Update on Interplant Internet

first_imgOne of the early “amazing” stories reported in these pages concerned the startling observation that plants use a kind of “email” system in their own interplant “internet” (see 07/13/2001).  What has been learned in the nine years since that story appeared?  Quite a lot, and another fascinating article about plant communication appeared this week in Science Daily.  Scientists at Duke, Cornell and the Universities of Helsinki and Uppsala confirmed that micro-RNAs are engaged in two-way communication as part of gene regulation between cells.  A Duke team member said, “To our knowledge, this is the first solid evidence that microRNAs can move from one cell to another.”  According to the article, this adds to the list of molecules involved in communication: hormones, proteins, and now micro-RNAs.    The packets of information stored in these molecules regulate how tissues and organs are developed in leaves, roots and organs.  Listen to one example of how proteins control a waterproofing layer:They also add a new element to the already complex interplay in Arabidopsis roots between two proteins, known as Scarecrow and Short-root, that Benfey’s team had described in earlier work.  Those proteins interact and restrain one another to allow the assembly of a waterproofing layer of cells that ultimately enables plants to control precisely how much water and nutrients they take in.    The researchers now show that Short-root moves from cells in the plant’s inner vasculature out into the waterproofing endodermis that surrounds it to activate Scarecrow.  Together, those two transcription factors (genes that control other genes) activate microRNAs, known as MIR165a and 166b.  Those microRNAs then head back toward the vascular cells, meeting and degrading another transcription factor (called Phabulosa) as well as other regulatory factors along the way.The two-way communication works across cell borders.  The “internet” nature of these between-cell signals is essential for correct patterning of tissues, the article explained.  Susan Haynes of NIH said, “This study provides important insight into how cells communicate positional information to orchestrate the complex process of tissue and organ development.”    The article concluded by noting that the specific instances discovered here are most likely indicators of a general phenomenon that will be noticed throughout biology.  Duke systems biologist Philip Benfey tacked on an evolutionary comment:He said there’s also reason to think that the specific regulatory interactions they’ve uncovered were key in the evolutionary transition from single-celled algae to land plants.    “ “Formation of vascular tissue with a surrounding endodermal layer that acts as waterproofing was a key milestone in the evolution of land plants,” Benfey said.  “Without a tube to conduct water, you can’t grow a tree or a sunflower.”This comment amounted to a requirement without a specification.It was really painful to reproduce Benfey’s Darwin malapropism in this otherwise fascinating entry.  It’s kind of like having to endure someone telling an insensitive joke or belching during a speech.  Let’s deal with it quickly and move along.  This is another indiscretion from an evolutionist who has not learnt good manners.  One cannot simply assume that miracles will occur on cue, simply because Mr. Darwin needs them.  A single-celled alga needs a tube to conduct water.  Yes, the tube needs a waterproofing layer, too.  Without these requirements being met, you can’t grow a tree or sunflower.  Fine; understood.  But Mr. Benfey, who is going to snap his fingers and call for Tinker Bell to zap the alga with her mutation wand by your script?  How many gazillion algae will have to die before one struggles to get the internet right and the email system working?  Remember, you don’t believe in miracles or end-goals, so this all has to happen by an undirected process with each and every step producing survival value.  LOL, LOL (Lots of Luck, Laugh out Loud).    Ahem; back to our regularly scheduled celebration.  Ladies and gentlemen, we call attention to this fine discovery by the teams at Duke, Cornell, Uppsala and Helsinki, and thank them for dazzling us with insights into another living design that predated our own.  Here we thought we invented the internet, only to find it was there long before our feeble attempts at two-way packetized communication.  My, what will we discover next!(Visited 29 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

