Sunday, 31 July 2016

How your smartphone can help find a cure for Zika!

When your laptop is sitting idly on your desk or your smartphone is tucked snugly in your pocket, the devices could be powering a worldwide effort to find a cure for the Zika virus.
OpenZika, a project on IBM’s World Community Grid, crowdsources the spare computing power of thousands of devices to help scientists look for possible treatments to combat Zika, a dangerous mosquito-borne disease spreading at unprecedented rates in the Americas and Caribbean islands.
At least four cases of Zika in Florida were likely caused by bites from local mosquitoes, marking the first time Zika was found to be transmitted locally in the continental United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Friday.
Zika, which can also spread through sex, can cause birth defects and brain damage in children whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.
The OpenZika team is using the virtual supercomputer to sort through millions of chemical compounds to find ones that could potentially block Zika’s proteins — the parts that allow the virus to survive in infected people and spread throughout the body.
Scientists in Brazil, the epicenter of the Zika crisis, and the U.S. are now doing virtual experiments on molecules that are already found in drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or deemed safe for use by pregnant women.
The idea is to weed out thousands of ineffective compounds and create a narrow pool of possible candidates, which scientists could then study in real-world labs and eventually test in clinical drug trials.
“The goal would be to find a molecule that interferes with one or more of the proteins in the virus,” Sean Ekins, a British pharmacologist who convened the OpenZika team, toldMashable.
“Then if someone contracts the virus, we can give them the drug as soon as they realize they’ve been bitten by a mosquito,” said Ekins, who is also the CEO of Collaborations Pharmaceuticals Inc. near Raleigh, North Carolina.
Their findings could advance research in not only the Zika virus but also other diseases spread by aedes aegypti mosquitoes, including dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya.

Zika's growing threat

No vaccine or treatment for Zika exists right now. Researchers around the world are racing to develop solutions to stop the spread of the mysterious disease, a quest that could take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
The World Health Organization estimates Zika could infect millions of people in dozens of countries. 
The CDC said more than 1,650 cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S. But all of those cases — except the four confirmed in Florida — were from travelers returning home after visiting other countries with Zika outbreaks.
While the reason for the outbreak is still unclear, the threat of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases is growing in general partly because of global warming, climate scientists say.
In the U.S., for instance, warmer temperatures and thicker humidity since the 1980s has boosted the number of days with ideal conditions for mosquitoes. This raises the risk of infectious bites, Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization, reported this week.
“As the climate warms and humidity increases across the nation, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, like Zika, is becoming more prevalent for Americans,” according to the report.
Despite the threat, U.S. policymakers have yet to free up more funding to fight the disease. 
A House of Representatives bill to provide $1.1 billion for Zika research failed in the Senate in mid-July, shortly before Congress started its seven-week recess. The White House warned the funding shortage could delay or stall vaccine development and make it harder to track any spread of the virus.

Crowd-sourced computing 

In the absence of federal funding, philanthropic initiatives like OpenZika are helping to fill the research gaps.
OpenZika launched in May, and since then, more than 50,000 volunteers worldwide have donated the equivalent of roughly 4,000 years’ worth of computing time from their PCs, Macs and Android devices. 
Ekins and his team of Brazilian and U.S. scientists have so far conducted nearly 18,000 virtual experiments — a feat he said would have otherwise taken researchers years and millions of dollars to complete without a supercomputer.
To join the World Community Grid, volunteers install a basic toolkit. IBM says the software is “dumb:” it can only determine if the computer is available, run the specific algorithms it’s been assigned, and transfer the results to the project’s servers.
The software can’t access or share a device’s personal files, IBM says.
It can only download research tasks and upload results when a device is connected to a wireless network, so it won’t use up a smartphone’s mobile data plan. The software also won’t drain your battery; it only runs if the device is connected to a power source.
“A lot of people volunteer their time to work on projects, and a lot of people donate cash. But what people also have is the unused cycle time on their individual devices,” Stan Litow, IBM’s vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, told Mashable
“Here’s something that is an asset to the researchers, and it doesn’t really cost you anything,” he added.
The World Community Grid isn’t limited to Zika research. Scientists have also used the 12-year-old initiative to identify new drug candidates for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, discover new compounds for photovoltaics, and find ways to use nanotechnology to produce clean drinking water.
IBM said its research partners have published more than 35 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals based on their research with the supercomputer.

