Fifteen years ago, an odd mutant fruit fly caught the attention and curiosity of Dr. Ravi Allada, a circadian rhythms expert at Northwestern University, leading the neuroscientist to recently discover how an animal’s biological clock wakes it up in the morning and puts it to sleep at night.The clock’s mechanism, it turns out, is much like a light switch. In a study of brain circadian neurons that govern the daily sleep-wake cycle’s timing, Allada and his research team found that high sodium channel activity in these neurons during the day turn the cells on and ultimately awaken an animal, and high potassium channel activity at night turn them off, allowing the animal to sleep. Investigating further, the researchers were surprised to discover the same sleep-wake switch in both flies and mice.“This suggests the underlying mechanism controlling our sleep-wake cycle is ancient,” said Allada, professor and chair of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He is the senior author of the study. “This oscillation mechanism appears to be conserved across several hundred million years of evolution. And if it’s in the mouse, it is likely in humans, too.” Email Share Pinterest LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Better understanding of this mechanism could lead to new drug targets to address sleep-wake trouble related to jet lag, shift work and other clock-induced problems. Eventually, it might be possible to reset a person’s internal clock to suit his or her situation.The researchers call this a “bicycle” mechanism: two pedals that go up and down across a 24-hour day, conveying important time information to the neurons. That the researchers found the two pedals — a sodium current and potassium currents — active in both the simple fruit fly and the more complex mouse was unexpected.The findings were published in the Aug. 13 issue of the journal Cell.“What is amazing is finding the same mechanism for sleep-wake cycle control in an insect and a mammal,” said Matthieu Flourakis, the lead author of the study. “Mice are nocturnal, and flies are diurnal, or active during the day, but their sleep-wake cycles are controlled in the same way.”When he joined Allada’s team, Flourakis had wondered if the activity of the fruit fly’s circadian neurons changed with the time of day. With the help of Indira M. Raman, the Bill and Gayle Cook Professor in the department of neurobiology, he found very strong rhythms: The neurons fired a lot in the morning and very little in the evening.The researchers next wanted to learn why. That’s when they discovered that when sodium current is high, the neurons fire more, awakening the animal, and when potassium current is high, the neurons quiet down, causing the animal to slumber. The balance between sodium and potassium currents controls the animal’s circadian rhythms.Flourakis, Allada and their colleagues then wondered if such a process was present in an animal closer to humans. They studied a small region of the mouse brain that controls the animal’s circadian rhythms — the suprachiasmatic nucleus, made up of 20,000 neurons — and found the same mechanism there.“Our starting point for this research was mutant flies missing a sodium channel who walked in a halting manner and had poor circadian rhythms,” Allada said. “It took a long time, but we were able to pull everything — genomics, genetics, behavior studies and electrical measurements of neuron activity — together in this paper, in a study of two species.“Now, of course, we have more questions about what’s regulating this sleep-wake pathway, so there is more work to be done,” he said.
Program about the U.S. Army Bicycle Corps, Iron Riders of the West at 7 p.m. Thursday Sept. 19. Courtesy photoFort Union News:Watrous – Join Fort Union in downtown Las Vegas, N.M. for a program about the hardy, but little-known U.S. Army Bicycle Corps, a group of Buffalo Soldiers who tested bicycles as a possible replacement for horses.The free program will be presented by Park Ranger Mike Weinstein at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. The program will take place at the CCHP/Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Center at 116 Bridge St. in Las Vegas, N.M.When bicycles became a popular new technology in the 1890s, a few Army officers thought the two-wheeled vehicles, needing no food or water, could replace the horse.The Bicycle Corps fared well in two years of arduous testing in the rugged terrain of the western United States. But the arrival of the internal combustion engine just a few years later was the death knell for the bicycle as a military vehicle.This program is free in partnership with the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation. For more information, contact Fort Union National Monument at 505.425.8025, visit www.nps.gov/foun, or like on us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FortUnionNM.About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 409 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
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Wood Group has announced that David Woodward intends to retire and step down from his current roles as senior independent non-executive director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee at the company’s annual general meeting in May 2016.According to the company, after serving on the board for nine years, Woodward will not offer himself for re-election to the board.Jann Brown will succeed Woodward as senior independent non-executive director. Brown has been a non-executive director since 2014 and is Chair of the Audit Committee.Jeremy Wilson will succeed Woodward as Chair of the Remuneration Committee. Wilson has been a non-executive director since 2011.Ian Marchant, Chair, said “David is stepping down from the board having served nine years as a non-executive director, including 4 years as Chair of the Remuneration Committee. He has been a major influence in Wood Group’s development and he leaves with our best wishes for the future. “I am grateful that Jann and Jeremy have agreed to step into the roles of senior independent director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee respectively and I know they will serve Wood Group well.”