A bit of South Africa in London

first_imgOlympic and Paralympic athletes, their families, friends and supporters, and all South Africans will find a home away from home at the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre in Belvedere Road, London.Team South Africa, as well as those citizens going to London to show their support, will be welcomed at the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre, a home away from home for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.Ekhaya Hospitality Centre will be run by a host of national government departments during the sporting spectacular – Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Trade and Industry, International Relations and Co-operation, and Tourism – in partnership with South African Tourism and Brand South Africa.Noluthando Ngendane, Brand South Africa’s public relations officer, explains: “The Ekhaya Hospitality Centre has been created as a base for Team South Africa, its sportsmen and women, their friends and families and, of course, their supporters to gather.”But it is more than that: “It is a place where the spirit of South Africa comes alive,” she adds. Supporters at the New Zealand Ekhaya during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, show their patriotic spirit.(Images: Ekhaya Hospitality Centre) Facilities at the centre will include wi-fi and internet connectivity, meeting rooms, a media and business centre, a business lounge, function facilities, full coverage of all sports events, and a South Africa bar.Ngendane says: “South African businessmen and women can use the facilities to network and showcase the success stories of our beautiful country to visitors from abroad and the rest of Africa.”The 30th Summer Olympics begin on Friday, 27 July and end on Sunday, 12 August.Ekhaya Centre is at Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road, London. It will be officially opened and closed for the Olympics from 26 July to 12 August and for the Paralympics from 28 August to 9 September.Home away from homeEkhaya is a hospitality programme at overseas events presented by the Department of Sport and Recreation in collaboration with partner organisations.“Ekhaya Hospitality Centre is also intended to unite South Africans across race, gender, culture, geographical location, social status and class through sport, thereby promoting social solidarity and common citizenship,” the department notes.South Africa is sending a team of 125 athletes to the Summer Games, with 13 names added to the initial 112 published in June. Blade runner Oscar Pistorius is among them. He will be making history as the first double amputee to compete in the Games. Pistorius will be running in the 4 x 400m relay with Willem de Beer, Ofentse Mogawane and Shaun de Jager.Among other activities, the Ekhaya programme will feature a daily cultural exhibition; Olympic and Paralympic events broadcast on big screens; meetings for London-based local businesses to network; and celebratory events for Team SA.The department describes the Ekhaya Centre as “a home away from home” that provides an opportunity to:All South Africans, at home and abroad, are encouraged to wear their supporters T-shirts on Fridays to show their support for Team SA.Athletes’ villageDubbed Victory Park, the athletes’ village in Stratford, East London, has a uniquely British feel. It’s open for business from 16 July, housing some 17 000 Olympic athletes, 6 000 Paralympians and officials from 203 nations.It covers 36 hectares, with comfortable living quarters and large areas of open space. Competitors dine in a huge 225m x 80m tent, which is large enough to accommodate about 100 double-decker buses.This facility, which can seat 5 500 at a time, is open 24 hours a day. The menu includes popular British staples such as fish and chips, as well as Asian and halaal food. There is also a McDonald’s on site.The social hub of the village is a pub called the Globe Centre which, while it boasts 10 pool tables, live music and karaoke, will not serve a drop of alcohol. After the Olympics, the village will be converted into residential accommodation.Source: Mediaclublast_img read more

