Campus club on listening seeks members

first_imgThe Listening Club, a burgeoning Harvard organization, is now seeking members. Members will cultivate and hone vanguard listening skills in both subjective and objective contexts; form a vital resource body of listeners performing campus and broader community service; research listening in applied fields of study; and invite active collaboration with other Harvard entities to both liaise with the club and partner on special listening events and activities.A preliminary meeting will take place to discuss the club’s mission and objectives, as well as to designate the founding directors, president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. For more information on the club and the meeting, email bkboos@fas.harvard.edu or call 617.947.7972.last_img

Genes without patents

first_imgAs Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan questioned Myriad Genetics’ attorney about patenting genes, Chris Hansen rejoiced.The attorney said that yes, genes should be patentable. But it was only under the pressure of further questions that he said that chromosomes, too, should be patentable, and — more reluctantly still — organs such as kidneys.“It was all I could do to not leap out of my chair and go, ‘Yaaay!’ ” Hansen said of the spring hearing.To Hansen, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer who led the lawsuit against Myriad Genetics’ patents of two human breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, the exchange augured well for the case’s outcome. The line of questioning seemed to bolster the ACLU’s argument that the genes were a product of nature, like a kidney, and so by law, not patentable. In isolating the genes for breast cancer, it argued, Myriad invented nothing that wasn’t already there.That reasoning ultimately won the day. In its July decision, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that human genes were not patentable, overturning common practice both in the biotech industry and at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, which by the time of the case had issued patents for 20 percent of human genes. The decision also found, however, that synthetic copies of genes, called cDNA, were patentable.Hansen discussed the proceedings and the decision’s ramifications Tuesday at the Science Center. He was joined by George Church, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School; Professor I. Glenn Cohen of Harvard Law School; Judy Norsigian, executive director Our Bodies Ourselves, a nonprofit focused on women’s health; and Tania Simoncelli, former ACLU science adviser and today assistant director for forensic sciences with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology at the Kennedy School, served as moderator.It was Simoncelli who first brought human gene patenting to Hansen’s attention. The pair credited part of the victory to the broad-based legal strategy that involved multiple plaintiffs to illustrate the wider societal cost of patent restrictions. Among the plaintiffs were scientists whose research was restricted by Myriad’s patents — including the lead plaintiff, the Association for Molecular Pathology — patient advocates, and patients themselves, whose diagnostic choices were limited by the patents.Though several plaintiffs were removed from the case after the court ruled they didn’t have standing, Simoncelli said the early momentum forced the federal attorneys representing the Patent Office, also named in the suit, to look beyond patent law in order to investigate the practice’s broader effects. That was a key reason the government switched sides midway through the case, she believed, and may also have prompted the Supreme Court to decide to hear it.After Hansen’s presentation, the others offered their thoughts as part of a panel. Church, who himself holds some 60 patents, said he was among the first geneticists approached by the ACLU and was involved early on, but withdrew later. He became convinced, he said, that the pace of genetic technology’s advance would soon make Myriad’s patents irrelevant, overtaken by cheap whole genome decoding that included analysis of BRCA genes. He also was concerned that even a win wouldn’t be enough because Myriad held related patents it could use to similar effect. And finally, Church said, he was concerned that the alternative to patents, which are open and available to researchers to read and build on, would be a move toward hiding discoveries as trade secrets, which would reduce scientific openness.“I worry about trade secrets quite a bit,” Church said. “Patents are publications; my lab uses them all the time. They look at other people’s patents — we otherwise wouldn’t be able to figure out what the heck they’re doing. We invent on top of it, and things go forward quickly.”Cohen — who filed an amicus brief to the court on behalf of Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT — agreed with the decision but said it provides scant reasoning for lower courts to build on. It might be best for Congress to revisit the issue and devise better legal guidelines, he said.The event, part of a lecture series run by the Kennedy School’s Program on Science, Technology, and Society, was co-sponsored by the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Graduate School of Design.last_img

Toxic chemicals linked to brain disorders in children

first_imgToxic chemicals may be triggering recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children — such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia — according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The researchers say a new global prevention strategy to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.The report will be published online Feb. 15 in Lancet Neurology.“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH. “They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”The report follows up on a similar review conducted by the authors in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits. The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized risks, including manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides), tetrachloroethylene (a solvent), and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).The study outlines possible links between these newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children. The findings include:• Manganese is associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills.• Solvents are linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior.• Certain types of pesticides may cause cognitive delays.Grandjean and co-author Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai, also forecast that many more chemicals than the known dozen or so identified as neurotoxicants contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that is eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, and damaging societies. But controlling this pandemic is difficult because of the scarcity of data to guide prevention, and the huge amount of proof needed for government regulation. “Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” they write.The authors say it’s crucial to control the use of these chemicals to protect children’s brain development worldwide. They propose mandatory testing of industrial chemicals and the formation of a new international clearinghouse to evaluate industrial chemicals for potential developmental neurotoxicity.“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” said Grandjean. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.last_img

