Are We on the Path to Peak Water?
By Kylie Schultz & Amber Billings
Scientists and experts fear that humanity is reaching the point of peak water — the point at which freshwater is being consumed faster than it is being replenished or available. In the infographic above we take a look at the amount of water use around the world. Can we cut back before we reach the point of no return?
Blood of world’s oldest woman hints at limits of life
Death is the one certainty in life – a pioneering analysis of blood from one of the world’s oldest and healthiest women has given clues to why it happens.
Born in 1890, Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was at one point the oldest woman in the world. She was also remarkable for her health, with crystal-clear cognition until she was close to death, and a blood circulatory system free of disease. When she died in 2005, she bequeathed her body to science, with the full support of her living relatives that any outcomes of scientific analysis – as well as her name – be made public.
Researchers have now examined her blood and other tissues to see how they were affected by age.
What they found suggests, as we could perhaps expect, that our lifespan might ultimately be limited by the capacity for stem cells to keep replenishing tissues day in day out. Once the stem cells reach a state of exhaustion that imposes a limit on their own lifespan, they themselves gradually die out and steadily diminish the body’s capacity to keep regenerating vital tissues and cells, such as blood.
In van Andel-Schipper’s case, it seemed that in the twilight of her life, about two-thirds of the white blood cells remaining in her body at death originated from just two stem cells, implying that most or all of the blood stem cells she started life with had already burned out and died.
Bizarre? Or beautiful? The ocean sunfish is a visitor fave. You can help save molas by reducing use of disposable plastic bags. When these wind up in the ocean, they look like jellies—a mola’s favorite meal.
Brahmin moth, Brahmaea wallichii
The Brahmin moth, Brahmaea wallichii (Brahmaeidae) is a stunning moth up to 160 mm wingspan, with wavy lines and alternating light and dark colors that provide considerable camouflage on tree bark.
Brahmaea wallichii is found in the north of India, Myanmar, China, Taiwan and Japan.
As shown in the bottom photo, the caterpillar of this moth is equally breathtaking. This one is in the 5th instar; from the egg to this stage it only needed 3 1/2 weeks, and it grew in this time from only 5 mm to a length of 9 cm.
In wild the larvae feed on Fraxinus excelsior, Ligustrum and Common Lilac. They are able to neutralize plant toxins produced by Ligustrum. The species is named after the botanist Nathaniel Wallich.
NGC 4921 is a barred spiral galaxy in the Coma Cluster, located in the constellation Coma Berenices. It is about 320 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy has a nucleus with a bar structure that is surrounded by a distinct ring of dust that contains recently formed, hot blue stars. The outer part consists of unusually smooth, poorly distinguished spiral arms.
In 1976, Canadian astronomer Sidney Van den Bergh categorized this galaxy as “anemic” because of the low rate at which stars are being formed. He noted that it has “an unusually low surface brightness and exhibits remarkably diffuse spiral arms”.
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA
You never get something for nothing, especially not in health care. Every test, every incision, every little pill brings benefits and risks.
Nowhere is that balance tilting more ominously in the wrong direction than in the once halcyon realm of infectious diseases, that big success story of the 20th century. We have had antibiotics since the mid-1940s — just about as long as we have had the atomic bomb, as Dr. Martin J. Blaser points out — and our big mistake was failing long ago to appreciate the parallels between the two.
On a per weight basis, humans pack in more neurons than any other species. That’s what makes us so smart!
From the TED-Ed Lesson What percentage of your brain do you use? - Richard E. Cytowic
Animation by TOGETHER