5 women giving Africa’s entrepreneurs a helping hand

first_imgThere are thousands of African women creating successful businesses, leaving inspiration and change in their wake, and in a small way helping to uplift Africa’s narrative. The five women below are making massive strides in their respective business sectors, changing their industries and improving business for other women in Africa. Women all over Africa are changing the content’s narrative, writes Graça Machel on the World Economic Forum website. (Image: Benedikt von Loebell, WEF, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via Flickr)• Girls in space! Africa’s first private satellite – designed by schoolgirls • How can digital technology boost growth in Africa?• Connecting women to technology• Robotic gliders boost for ocean research• Meet the global leaders heading WEF Africa 2016 Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel TrustAll these women are members of the Graça Machel Trust, a pan-African advocacy organisation that focuses on women’s rights, children’s rights and governance and leadership in Africa. Their Multiplying Faces, Amplifying Voices campaign aims to build a network of highly qualified, active and effective women across the continent to become a voice in areas where they are currently underrepresented. This includes the Network of African Businesswomen (NABW), Network of African Women in Agribusiness (AWAB) and New Faces New Voices (NFNV), a programme that focuses on expanding the role and influence of women in the financial sector.Joy Ndungutse: Founder and CEO of Gahaya Links (Rwanda) Changing economies by commercialising cultureJoy Ndungutse spent her childhood and early adult years in exile due to political instability in Rwanda.Driven by ambition, Joy’s strong desire to work towards the empowerment of women translated into a weaving initiative when she moved back to Rwanda after the genocide. While running a hotel and the country’s first furniture store, she trained local women in rural areas and designed baskets, modern in style and shape, that these women could make using traditional weaving skills and techniques. This journey gave birth to Gahaya Links, a successful social enterprise in Rwanda that works with over 4 000 weavers to make traditional baskets that are exported to the US and Japan and sold through leading department stores.Joy notes that, “It is a delight to see the fruits of this project and to see an increase in the number of women in Rwanda achieving financial independence.”She continues: “It is also encouraging to see that the local culture is alive and vibrant, and that using what we have, we have managed to make such an impact on the lives of others, and on creating awareness of what Rwanda has to offer to the world.”However, she highlights that although some progress has been made in Rwanda, a lot still needs to be done to increase financial inclusion of women, educate women on taxation and business practices, as these still remain big challenges for women in business. She identifies certain key issues such as geographical access to financial institutions, information on financial information and products, and access to capital as barriers for women to enter into business.According to Joy, “most rural women in Rwanda lack the knowledge to organize businesses in a formal way. It’s critical to educate them on key issues such as new business taxation policies and the simplified tax regime that exempts them from to allow them kickstart and build sustainable businesses.”She highlights that a lot more work needs to be done to educate and create awareness of the importance of formalizing and growing informal women owned businesses.Hadia Gondji: Managing Director at Hadia Seed Production, Hadia Flowers and Hadia Supermarket (Ethiopia)Challenging the status quo to create opportunities for womenHadia is the country director of the New Faces New Voices Ethiopia Chapter and is a pioneer in the transportation, agriculture and horticulture industries in Ethiopia. In agriculture she is involved in hybrid grain multiplication and through her business she teaches farmers in the country to improve their yields.Hadia says: “We normally work with small-scale farmers to help them improve their production and we teach female farmers free of charge.”As president of the Ethiopian Women Exporters Association, she has seen production by female farmers increase, and exports of different produce such as coffee, fruit, vegetables and flowers improve. Hadia is also one of the founders of Enat Bank, the only financial institution in Ethiopia that specifically targets women.She explains, “In Ethiopia it is still very difficult for women to get into business and politics. Although things are getting better, it remains hard for women to do business, as the environment is not conducive, banks want collateral before giving financial support and women do not own any property. The houses and farms belong to men.”