First News
Volume:7, Number:34
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LIVING ETCETERA
THIS WEEK

50,000 Years Old Weird Cave Life Found in Mexico

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In a Mexican cave system so beautiful and hot that it is called both Fairyland and hell, scientists have discovered life trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old. The bizarre and ancient microbes were found dormant in caves in Naica, Mexico, and were able to exist by living on minerals such as iron and manganese, said Penelope Boston, head of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. The life forms, 40 different strains of microbes and even some viruses, are so weird that their nearest relatives are still 10 percent different genetically. That makes their closest relative still pretty far away, about as far away as humans are from mushrooms, Boston said.

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Dopamine in Brain Linked to Social Bonding

In a first, researchers have found that neurotransmitter dopamine – a chemical that acts in various brain systems to spark the motivation necessary to work for a reward – was involved in human bonding. In the research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a researcher studied 19 mother-infant pairs and found that the results had important implications for therapies addressing disorders of the dopamine system. Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University psychology and her team found that social affiliation is a potent stimulator of dopamine. This link implies that strong social relationships have the potential to improve your outcome if you have a disease, such as depression, where dopamine is compromised.

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Global Arms Trade Reaches Highest Point Since Cold War Era

The global transfer of major weapons systems rose over the past five years to the highest volume since the end of the cold war as the Middle East nearly doubled its imports, according to an annual report on arms sales. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on February 20 that more weapons were delivered between 2012 and 2016 than any other five-year period since 1990. Saudi Arabia, which leads a military intervention in Yemen that has cost hundreds of civilian lives, was the world’s second largest importer after India, increasing its intake by 212 percent, mainly from the US and the UK. Asia was the main recipient region in the world as India dwarfed regional rivals, China and Pakistan, by accounting for 13 percent of the global imports.

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UAE’s Ambitious Plan to Build a New City on Mars

Over the past few decades, oil and gas revenue has helped the UAE develop at a breakneck pace. The country’s latest venture may set new heights in terms of ambition, however. Recently, at the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, the UAE announced that it was planning to build the first city on Mars by 2117. The project will also create an Emirati scientific team, but that would expand to include international scientists. This won’t be the Gulf state’s first foray into space travel. The UAE launched its own space agency in 2014, which launched partnerships with French and British space agencies the next year. It is planning to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, a project that was described as “on track” just last month.

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Soda, Pizza and Salty Food Up Liver Disease in Kids

Children who regularly intake fructose present in soda, sweetened beverages, pizza and salty food, biscuits and yogurt may be prone to liver disease, warned researchers of Bambino Gesu Hospital in Italy. They claimed that dietary fructose increases serum uric acid concentrations. Both uric acid concentration and fructose consumption may be high in individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) -- a condition where extra fat is accumulated in liver cells in people who drink little or no alcohol. It is estimated to affect up to 30 percent of the general population in Western countries and up to 9.6 percent of all children and 38 percent of obese children across a spectrum of liver disease, including NASH (defined as steatosis, hepatocyte ballooning and inflammation).

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