OLT Offshore LNG Toscana on Friday said it has launched a tender seeking a single LNG cargo for the winter peak shaving service. According to the company’s statement, the winner of the tender will have to supply a cargo in volume between 65,000-cbm and 110,000-cbm for unloading at the Toscana FSRU in the period of December 1 to December 31, 2016.The tender closes on November 21, the documents show.This is the third year in a row that the company has launched a tender seeking a cargo for peak shaving service, which is an emergency measure against unforeseen events in the winter period.In case such an emergency occurs in the period starting January 1, 2017, to March 31, 2017, the cargo would be regasified and delivered to the gas transmission network.FSRU Toscana is one of Italy’s main regasification projects and is located 22km off the Italian coast between Livorno and Pisa.The terminal is permanently anchored to the seabed through a mooring system, with a single point of rotation at the bow.It is connected to the national grid through a 36.5 km long pipeline, operated and managed by Snam Rete Gas.At full capacity, the FSRU has the capability to regasify 3.75 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, about 4 percent of the national requirement.
Aker Solutions has secured a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract from VNG Norge for the Pil & Bue development in the Norwegian Sea.The FEED is for the subsea production system that will be used in a tieback of Pil & Bue to the Njord A platform.It will compete against a design from another company and the company with the winning design will in the fourth quarter of this year be awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for Pil & Bue, Aker Solutions explained.“We are very pleased to work with VNG to optimize the subsea field architecture for this development,” said Svenn Ivar Fure, head of Aker Solutions’ front end delivery center. “We look forward to demonstrating our capabilities and capacity to tie the Pil & Bue development back to the Njord platform.”Pil & Bue are located in the licence PL586 in the Norwegian Sea.VNG is the operator of Pil & Bue with 30% interest. Other partners in the license are Spike Exploration Holding with 30%, Faroe Petroleum Norge holding 25%, and Pure E&P Norway 15% stake.
However, this growth could be hit by a significant slowdown in investment in emerging markets and political uncertainty in major economies, including the USA. In the report, the World Bank said it expects a moderate recovery for 2017, with receding obstacles to activity in commodity-exporting emerging markets and developing economies. It noted that weak investment is weighing on medium-term prospects across many emerging markets and developing economies. Although fiscal stimulus in major economies, if implemented, may boost global growth above expectations, risks to growth forecasts remain tilted to the downside. Global growth in 2016 is estimated at a post-crisis low of 2.3 percent and is projected to rise to 2.7 percent in 2017.Downside risks to global growth include increasing policy uncertainty in major advanced economies and some emerging market and developing economies (EMDE), financial market disruptions, and weakening potential growth.EMDEs grew by an estimated 3.4 percent in 2016, slightly below June projections. Among commodity exporters, output expanded an estimated 0.3 percent, as some improvement in Brazil and Russia and a modest increase in commodity prices was offset by further weakness in other exporters. In commodity importers, growth in 2016 is estimated at 5.6 percent, reflecting resilient domestic demand and generally accommodative macroeconomic policies.Going forward, EMDE regions with substantial numbers of commodity importers are expected to experience solid growth, while the outlooks for regions with large number of commodity exporters are more heterogeneous.Overall, EMDE growth is projected to pick up to 4.2 percent in 2017 and to an average of 4.7 percent in 2018-19, mainly on a recovery in commodity exporters supported by a gradual increase in commodity prices.However, a number of factors-including advanced economy policy uncertainty and slowing productivity growth-are expected to weigh on the medium and long-term EMDE outlook. The full report can be seen here: http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/global-economic-prospects