“Enat Bank was launched to assist women by getting money from investors to deposit as collateral for women in business, and we see that the bank is making a great difference to women business owners.”Hadia highlights that creating a strong business network for women in Africa is essential in ensuring that business opportunities improve for women on the continent. As evidenced by the Graça Machel Trust, the role of such networks and advocacy groups is invaluable in connecting likeminded businesswomen across the continent.Elizabeth Swai: Managing Director of AKM Glitters Company Limited (Tanzania) Driving the agenda for women in businessA self-starter, Elizabeth Swai runs a thriving poultry business that has expanded its operations to include small-scale farmers in its supply chain. Her business model makes a conscious effort to include those parties that would normally find themselves excluded from the formalized market.Elizabeth says that although the Tanzanian government has expressed commitment to supporting female entrepreneurship, women still face a great number of obstacles. Challenges such as cultural barriers, the right to property and decision making, stiff competition, corruption and bureaucracy, and a lack of awareness from women themselves, make it extremely hard for women in Africa to build a successful business.She also serves as lead and coordinator of African Women in Agribusiness, holds a seat in the Network of African Women in Business, is a founder member of the African Agriculture Academy, and is an active member of the World Poultry Association.According to Elizabeth, her involvement with the women’s networks and associations is aimed at representing the needs of women in Tanzania.She says: “I am involved with all of these organisations in order to represent other women. Defragmentation is a poison, so women need to partner with other women, networks, associations, men and their gigantic enterprises with muscle to be able to achieve the achievable.”She notes: “I created a business model that is inclusive in order to enable ease of access to finance and technical expertise, but also to work with more women in rural areas and create employment for the youth.”Elizabeth Magaya: Managing Director of Blissford Investments (Zimbabwe) Taking giant steps, one step at a timeElizabeth Magaya became an entrepreneur at the age of 10 to help look after her siblings after her parents’ divorce. She went from vegetable vendor to owning a group of companies that includes a booming construction business, and has recently diversified into horticulture, landscape and interior design. At the age of 52, she went back to school to finish what she wasn’t able to start as a child and graduated at the age of 56.She is the epitome of self-made success and attributes this to hard work, sheer determination and a constant drive for perfection.According to Elizabeth, “the biggest challenges with women in business in Africa are the women themselves.”She explains: “Most women are still marginalised and still depend on men to make decisions for them and give them permission to do things. I believe women should be aggressive, start networking and start to expose themselves. They should see every situation and challenge as a bull and take it by the horns.”“To empower themselves, women must realise that it is possible to start, and you can start small, you don’t need to be great or big to start, begin where you are and the rest will follow. Never mind your background, where you started or where you came from. If you use your hands and mind you will reach your destiny,” she says.Grace Mijiga-Mhango: Director of Agriseed and African Women in Agribusiness (Malawi)Building businesses that transform livesGrace specialises in commodity trading and seed multiplication and has built successful businesses that trade in Malawi and across the continent. Having been with the Graça Machel Trust since 2011, she is one of the pioneers that help shape the Trust’s vision. She conceptualized the African Food Basket Project that promotes the growing of indigenous seeds led by women farmers to raise the yields of staple crops like maize, soya beans and pigeon peas. The overall project aims to benefit 50,000 women across grain production value chains in five countries over the next five years.Grace has incredible vision which she shares passionately with those interested in her work and those that share similar interests and beliefs. She sees herself as an agent of change, and is committed to working to support others to reach their full potential and achieve meaningful change in their lives.The Graça Machel Trust, through its advocacy work, seeks to continue in extending its arm to more women across the continent, to effect and influence a change in thinking about women-owned businesses as a channel for Africa’s economic development. The trust seeks to grow women-owned businesses across Africa, and to empower female entrepreneurs to realize their full potential.This article was originally published on the WEF website as part of its Africa series.Former South African and Mozambican first lady Machel is a renowned global advocate for the rights of women and children. A social and political activist for many decades, she serves in various capacities in several organisations. One of these is the Elders, a group of independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights, brought together in 2007 by her husband, Nelson Mandela.Machel also contributes to the Africa Progress Panel and, like Adesina, the MDG Advocates Panel. She has been named an eminent person in the GAVI Alliance, and works on the UN Foundation’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Machel chairs the board of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, and is chancellor of the University of Cape Town.Watch this to see some of the top female innovators who participated in WEF on Africa:last_img read more

