The Road to Xenotransplantation – Growing Organs in Pigs – is Paved with Ethical Questions

There’s a worldwide organ shortage, and xenotransplantation has long been floated in major medical circles as an alternative solution. For some time, attempts at xenotransplantation meant putting chimpanzee kidneys in humans, which didn’t turn out to be successful in any way. The large problem with transplantation of any kind is that the immune system will most likely reject the donated organ, even if it’s human. So imagine how severe the rejection would be for an animal organ in a human body.

2-5-640x309 The Road to Xenotransplantation – Growing Organs in Pigs – is Paved with Ethical Questions

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On the other side, animals contain viruses that are harmful to humans, and a number of dangerous diseases such as HIV, SARS, and MERS, have all jumped from animals to humans, causing concern that xenotransplantation “might save one person’s life and cause a plague that can kill 10,000 others coming from the human host. Medical science might eventually be able to get around some of the ethical and legal issues with advances in genome editing. Just a few months ago, scientists revealed the world’s first human and pig chimeras, or pig embryos injected with human stem cells. The pigs weren’t allowed to develop past the fetal stage and so, started to grow organs with human cells in them.

3-5-640x306 The Road to Xenotransplantation – Growing Organs in Pigs – is Paved with Ethical Questions

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They set the stage for a world where we could grow human organs in other animals. One day, scientists may even be able to use stem cells to grow human organs in other animals. But all of this still comes with ethical and legal questions. Xenotransplantation actually has a long history beginning in the early 20th century. In 2003, a South Korean company called Maria Biotech announced its newest discovery of creating mouse embryos with human cells in them. The concept was that the mice could be born with human cells in all their tissues, and this would make them more accurate animal models for research, and avoiding the ethical issue of using animals for laboratory tests.

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However, a big problem came when a reporter asked whether there would truly be human cells in all the tissues. The answer was yes. Does that include human cells in ovaries and testes? Another yes. So what happens if two of these mice get together, and a human sperm meets a human egg in the Fallopian tube of a mouse? That question literally ended the project. The scenario described by the reporter was almost certainly impossible, but the incident represents some of the ethical questions around transplanting organs between species, or xenotransplantation.

Some medically sound transplants came in the 1960’s, with chimpanzee kidneys transplanted into 13 patients, one of whom lived for almost nine months. The decade also brought an attempt at transplanting a monkey heart, but the patient died immediately. More optimistically, one patient survived for 70 days after he received a baboon liver in 1992. In the 1980s, Danish scientist Steen Willadsen, a pioneer in cloning, combined portions of both sheep and goat embryos to made chimeras that were half sheep and half goat, colloquially called “geeps.”

A Unique Electric Racecar Will Be Running in Le Mans 24 Hours Next Year

If you’re familiar with the new sport featuring the BattleBots, then you might think that the new Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV may be one of them, or a giant version. But it’s actually a new all-electric racecar that could run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by next year. The GT-EV was created by Don Panoz, a guy with a penchant for creating weird racing cars. He developed a hybrid endurance racecar in the late 1990’s long before hybrid racecars were even thought of by car manufacturers. Panoz is also one of the instrumental figures in bringing the arrow-shaped DeltaWing in partnership with Nissan to Le Mans in 2012.

ec2-640x331 A Unique Electric Racecar Will Be Running in Le Mans 24 Hours Next Year

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The DeltaWing has a long and strange history of its own, with Nissan facing a lawsuit in connection to the racing car design. The car was revealed on Thursday in France in the run-up to last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The electric racing car is certainly a head-turner since it is painted in a bright green color. Some critics though, point out that it looks much different on paper. The GT-EV will supposedly have a top speed of about 180 miles per hour, and a range of around 100 miles, all powered by two electric motors – one for each axle – that have a combined output of between 400 and 450kW of power.

ec3-640x316 A Unique Electric Racecar Will Be Running in Le Mans 24 Hours Next Year

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Each wheel offers active regenerative braking to feed energy back into the battery in the corners, and active aerodynamics on the car will help it glide through the air, allowing the car to run longer and faster. Even if Panoz makes all that come true, the GT-EV will be going up against some serious limitations compared to the other cars that run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The limited range means the car will have to make a pit stop every 45 minutes or so in order for the crew to swap its battery. The limited speed reached by the GT-EV means that it really won’t be able to compete with the LMP1 and LMP2 car classes, the top tiers of endurance racing.

