Sharks will be facing decisions regarding Aaron Dell this summer

first_imgSAN JOSE — Doug Wilson set lofty goals for Timo Meier when he labeled the young forward as one of the answers to Patrick Marleau’s departure prior to the 2017-18 season.At the time, Meier had scored just three goals in 34 NHL games, a far cry from 508 tallies that Marleau racked up during his 19 seasons in teal. Including Meier in any conversation with Marleau seemed like a stretch.Nowadays, the Swiss-born forward is making his general manager look pretty sharp.Meier became the third Shark …last_img

Plants Have Memories

first_imgJune 09, 2010 — Have you ever noticed how plants have an uncanny ability to know, without eyes or brains, when the time has come to bloom?  Even when spring comes early or late in some years, they sense the right time, and out come the flowers.  This is even more remarkable when you consider that the natural environment is a noisy place.  The temperature is rising and falling every day and night.  Storms come and go.  Early warm spells might trick the plant into thinking spring has arrived just before more snow, with disastrous results for the plant.  How does the plant tease out the right signal from all this noise, and remember the overall seasonal trend?  And then, when blooming time has come, how does it tell the rest of the plant to go into action?  Some Japanese scientists have helped get a partial glimpse into the amazing memory system of flowering plants.  It’s all done with controls on gene expression.    They published their results this week in PNAS.1  Using a systems biology approach, they observed the favored lab plant, water cress Arabidopsis thaliana and some of its relatives – but this time not in the laboratory but out in the wild.  This was a rare field experiment where scientists could observe day and night cycles and seasons having their natural effects on gene expression.  They watched several gene levels known to relate to flowering.  “We expected that the gene regulation of FLC orthologs may serve as the mechanism to extract seasonal cues from natural environments, because they are regulated by histone modification, which is often involved in stable cellular memory,” they said.  Histone modifications are like small molecular “tags” that are put on the proteins onto which DNA is wound.  These affect where promoters seek and find genes to transcribe, or repressors bind to genes to prevent expression.    The tags allow a kind of “memory” that can ride out the noisy highs and lows of short-term variations.  Once a certain threshold is reached, the gene can activate.  In this particular case, the scientists found that most of the expression was responsive to temperature for the prior six weeks, but not over periods longer or shorter – indicating a memory for that particular range.  “The accuracy of our model in predicting the gene expression pattern under contrasting temperature regimes in the transplant experiments indicates that such modeling incorporating the molecular bases of flowering time regulation will contribute to predicting plant responses to future climate changes,” they said.  One of the master regulators they studied controls many “downstream” genes that affect flowering.  It acts as a repressor on their activities.  Like a general overseeing a major operation, it commands the other genes, which are prevented from acting till given the signal.    The authors recognized at the end of the paper that this is just one piece of a larger puzzle about plant regulation.  For instance, it appears that some plants have a “chilling requirement” of a certain time period before they will sprout and bloom.  Some perennials need the temperature-dependent gene controlling flowering to switch on at the right time, but then to switch back off as the temperature rises further after flowering, so that they will go back to vegetative growth till the next year.  There must be multiple interacting factors in a complex network of gene expression patterns at play that botanists are only beginning to fathom.  The use of systems biology approaches and observations in natural settings are helping to elucidate the mechanisms involved with a more comprehensive view than was possible before.  The authors had nothing to say about evolution.1.  Aikawa et al, “Robust control of the seasonal expression of the Arabidopsis FLC gene in a fluctuating environment,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print June 7, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914293107.Wonders of nature are all about us, even under our feet, if we will only take a moment to look and learn.  They are best understood by considering their design.  The intricacy and complexity of plants is truly mind boggling.  How did these “robust” systems, that respond magnificently to noisy environments, come to be?  If it were true that they only make sense in the light of evolution, this team would surely have made evolution the centerpiece of their paper.  But notice: they did not even mention it once.  Instead, the language was about patterns, codes, regulation, mechanisms and robustness.  That’s design talk.  Look at this paper.  There wasn’t any religion, and there wasn’t any useless Darwin just-so storytelling, either.  Everyone can read, appreciate, and enjoy it for its elucidation of incredible design in common natural phenomena we would otherwise take for granted.  This understanding might lead to improvement in crops and other benefits for our lives.  Let’s move ahead with observable, testable, understandable, empirical, inspiring, design-based science like this.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Humans Need Most of the Bugs in the World