Understanding Military Homecoming After Deployment

first_imgSource: Knobloch, L. K., Knobloch-Fedders, L. M., & Yorgason, J. B. (2019). Mental health symptoms and the reintegration difficulty of military couples following deployment: A longitudinal application of the relational turbulence model. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75, 742-765. By Leanne Knobloch, University of IllinoisFor many military couples, deployment can be a seemingly endless countdown to the service member’s homecoming. But, after the big day finally arrives and the welcome home ceremony is over, what’s next for military couples?A new study our research team published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology provides insight into the transition from deployment to reintegration. Our project was funded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs through the Military Operational Medicine Research Program. My co-authors on the study included my sister, Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders from Marquette University, and our collaborator, Dr. Jeremy Yorgason from Brigham Young University.We had two goals for our investigation. First, we wanted to map out the transition from deployment to reintegration. Second, we wanted to identify factors that predict challenges along the way.We conducted the study by recruiting 1,100 individuals who were part of 555 military couples, and we asked them to complete an online questionnaire once per month for eight consecutive months after the service member’s homecoming from deployment. Each month, returning service members and at-home partners reported on their mental health, their relationship, and their difficulty with reintegration.Participants included active duty, reserve component, and National Guard military couples. The study involved military couples from all branches of service.Our findings showed that military couples reported the most difficulty with reintegration approximately four to five weeks after homecoming, and at-home partners reported more difficulty with reintegration than returning service members at each time point.These results highlight the importance of supporting at-home partners. The timing of help matters as well. In particular, four to five weeks after homecoming may be a key opportunity for offering services.Other findings revealed that mental health symptoms predicted later difficulty with reintegration. Posttraumatic stress symptoms for returning service members, and depressive symptoms for at-home partners, made the transition especially challenging.Based on these results, it’s important to know the symptoms of mental health problems and be ready to seek help if needed. Readjusting after deployment can be tough, and reaching out for assistance if necessary is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.Our data also showed that characteristics of people’s relationships predicted difficulty with reintegration down the road. The transition was harder for partners who had questions about their relationship and who got in the way of each other’s daily routines.What do these results mean? As much as possible, people should open the lines of communication, share information, ask questions, and learn where their partner is coming from. And, carefully building new routines and making sure those routines run smoothly should be helpful as well. Leanne K. Knobloch (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison) is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. Her research examines how people communicate during times of transition, including how military families navigate the deployment cycle and how romantic couples cope with depression. Her work has been honored by the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association, the Biennial Article Award from the International Association for Relationship Research, and the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois.last_img read more

Animating Text in After Effects

first_imgIn this video tutorial, learn how to control text in After Effects with text animators in three easy steps.Top image via Shutterstock.One of the most exciting aspects of working in After Effects is the variety of ways to animate text. The transform properties of a layer offer a variety of options for keyframing and animation. However, if you want full control over your text layers, you need to learn how to use text animators.Text animators allow you to animate specific characters, words, and lines. It’s as simple as picking a property, specifying a range, and then animating to your heart’s desire. Let’s take a look at how to use a text animator in three easy steps. Step 1: Add an AnimatorFirst, I’ll add several animators to specify which properties to animate. I’ve added three animators to my Text Animator text layer. These include animators for Line Spacing, Tracking, and Rotation. I renamed each animator to make my animation workflow simple. If another person opens my project, they can easily identify what’s going on.Step 2: Select the RangeNext, I’ll bring the animation to life with range selectors. Each animator has a range selector with start, end, and offset animation options. Think of range selectors like masks. I’m going to select the range of the text layer that I want the property change to affect. I can specify the range selection by characters, words, lines, and several other advanced options. To bring the animation to life, I’ve adjusted each property to its beginning position. Once I have a good starting point, I’ll add keyframes to each range selector’s end option.Step 3: Time the AnimationFinally, I’ll fine-tune and time my animation by adjusting the end keyframes to match my sound effects. To help make things easier, I’ve renamed the range selectors to the match the name of the properties. For my rotation animator, I’ve changed the range to effect words instead of just characters. Again, when using a text animator, it’s common to only add keyframes to the start or end options of the range selector.Do you know other text animation tips? Let us know in the comments.last_img read more

Congress candidate leading in Dantewada Assembly bypoll

first_imgThe Congress candidate was leading by a margin of 2,778 votes in the Dantewada Assembly bypoll where counting was taken up on Friday morning, officials said. The counting of votes in the bypoll held on September 23 in the Naxal-affected seat began at 8 at the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) campus in Dantewada district headquarters,a poll official said. As per the early trends, Devti Karma of the Congress was leading by a margin of 2,778 votes against her nearest rival Ojaswi Mandavi of the BJP, he said. Ms. Karma had secured 6,720 votes, while Ms. Mandavi got 3942 votes after initial rounds of counting, he added. The ruling Congress and main opposition BJP are locked in a direct fight in this seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribe, where bypoll was necessitated after the death of sitting BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi in a Maoist attack in April this year.last_img read more