OpenZika has its limits

The OpenZika project could play a key role in accelerating research on antiviral treatments for Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, outside experts said.
“This may intensify that work,” Janet Smith, director of the Center for Structural Biology at the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute, told Mashable. “It looks like a good idea.”
Smith recently led a research team that was able to identify and map out the tiny fingerprints that only a Zika molecule has. 
The discovery, reported this week, may help distinguish Zika molecules from other similar viruses like West Nile and dengue fever, which in turn could help pregnant women figure out if they’ve been affected with Zika in the past or during pregnancy, she said.
Still, Smith said the race to develop antiviral drugs for Zika — which OpenZika hopes to do — has its limits from a public health perspective.
For instance, if a pregnant woman realizes she’s already infected with Zika, an antiviral drug might not be able to protect her unborn child from developing birth defects or brain disorders.
“It seems to me that it might be more important to come up with a vaccine, so that you would be protected,” Smith said. 
Paul Roepe, who co-directs the Georgetown Center for Infectious Disease in Washington, expressed a similar concern.
While the OpenZika project is an “admirable effort, and an important concept,” he said that finding vaccines to stop people from contracting Zika in the first place would be more beneficial than the yearslong effort to develop treatments. 
Even better than vaccines is stopping mosquitoes from spawning in the first place, he said in a phone interview.
“It’s a bigger bang for your buck, too. Eliminate mosquitoes, you eliminate four of these diseases,” Roepe said, referring to Zika, dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya. 
“The battle is really with the mosquitoes, it’s not even necessarily with the drugs and vaccines,” he added.

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Benefits of bananas for a healthy life!

# Bananas help you feel more full, thus reduce appetite.

Bananas are good to eat before gym, they improve endurance and reduce muscle cramps.

# Bananas reduce bad cholesterol.

# Bananas help fight obesity.

# Bananas fight sugar cravings.

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Remember human barbie? This is what she's up to now!

Lesser known fact:
Not many people know this but before Valeria earned her name as human Barbie, she finished her bachelor’s degree in architecture from an Ukrainian university. This Russian model is undoubtedly a great combination of brain and beauty.

Early modelling days:
Valeria started modelling at a young age. Her first big victory in the field of modelling was during “Miss Diamond Crown of the World” contest where she bagged the first prize among 300 other contestants.

Instant fame:
After winning the World wide beauty contest, she did multiple photo-shoots with Russian media. That’s when she was recognized as a doll like model and instantly became popular around the world for being the ‘Human Barbie’.

Accused of surgeries:
Due to her perfect doll features, Lukyanova was accused multiple number of times for undergoing several plastic surgeries to get that look. However, she still maintains that she has got only breast implants done and nothing else. She uses makeup to enhance her features.

No food, only air:
Valeria put herself through great struggle to get the Barbie body. She embraced the belief of Breatharianism which suggests that one can live off of air and light and doesn’t need to food to survive.

New inspiration:
By now Valeria had become a recognizable face around the world. But after some time, Lukyanova started disliking her fragile body. She started looking for new inspiration and some new heights to achieve.

From Barbie to Amazon girl:
Valeria got motivated to achieve the Amazonian look. She transformed herself completely from a fragile doll-like lady to a fierce and strong woman from Amazon. While that took a lot of hard work, Valeria was all up for it.

Spiritual instructor:
Lukyanova had been inclined towards spirituality from a very young age, and now she is working as an instructor the school of Out-of-Body Travel. She teaches her students how to leave their physical body and travel in their spiritual self.

Passion for Music:
Not just modelling and spirituality, Valeria is also highly passionate about music. She considers herself an “opera-new age” singer. She believes that when she sings, it puts her in a deep trance that allows her to explore her hidden inner self.

Career in EDM:
In 2015, Valeria released her first single ‘Jack your barbie’ with a Russian DJ. She is currently reported to be working on a new album where she’ll sing in forgotten ancient languages.

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Friday, 29 July 2016

Some facts about "Hepatitis" that you must know!

The world celebrated Hepatitis Day and here is what you must know about Hepatitis:

# There are five unique hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis A is most commonly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. It can also be spread through sex or via injecting drugs.

# Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through exposure to infected blood, semen, and other body fluids.