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However, Panoz points out that the GT-EV isn’t being made to compete for now at least. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has something called Garage 56, essentially a slot in the race lineup that’s carved out every year specifically for showcasing developing technologies. If Panoz can get the car running at Le Mans, it will be another big step forward in using motorsports to prove that electric vehicle technologies can really flourish. And if the GT-EV doesn’t do well, Panoz can always switch to the Formula E. The Don Panoz Motorsports was formed in 1997 in Braselton and entered its new car, the Panoz Esperante GTR-1, at Le Mans. The team was competitive, finishing third and ahead of most of the major factory teams in its class. In 1999, Panoz founded the American Le Mans Series with the aim of bringing European-style endurance sports car racing to the U.S.

Review: The LittleBits Code Kit for Kids

Programming is a pursuit that rewards creativity and problem solving, but even for those interested in computers, it’s not exciting or glamorous. When it comes to getting young people interested in computer programming, this can be a problem. We all know most devices today are dependent on the achievements of enterprising engineers and software developers, but it’s still hard to communicate that reality to kids. So enter LittleBits’ newest product called the Code Kit.

lb1-640x332 Review: The LittleBits Code Kit for Kids

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LittleBits’ kit offering has building blocks fitted with circuit boards, buttons, switches, wires, and other stuff that interlock magnetically. With LittleBits, inventors of all ages can build gadgets ranging from musical instruments and self-driving vehicles to a variety of internet-connected smart home hacks. The Code Kit incorporates a simple-to-use visual programming language that’s perfectly suited for children learning to code for the first time.

lb3-640x331 Review: The LittleBits Code Kit for Kids

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This particular kit is intended for kids in grades 3-8, and was developed with the help of 29 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) educators. LittleBits designed the Code Kit specifically for classroom learning, but can still be used at home. Everything is extremely easy to set up, but challenging to master for any student.

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Upon opening the Code Kit, the child is presented with 16 color-coded bits organized into easy-to-understand categories. Blue bits represent the power source, pink bits are inputs such as buttons and switches, orange bits are wires and connectors, and green bits are outputs such as LED displays and speakers. The Code Kit is also the first LittleBits product to come with a rechargeable battery packed in, which is sure to please teachers who, in the past, were dependent on a supply of 9-volts for projects like these.

lb4-640x328 Review: The LittleBits Code Kit for Kids

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At the heart of the Code Bit is the programmable microprocessor with support for three inputs and outputs. It wirelessly connects to the Code Kit app on any PC, Mac, or Chromebook through a USB dongle. This easy setup makes the Code Kit a delight to use. As long as that connection is plugged in to the computer and the circuit is powered by the included rechargeable battery or through the computer’s USB port, you can instantly send new code to the Code Bit at any time. This makes trial and error adjustments fast and seamless. It’s easy to keep adjusting the code you’ve written for any prototype changes on the fly, and this allows the kids to instantly see the results of their hard work.

The app comes with directions to make four games of varying difficulty such as Ultimate Shootout, Hot Potato of Doom, Rockstar Guitar, and Tug of War. However, there are many more tutorials that can teach computer science principles individually, as well as lessons for educators hosted on Google Docs. LittleBits encourages teachers to edit and remix these lessons on the fly for their specific classroom. The code for each lesson is also pre-written so kids can work backwards for a deeper understanding of the logic, rather than mindlessly following directions.