The two companies have entered into a distribution agreement. Trail King will act as the sole distributor of Goldhofer’s products in the USA, while Goldhofer will be distributing Trail King products to the rest of the world.”Our experience and innovation have earned us an international reputation for time and cost-effective solutions in the challenging field of multimodal transportation. We believe Trail King holds that same reputation in the USA and Canada,” said Goldhofer’s general manager (transport technology) and head of sales, Rainer Auerbacher.Goldhofer will extend its portfolio with the Trail King HT, HST, SA, HDG and HED product lines. “We are excited to add Trail King’s suite of products to our worldwide customer offering,” Auerbacher added.Trail King’s president, Joe Kolb, added: “We’re thrilled to now offer our US and Canadian customers a complete range of products for all of their heavy haul needs.” www.goldhofer.comwww.trailking.com
NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas is celebrating its 46th anniversary of political independence from Britain with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, urging greater collaboration among the population and also warning of the impact of climate change on the chain of islands.In a televised message, Minnis said while the country has a diversity of different backgrounds, creeds and affiliation “we are one Bahamas.‘We are bound together by the wonders and possibilities of our country. We are an archipelago or a quilt of industry, resilience and imagination,” he said, noting also the beauty of the country’s rich marine resources.But he warned “we must ever be vigilant in preserving our bio-diversity, addressing pollution, protecting our marine and environment and resources and combating other environmental threats.“With the historic challenge of the exhilarating and life-threatening effects of climate change, united we must stand to save our Bahamas from rising sea levels and other destructive effects of a warming planet.“Climate change is a threat to our survival as a country and as a people,’ Minnis said, adding that it was also important for the country to preserve its rich cultural heritage.“It is culture that makes us unique in God’s creation. It is our ability to express ourselves culturally and to celebrate the art forms that make us complete as individuals and as a nation,”’ he said, announcing a million-dollar fund “dedicated to supporting the development of Bahamian painters, writers, sculptors, filmmakers, artisans, playwrights, poets, musicians and performing artists involved in projects of cultural significance”.Meanwhile, the United States has reaffirmed its commitment to working closely with the Bahamian government.“We remain firmly committed to working closely with The Bahamas to increase the safety, prosperity and security of all of our citizens,” said US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in a statement.“On this joyous occasion, the United States wishes the people of The Bahamas many years of peace and prosperity. On behalf of the people of the United States, allow me to extend my warmest wishes to the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on the 46th anniversary of your independence on July 10, 2019,” Pompeo said.He said the two countries “share a long history of close cultural, social, and economic ties, as well as a firm commitment to democratic and free-market principles.”Washington said the partnership “continues to deepen, notably through the recently launched US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership; our close cooperation on trade, investment, and national security; and enduring people-to-people relationships”.
Two Europeans hostages, kidnapped nine months ago, have been released and were flown to Malta last yesterday before heading home to their respective countries.Austrian Alexander Haas and Serb Babic Radoslav Srja, both of whom worked with Argus Security for the Italian oil and gas company Eni, were said to have been seized west of Tripoli nine months ago by a Misratan militia.Their freedom was secured in part by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and followed a meeting between him and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade last Saturday. Confirming this, a Maltese government statement said the two were released as a result of collaboration between the Maltese, Libyan, Austrian and Serbian authorities.Muscat met Srja while visiting Vienna today.Retired German minister Bernd Schmidbauer, who acted as government coordinator with German intelligence in the 1990s and secured the release of a number of hostages, is also reported to have been involved in securing the men’s release.It is not clear if a ransom was paid.