Strikes, violence overwhelm Haiti’s crumbling judiciary

first_imgPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s justice system has long been dysfunctional. But in recent years, delayed judicial appointments, a spike in violence and protests by judges and court clerks demanding higher salaries and better working conditions have overwhelmed a system in which some 80% of inmates are being held with no trial amid a rise in what activists say are illegal and arbitrary preventive detentions. The United Nations said in a statement this week that the conditions are so unacceptable that they constitute a violation of the prohibition of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.last_img

Bedbugs!!! Extend Their Stay Off-Broadway

first_img Related Shows The cast includes Chris Hall, Grace McLean, Nicholas Park, Brian Charles Rooney, Danny Bolero, Tracey Conyer Lee, Barry Shafrin, Gretchen Wylder, Courtney Bassett and Colin Scott Cahill. Bedbugs!!! View Comments Good news, the bed bugs aren’t going anywhere soon!?! The girl-meets-bug sci-fi-rock-musical-comedy Bedbugs!!! has extended off-Broadway through November 2; it had originally been set to shutter on October 25. Directed and choreographed by Robert Bartley, the show officially opened on September 14 at the ArcLight Theatre. Featuring music by Paul Leschen and a book and lyrics by Fred Sauter, Bedbugs!!! follows Carly, an exterminator, who is hell-bent on avenging her mother’s bedbug-related death. In an effort to permanently rid the city of its infestation, she accidentally mutates the pests into an army of human-size, intelligent, carnal creatures out for blood and world domination. The tuner premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2008. Show Closed This production ended its run on Nov. 2, 2014last_img

Lower-cost Heat.

first_imgGeorgia’s weather is finally reaching the point that many homeowners are either piling on an extra blanket, turning up the thermostat or building roaring fires in the fireplaces. After all, no one wants to be cold on a winter night — that is, until the energy bills begin to rise. University of Georgia experts say lowering your winter energy bill can be as easy as replacing an air filter. “Just like your automobile, your heating system needs monthly maintenance to perform properly,” said Lisa Ann Kelley, a pollution prevention specialist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Kelley coordinates the Home*A*Syst program in Georgia. “Your heating and cooling system is the single greatest energy consumer in your home,” Kelley said. “But you can reduce the cost of running the system.” Home*A*Syst is a national program that helps homeowners identify pollution problems and ways to correct them. Most heating systems have three parts: (1) the heating unit, (2) the duct or distribution system and (3) the thermostat. Homeowners can save on their heating energy bills by inspecting each of these parts. Kelley said Home*A*Syst offers tips on reducing home energy costs. “If your heating unit is 15 to 25 years old or more, it’s probably not very energy-efficient,” Kelley said. “Even if it still works well, you could greatly benefit by replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model.” If the price of a new system turns you off, Kelley said the energy savings should pay for the unit in only a few years. “If you finance your new unit, the monthly energy savings may exceed the monthly payment,” she said. All machines work more efficiently and safely if you regularly inspect and maintain them. “Forced-air systems include air filters you should change or clean regularly,” she said. Filters remove dust and debris before they reach the air blower and heat-exchange coils. Dirt on heating coils reduces the system’s efficiency. Kelley said your thermostat can be an energy-saving tool, too. “One of the easiest ways to save energy is to set your thermostat at a lower temperature in winter so the system runs less often,” she said. “When the system is constantly cutting on and off, it’s wasting energy.” For the winter, Kelley recommends a setting of 68 degrees during the day and 50 to 60 degrees at night and when no one’s home. Another way to use your thermostat to your advantage is to replace it. “If your thermostat is an older model — one you set to maintain a constant temperature — it should be replaced,” Kelley said. The best thermostat is one designed to adjust temperatures depending on the time. “You can set these digital or clock thermostats to lower the temperature when you’re at work and raise it just before you arrive home,” she said. Or set it to turn the heat down every night at 11 and bring it back up by 6 a.m. Finally, check out your duct or distribution system. More than 90 percent of U.S. home heating systems are forced-air systems. These systems use air ducts to move warm air around the house. “If a duct system leaks, it can waste a lot of energy,” Kelley said. “Inspect your duct systems and make any necessary repairs.” If you find leaks, especially where air enters rooms, repair them with caulking. Your heating system is probably not the only energy-wasting machine in your home. “The best way to know your home’s energy efficiency is to schedule a home energy audit,” Kelley said. “Contact your utility company to see if they offer a home energy audit or can provide energy-saving information for houses like yours.” To assess your own home energy efficiency, contact Kelley at (706) 542-3086 for a Home*A*Syst self-assessment form.last_img