Amazon is Spending $13.7 Billion to Buy Whole Foods

On Friday, Amazon announced officially that it is buying American supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The online retail giant further announced that the acquisition is technically happening as part of a merger agreement that will see Amazon take over the supermarket’s total existing debt and buy out its stocks at $42 for every share. All Whole Foods stores will continue to operate under the Whole Foods brand once the deal is complete. The totality of the deal is expected to happen and finish off later this year, but is subject to approval by regulators and the supermarket’s shareholders.

am1-640x328 Amazon is Spending $13.7 Billion to Buy Whole Foods

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According to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, as mentioned in the official statement, “Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy. Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades, and they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

am6-640x390 Amazon is Spending $13.7 Billion to Buy Whole Foods

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Whole Foods and its main headquarters will remain in Austin, Texas. The company’s CEO, John Mackey, will also remain in his post and not be replaced by someone else. The company recently changed over its board of directors in an effort to survive what The New York Times called the “greatest crisis of confidence” in the 37-year history of Whole Foods.

am3-640x407 Amazon is Spending $13.7 Billion to Buy Whole Foods

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Again, according to Jeff Bezos in the continued statement, “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers.”

am4-640x332 Amazon is Spending $13.7 Billion to Buy Whole Foods

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Everyone knows that online store giant Amazon has opened its own physical location stores in many locations in recent years, including bookstores and a small, experimental sort of convenience supermarket – Grab and Go – with no cashiers or checkout lines. Of course, it has been delivering groceries for years under the label of Amazon Fresh, but the company has been vocal the past years about wanting to expand all their efforts by way of establishing a physical presence across the country.

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In December, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was exploring ways to open up to 2,000 new grocery store locations under its own brand. Jeff Bezos first built the Amazon empire through online shopping, at the same time, building and stocking warehouses around the world in order to better fulfill those orders through mail delivery.

am5-640x329 Amazon is Spending $13.7 Billion to Buy Whole Foods

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However, this online shopping empire is now under siege by other online shopping competitors that are attempting to get more than their share of the pie in the online shopping world. So Amazon has also recently gone after the rest of the supply chain involved with the process of physical grocery stores and other business aspects. The company owns thousands of tractor trailers, leases aircraft from Boeing, has experimented with drone delivery, and has been working on developing its own shipping and logistics technologies, not to mention the fact that Bezos owns a space company also wanting to put the first man on Mars.

According to the UN, World Population will Grow by 1 Billion by 2030; In 7 Years India will Overtake China as Most Crowded Country

The world’s population will have an additional one billion people by the year 2030, and may even reach almost 10 billion by the year 2050, according to a United Nations report. The world is currently at a population of 7.6 billion. This predicted population ballooning is mostly driven by high birth rates in Africa. Also in the UN report, India will surpass China as the most crowded in the next seven years, while Nigeria will overtake the United States and become the world’s third most populous country by 2050. Europe, which currently has a birth rate of only 1 child per woman, is set to see a decline in its population in the only 10 years.

un1-640x317 According to the UN, World Population will Grow by 1 Billion by 2030; In 7 Years India will Overtake China as Most Crowded Country

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The report, conducted by the UN’s Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, mentions that roughly 83 million people are added to the world’s population each year. This upward trend is expected to continue in spite of a continuing downward trend in fertility rates that has fallen steadily for the past 4 to 5 decades. The UN report includes information on the populations of 233 countries and territories of the world. The U.N. agency forecasts that from now through 2050 half the world’s population growth will be concentrated in just nine countries, and these are India, Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, United States, Uganda and Indonesia. Those nations are listed in the order of their expected contribution to total growth.

un3-640x329 According to the UN, World Population will Grow by 1 Billion by 2030; In 7 Years India will Overtake China as Most Crowded Country

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During the same period the populations of 26 African countries are expected to at least double. The new projections also forecast that China, with a current population of 1.4 billion, will be replaced as the world’s most populous country around 2024 by India, which now stands at 1.3 billion. The UN report is titled “The World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision.” In the report, between 2010 and 2015, the world’s women had 2 births per woman over a lifetime, but this number varies widely around the world. Europe has the lowest fertility level, while Africa has the highest fertility, with around 5 births per woman. While this rate is expected to slow significantly in the coming decades, the combined population of 47 countries alone is projected to increase by 33 percent from roughly 1 billion now to 1.9 billion in 2050.

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Surprisingly, the 10 most populous countries with low fertility levels are China, United States, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and United Kingdom. In addition to this, low fertility levels lead to an older population. The report forecasts that the number of people aged 60 or above will more than double from the current 962 million to 2.1 billion in 2050 and more than triple to 3.1 billion by 2100. A quarter of Europe’s population is already aged 60 or over, and that share is projected to reach 35 percent by 2050, and then will level off.