# Hepatitis C is the most common type of hepatitis and transmitted through exposure to infected blood by injection drug use, unprotected sex is also possible, although less common.

# Hepatitis D infections occur only in those who are infected with hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis D can increase the risk of developing cirrhosis, scarring of the liver caused by continuous, long-term liver damage.

# The hepatitis E virus is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food and occasionally lead to acute liver failure.

Symptoms: Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Prevention's: Vaccinations, blood transfusions, and other healthcare procedures can further prevent the spread of hepatitis B and C, while promoting hygienic and clean food and water can reduce the risk of hepatitis A and E infection. 

With a better understanding of prevention, awareness and timely diagnosis, thousands of lives could be saved every year.

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5 reasons you must include "fennel seeds" in your diet!

Helps with weight loss: Fennel is known to help speed up your metabolism as well as aid the breaking down of fat. It also helps suppress your appetite and provides you with a satiated feeling. This is exactly why consuming fennel after a meal is a norm in Indian households. If you’re focused on weight loss however, we suggest you mix some powdered fennel seeds with water and take it twice a day.

Makes you look younger: Being high in antioxidants, fennel seeds are perfect to prevent degeneration in the body and help slow down the ageing process too. There is no better way to maintain a glowing complexion than by chewing a few fennel seeds a day or consuming it as a tea.

Aids digestion: Being high in dietary fibre, fennel seeds are very useful for facilitating digestion. They also aid in alleviating a myriad of digestive problems like heartburn, colic, bloating, flatulence and intestinal gas.

Relieves water retention: Regular consumption of fennel seed tea is beneficial to you in more ways than one. Because of its diuretic properties, fennel seeds are perfect in relieving water retention from your body. It is perfect for reducing the risk of UTIs, too.

Relieves menstrual problems: Fennel is a rich source of iron, folic acid, potassium and vitamin C, which makes it very useful is reducing the risk of anaemia and menstrual problems in women. 
Fennel seeds help regulate menstrual flow as well as relieve symptoms associated with PMS and menopausal disorders.

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

How sitting affects both our mind and body!

Heart disease
While sitting, the muscles burn less fat and the blood flow is slow. As a result, fatty acids can easily block the heart. Sitting, thus, is related to cardiac arrest, high levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.

Strained neck and sore back 
We often tend to sit leaning forward glued to our laptops at our desks. This is extremely harmful as it can cause stiffness in the neck muscles and upper back. Sitting straight with a relaxed shoulder posture is always the right way.

According to a study done by the American Cancer Society, women who sit for more than 6 hours a day have 10% greater risk of cancer than women who sit for less than 3 hours a day. The sample size of the study was 77, 462 women.

Sitting for too long brings down the body’s capability to handle blood sugar. In a study, conducted by the University of Leicester with a sample size of nearly 800,000 people, it was found that people who sat for the longest periods were twice as likely to get diabetes.

Sitting more often than not leads to slower metabolism that is directly linked to weight gain.

Muscle degeneration
When we sit on a chair for a long time, our abdominal, back or hip muscles do not get exercised. As a result, one develops mushy abs and tight hips.

Affects the brain
Sitting doesn’t give space for our lungs to expand, ultimately leading to pumping less oxygen throughout the body and to the brains which eventually disrupts our concentration and slows down the functions of our brains. 

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Estonia's triplets seek Olympic glory!

Estonia's olympic team female marathon runners Luik triplets, Can you tell them apart?

Petite, Platinum blonde, blue-eyed and identical triplets will be running the marathon together at Rio Olympics. They'll be creating history as none other such case is been recorded anywhere. 

The triplets (L-R) Lily, Liina and Leila Luik are going through the final phase of their training session in Tartu, Estonia, May 26, 2016. The shirts read "Trio for Rio". 

The world will be astonished to watch them together and if they manage to finish in the podium, that'll be the icing on the cake.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Having A Pet Enhances Your Life In Many Ways!