Floating solar passes capacity milestone

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:Global floating solar installations had reached 1.1GW as of September this year, a huge rise from just 10MW at the end of 2014, according to the first report on floating PV from the World Bank and Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS).The report ‘Where Sun Meets Water’ stated that floating solar has the potential to ultimately reach a total of 400GW. So far, China, India and Southeast Asia are leading the charge, with some individual installations going above 100MW in this region.Covering just small areas of reservoirs created by hydropower plants with floating PV can significantly boost plant capacity and the two technologies are complementary, with hydro’s ability to smooth the variable solar output. The floating technology also allows solar to be located closer to urban centres with higher power demand. The report noted that this burgeoning technology has created opportunities to scale up solar globally particularly in areas with high population densities and high demand for land.Floating solar does cost more up-front, but costs over time of floating solar are at par with traditional solar, because floating solar can produce higher energy yield due to the cooling effect of water. The solar systems also reduce evaporation on key water bodies. However, the technology currently suffers from not having a long-standing track record in practice, the threat of possible effects on water quality, anchoring and mooring challenges, and the relative complexity of maintaining some parts of the installations, particularly electrical components.Riccardo Puliti, senior director for Energy and Extractives at the World Bank, said “Floating solar technology has huge advantages for countries where land is at a premium or where electricity grids are weak. Governments and investors are waking up to these advantages, and we are starting to see interest from a wide range of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We fully expect demand to grow for this technology and for floating solar to become a larger part of countries’ plans for expanding renewable energy. It will be important to ensure that best practices are shared among countries and development minimizes any environmental impacts.”More: Floating solar surpasses 1GW globally – World Bank Floating solar passes capacity milestonelast_img

The Need for Speed

first_imgI have a love/hate relationship with speed work. Mostly I hate it, except when I’m in the middle of a workout and feeling strong – then I love it. Almost. Maybe love is too strong a word, but at least I appreciate it. As a high school and collegiate runner, I grew up on speed work, from the torturous Sunday workouts my dad put me through because he thought my high school coach wasn’t pushing me hard enough, to the long tempos in which my college teammates and I would take turns running each other into the ground. Even training for 100km ultras I would suffer through two to three interval or tempo sessions a week.Speed work always made me almost as nervous as races. I’d think about my workout all day long, working myself into a frenzy (and an upset stomach) before even lacing up my running shoes. I knew I was putting way too much pressure on myself but just didn’t know how to relax.All of this is to explain why, a couple of years ago when I decided to back off on my competitive running, I was happy to say goodbye to speed work, once and for all. Farewell to the track. Adieu to the measured tempos on the roads. Sayonara to the stopwatch. Even hill workouts seemed too structured for my liking. I was ready to enjoy myself without timing the effort. Even though I would continue to compete in the longer distances, I figured speed work wasn’t that crucial. How much turnover does one need in order to compete in a 24-hour race?The thing is, once I stopped trying to run fast, I began to run slow. Yes, that should have been self-evident. Of course I was no longer going to be able to fly around the track at my previous 5km pace, but I figured I’d still be able to maintain a decent pace on my daily runs. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Not only was I falling behind my hubby (who seems to be getting faster as I slow down), but it was becoming a challenge to hang with two of my running buddies, whose pace is so quick and energetic that I’ve nicknamed them Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. Aging is no fun. I began to wonder whether it was time to slink slowly into the shadows as a solo jogger, watching my training pace slowly but surely increase twenty, thirty seconds, a minute per mile while I slogged along.  Goodness, at this rate my long runs would take all day!Fortunately, there is another option – start running fast again. I knew it was going to hurt and I would be appalled at how slow my “fast running” would be. I also knew that if I hit the track for 400 meter intervals, I would be so discouraged that I probably wouldn’t return. So the other day I decided to ease back into speed. On a recent morning, I cautiously added a few pick ups to my regular trail run. I wasn’t exactly burning rubber, but I must admit it felt good. For a few seconds here and there I caught a glimpse of my former self, and I liked what I saw. So here’s the new plan: I’m not ready to bite the bullet and return to the track – those days are over. But if I can throw in a fartlek run on the trail a couple of times a week, I might just be able to hold off the aging process for a little while longer – and hang with Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.last_img

Sports Help Women Rise to the Top

first_imgHey ladies, want to work your way up the corporate ladder? Well, get moving – literally. Executives from the EY Women Athletes Business Network and ESPNW have recently decided that women who have sports experience and an active lifestyle are more likely to find career success.Longitude Research opened the door for these new insights through their worldwide survey, “Making the Connection: Women, Sport and Leadership”.Woman_RunnerFour-hundred women in management positions, half of whom hold a position on the board of directors within their companies, responded to the survey and provided support for a strong connection between sports and professional potential. According to the survey, 52 percent of women in the C-suite (CEOs, CFOs, or COOs) played sports in college and many attribute their success to the competitive drive a sports background fosters.The same women also acknowledged that sports play a big role in who they hire and who they turn away. Applicants with a sports background, they say, have just the right amount of motivation, work ethic, ambition, and confidence that employers are looking for.This research seems to confirm what ladies on the athletic track have probably known all their lives. But for every woman who can point to that influential sports background, there are plenty of girls and young women who simply can’t count on the same opportunities. While the results of the survey may seem obvious to some, they could lead to some important changes in the sports world and open new doors for women. “These results underscore how critical it is for girls to have equal access to sport around the world,” Donna de Varona, Lead Advisor to EY’s Women Athletes Business Network and herself an Olympic champion, said. “When they do, the positive results are undeniable.”–Lucie Haneslast_img

Agency rules out VOA transfer to DETR

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img