first_imgA few bad ones give bugs an undeserved bad rap. We couldn’t exist without insects.National Geographic posted an interesting article, “Without Bugs, We Might All Be Dead.” How can that be? Most of us have no idea how many jobs they do for the earth.Though you often need a microscope to see them, insects are “the lever pullers of the world,” says David MacNeal, author of Bugged. They do everything from feeding us to cleaning up waste to generating $57 billion for the U.S. economy alone.The bold subtitle is an eye-catcher: “There are 1.4 billion insects per person on this planet and we need (almost) every one of them.” The nasty ones (mosquitoes, crop pests, houseflies, locust plagues) should not ruin the reputation of the good ones. Do you enjoy watermelon on a hot summer day? Like the taste of almonds? Those wouldn’t be there with bees to pollinate numerous food crops. Ants—those models of hard work—basically own the world and let us borrow a little of it. And think of the inspiring stories of butterflies, like the Monarchs featured in Illustra Media’s film, Metamorphosis.In many countries, from Mexico to Japan, people eat insects directly for food. Some countries use leeches for medicine (in fact, western scientists are re-thinking the yuck factor in that). McNeal explains his change of attitude when he researched insects for his book:Individually, insects are not incredibly interesting, unless you get down on the ground or view them under a microscope to look at their complexity. But they are the invisible force working throughout the world to keep it running.Bugs are also the basis of the food chain for a rich world of large, complex creatures.Avoid teaching children to fear and loathe bugs. Let them see their complexity, and hear about the good they do. They should learn to distinguish those that can cause harm or carry germs from those that help enrich our lives, but not to jump up on a chair, scream and spray and the sight of a harmless little bug. The variety of insects, and the lessons they bring for design and biomimetics, is truly astonishing. Live and let live when you can.(Visited 365 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Online backlash after radio ad calls residential school harms a myth

first_imgSASKATOON – A radio ad airing in Saskatchewan is asking listeners whether Canadians are being told the whole truth about residential schools.The radio spot, which aired recently across multiple private radio stations, was made by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a Winnipeg-based think tank.“We have been told that the residential school system deserves the blame for many of the dysfunctions in Indigenous society — abuse of alcohol and drugs, domestic violence and educational failures can all be blamed on the school system which did not finally end until the 1990s,” veteran prairie broadcaster Roger Currie says in the ad.Currie says it was a myth that residential schools robbed Indigenous kids of their childhood because the average stay was less than five years and the radio piece claimed most Indigenous children never went to the schools.The two-minute-long spot also suggested it wasn’t true that residential schools robbed Indigenous children of their language and culture, and it disputes that the harm of residential schools was passed on through generations.The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard from more than 6,000 witnesses over six years and its final report in 2015 found that residential schools amounted to cultural genocide. Around 150,000 Indigenous children went to residential schools and it’s estimated around 6,000 children died.In 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to former students saying it was a sad chapter in Canada’s history and the policy of assimilation was wrong.Tammy Robert said she was shocked and appalled when she heard the spot on the radio while sitting a restaurant in small-town Saskatchewan.“In my mind, the implication of that piece is that residential school survivors and their families are lying, or at the very least exaggerating and not telling the truth,” said Robert, a communications specialist.Robert, who wrote a blog post about the radio commentary Sunday, said misinformation around residential schools not only exists but is being perpetuated in Saskatchewan.“It’s no secret that there is all kinds of racial tension and there has been forever, but it has been amplified lately,” she said, pointing to a farmer’s recent acquittal in the death of Colten Boushie, an Indigenous man.“I have to question what the point of (the radio commentary) is.”No one from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy agreed to be interviewed about the radio spot.The commentary, posted on the centre’s website Sept. 14, was removed Monday afternoon after an online backlash. It was replaced by an edited print version of the comments and included a link to an essay published by the centre in August titled “Myth versus Evidence: Your Choice” by Mark DeWolf, who has previously written about his time as a non-Indigenous residential school student.The Winnipeg radio station where Currie volunteers issued an apology Monday for any implied connection with the centre’s radio commentary. CJNU said it did not air the piece and the station is investigating.Currie was paid for the voice work but had no editorial control, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy said in a written message. The Frontier Centre has purchased air time for the commentary program which has been running across various stations since 2004. The Centre said stations have zero control of topics or content.But Robert said radio stations should still be aware of what they are airing. She said it’s important to allow for differing opinions but it has to be rooted in fact.“The impacts of residential school, they aren’t up for debate anymore,” she said.— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeglast_img read more

Montreals new Samuel De Champlain bridge fully open as old bridge retires

first_imgMontreal’s new Samuel De Champlain Bridge fully opened to traffic in both directions on Monday, while its predecessor was officially retired after 57 years of service.The bridge’s southbound lanes were opened to traffic at 11 a.m. — one week after it opened to traffic heading north to Montreal across the St. Lawrence.The new 3.4-kilometre span that crosses the Saint Lawrence River and connects the city with its suburbs on the south shore, has three lanes in each direction, a space to accommodate a future light-rail system, plus a path for cyclists and pedestrians set to open later this year.The new bridge was originally to open last December but delays pushed back the opening and added another $235 million to the original $4.2 billion price tag.The elegant, modern structure is a striking contrast to its crumbling counterpart, long one of Canada’s busiest spans.On Monday, a parade of three cars from 1962 — the year of the bridge’s construction — took a last trip across the old span to mark its retirement.Sandra Martel, the interim CEO of the group that manages the bridge, noted the efforts that were made in recent years to keep the disintegrating bridge running.They included an emergency operation to install a 75-tonne superbeam to stabilize one of the bridge’s girders when a crack was discovered in 2013, as well as 24/7 monitoring and countless lane closures and repairs.“With approximately 50 million trips per year and $20 billion in goods passing over it annually, no effort was spared to make sure one of the busiest bridges in Canada remained operational and safe,” she said in a press conference atop the old bridge.Deconstruction work on the old Champlain bridge is set to begin next year. It will take about three years to dismantle at an estimated cost of $400 million.The Canadian Presslast_img read more