Animals and humans have shared a bond since time immemorial. Sadly in today’s times, we hear of terrible inhuman acts of violence on our furry friends. Dogs being burnt and even buried alive, cats eyes’ being poked, elephants tied 24/7 in temples, cows being slaughtered and transported in the most unimaginable circumstances and what not. Despite the atrocities that humans commit on animals, they continue to suffer in silence while still being loving and showering humans with positivity.
Having a pet at home is a natural mood elevator as being around them, patting them or even watching fishes swim reduces stress due to our body’s response which causes serotonin to be released. Serotonin is a chemical which is associated with well-being. The stress hormone cortisol is also reduced in the presence of an animal.
Owning a pet is known to manage/ reduce blood pressure.  In one study of 240 couples, pet owners had lower blood pressure and heart rates during rest than people who did not own a pet. Researchers have seen lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in people who own pets compared to those who don’t. This could also be due to lifestyle changes brought about as a result of owning a  pet, like playing with them or taking them for long walks etc.
Animals are being increasingly used for various therapies including fighting depression. Petting an animal has a soothing effect and the love that one receives in return is unmatchable - unconditional and pure.
In a research study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, it was stated that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems and lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by 33 percent! It may sound strange but researchers have found that children with homes with cats are less likely to develop asthma as they get older though if their mothers had a cat allergy, the chances of an allergy increase manifold.
Research has shown the long-term benefits of owning a cat. A study was done which was spread over 20 years and it was found that people who never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Cats are known to have a more calming effect on humans than any other animal, some studies show.  Another study stated that dog owners had a significantly better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Animals help keep our hearts strong and healthy.
Dog owners are known to have better fitness levels as they are more likely to be more physically active by taking their dogs out for walks on a daily basis. Research conducted by the National Institute of Health showed in a study of more than 2,000 adults that dog owners who take their dogs/ pups for walks are less likely to be obese than those who neither own a dog nor take them for walks. Total strangers come up to people walking their dogs and initiate a conversation making one socialize more.
Children with ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who play with pets are likely be more confident and have better self-esteem, apart from releasing the excess nervous energy that they have. Even children with autism benefit from pets around them as animals have a calming effect on them.
Having a pet reduces feelings of loneliness and depression and improves the quality of life exponentially. Animals give us unconditional love; time that we reciprocate the same - a pet, stray or any kind.

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Solar plane circles the globe without using any fuel!

First Leg

Solar Impulse 2 lands with pilot Andre Boschberg at the helm to finish the first leg of its historic round-the-world journey that began in Abu Dhabi on 9 March 2015.

Power Of The Sun

The high-tech plane floats over Muscat near the beginning of its global circumnavigation. The section part of the flight took the aircraft from Muscat to Ahmedebad, India.

Ready For Take Off

Solar Impulse prepares to take off for the third of its 17 journeys that made up its round-the-world trip. This leg crossed India from Ahmedebad to Varanasi. 

In The Cockpit

Pilot Bertrand Piccard makes the last checks before part four of Solar Impulse’s global circumnavigation, flying from Varanasi, India to Mandalay, Myanmar.

Night Flight

Solar Impulse 2 flies over Inwa, the ancient imperial capital in the region of Mandalay, Myanmar during the leg five of the first round-the-world solar flight.

Up In The Air

The aircraft waits to take off from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, China, heading for Nanjing, China.

Ready For Take Off

Yasemine Borschberg waves a Japanese flag as Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Nagoya Komaki airport, with her husband Andre Borschberg as the pilot. Tis eight leg of the journey took the plane to Hawaii.

Taking Wing

The giant wings of Solar Impulse 2 are seen as it glides over the coast of Hawaii, en route to San Fransisco.

Mid-Flight Selfie

Pilot Andre Borschberg enjoys a snack in the cockpit during part 10 of his epic journey. Here the plane is travelling from San Fransisco to Phoenix.

In To Land

Solar Impulse 2 heads back down to earth in Tulsa, completing the 11th leg of its journey.

View From The Cockpit

Pilot AndrĂ© Borschberg takes a picture of the Mississippi River on his way to Dayton, Ohio from Tulsa.

Extreme Selfie

Pilot Bertrand Riccard takes a break from navigating the plane to take a sky-high selfie as he travels to Lehigh Valley from Ohio.

City Lights

The lights of New York City twinkle as Solar Impulse 2 glides over the skyscrapers en route to JFK airport.

Fly By

The fifteenth part of Solar Impulse 2′s journey want from the U.S. over to Sevilla, Spain.

World Wonder

Egypt’s pyramids peek out of a cloud of dust as Solar Impulse 2 flies high above them.

Record Breakers

Pilots Bertrrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg celebrate after landing in Abu Dhabi to finish the first around the world flight without the use of fuel.

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