hamilton built a computer model of sex and disease, a slice of artificial life. It began with an imaginary population of 200 creatures, some sexual and some asexual. Death was random. As expected, the sexual race quickly died out. In a game between sex and "asex," asex always wins -- other things being equal. That's because asexual reproduction is easier, and it's guaranteed to pass genes on to one's offspring. sea anemone
Sea anemones
reproduce
asexually
.



Daphnia water flea
The struggle of
Daphnia water
fleas and their
parasites have
been studied.


Adding parasites to the mix
Next they introduced several species of parasite, 200 of each, whose power depended on "virulence genes" matched by "resistance genes" in the hosts. The least resistant hosts and the least virulent parasites were killed in each generation. Now the asexual population no longer had an automatic advantage -- sex often won the game. It won most often if there were lots of genes that determined resistance and virulence in each creature.

In the model, as resistance genes that worked would become more common, then so too would the virulence genes. Then those resistance genes would grow rare again, followed by the virulence genes. As Hamilton put it, "antiparasite adaptations are in constant obsolescence." But in contrast to asexual species, the sexual species retain unfavored genes for future use. "The essence of sex in our theory," wrote Hamilton, "is that it stores genes that are currently bad but have promise for reuse. It continually tries them in combination, waiting for the time when the focus of disadvantage has moved elsewhere." pair of monarch butterflies
Sexual species
have variety on
their side.

minnow
The topminnow
breeds both
asexually and
sexually at
different times.
View in
QuickTime |
RealPlayer

Real-world evidence

In the years since Hamilton's simulations, empirical support for his hypothesis has been growing. There is, first, the fact that asexuality is more common in species that are little troubled by disease: boom-and-bust microscopic creatures, arctic or high-altitude plants and insects. The best test of the Red Queen hypothesis, though, was a study by Curtis Lively and Robert Vrijenhoek, then of Rutgers University in New Jersey, of a little fish in Mexico called the topminnow.

The topminnow, which sometimes crossbreeds with another similar fish to produce an asexual hybrid, is under constant attack by a parasite, a worm that causes "black-spot disease." The researchers found that the asexually reproducing topminnows harbored many more black-spot worms than did those producing sexually. That fit the Red Queen hypothesis: The sexual topminnows could devise new defenses faster by recombination than the asexually producing ones.



It could well be that the deleterious mutation hypothesis and the Red Queen hypothesis are both true, and that sex serves both functions. Or that the deleterious mutation hypothesis may be true for long-lived things like mammals and trees, but not for short-lived things like insects, in which case there might well be need for both models to explain the whole pattern. Perpetually transient, life is a treadmill, not a ladder. end of essay

[via Evolution Society]