Tag Archives: Africa

Be warned. If the rise of the robots comes to pass, the apocalypse may be a more squelchy affair than science fiction writers have prepared us for.

Scientists use stem cells from frogs to build first living robots

Researchers foresee myriad benefits for humanity, but also acknowledge ethical issues

Be warned. If the rise of the robots comes to pass, the apocalypse may be a more squelchy affair than science fiction writers have prepared us for.

Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam.

One of the most successful creations has two stumpy legs that propel it along on its “chest”. Another has a hole in the middle that researchers turned into a pouch so it could shimmy around with miniature payloads.

“These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”

Roboticists tend to favour metal and plastic for their strength and durability, but Levin and his colleagues see benefits in making robots from biological tissues. When damaged, living robots can heal their wounds, and once their task is done they fall apart, just as natural organisms decay when they die.

Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls, the scientists say.

“It’s impossible to know what the applications will be for any new technology, so we can really only guess,” said Joshua Bongard, a senior researcher on the team at the University of Vermont.

The robots, which are less than 1mm long, are designed by an “evolutionary algorithm” that runs on a supercomputer. The program starts by generating random 3D configurations of 500 to 1,000 skin and heart cells. Each design is then tested in a virtual environment, to see, for example, how far it moves when the heart cells are set beating. The best performers are used to spawn more designs, which themselves are then put through their paces.

Because heart cells spontaneously contract and relax, they behave like miniature engines that drive the robots along until their energy reserves run out. The cells have enough fuel inside them for the robots to survive for a week to 10 days before keeling over.

The scientists waited for the computer to churn out 100 generations before picking a handful of designs to build in the lab. They used tweezers and cauterising tools to sculpt early-stage skin and heart cells scraped from the embryos of African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis. The source of the cells led the scientists to call their creations “xenobots”.

A xenobot with four limbs

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A xenobot with four ‘limbs’. Photograph: Douglas Blackiston

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how they set the robots loose in dishes of water to keep the frog cells alive. Some crept along in straight lines, while others looped around in circles or teamed up with others as they moved around.

“These are very small, but ultimately the plan is to make them to scale,” said Levin. Xenobots might be built with blood vessels, nervous systems and sensory cells, to form rudimentary eyes. By building them out of mammalian cells, they could live on dry land.

Sam Kriegman, a PhD student on the team at the University of Vermont, acknowledged that the work raised ethical issues, particularly given that future variants could have nervous systems and be selected for cognitive capability, making them more active participants in the world. “What’s important to me is that this is public, so we can have a discussion as a society and policymakers can decide what is the best course of action.”

Traces left by xenobots as they move through a field of particulate matter

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Traces left by xenobots as they move through a field of particulate matter. Photograph: Douglas Blackiston

He was less concerned about xenobots posing any threat to humankind. “If you watch the video, it’s hard to fear that these things are taking over any time soon,” he said.

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But the work aims to achieve more than just the creation of squidgy robots. “The aim is to understand the software of life,” Levin said. “If you think about birth defects, cancer, age-related diseases, all of these things could be solved if we knew how to make biological structures, to have ultimate control over growth and form.”

The research is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s lifelong learning machines programme, which aims to recreate biological learning processes in machines.

Thomas Douglas, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said: “There are interesting ethical questions about the moral status of these xenobots. At what point would they become beings with interests that ought to be protected? I think they’d acquire moral significance only if they included neural tissue that enabled some kind of mental life, such as the ability to experience pain.

“But some are more liberal about moral status. They think that all living creatures have interests that should be given some moral consideration. For these people, difficult questions could arise about whether these xenobots should be classified as living creatures or machines.”

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“The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone,”

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A pride of lions ate a group of poachers after they broke into a game reserve earlier this week in South Africa to hunt rhinoceroses.

Three men were believed to have been eaten alive by the predators sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning after they entered the Sibuya Game Reserve in Kenton-on-Sea to hunt rhinos, Nick Fox, the park’s owner, told Newsweek. After the incident, authorities recovered the remains of their parts, three pairs of shoes, wire cutters, high-powered hunting rifles fitted with silencers and a type of ax that is commonly used by poachers to remove rhino horns.

“The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone,” he said. “There is so little left that they don’t know exactly how many people were killed, we suspect three because we found three sets of shoes and three sets of gloves.” Fox also revealed that rhino poaching groups usually consist of three people.

Although Fox admits that the incident was sad, he also noted that it should send a “message” to other poachers who risk their lives to hunt game in his reserve.

At around 4.30 a.m. on Monday morning, one of Sibuya’s anti-poaching dogs gave her handler a warning that something was wrong. The handler then heard a commotion from the lions but didn’t investigate as there usually is around the early hours. This is when authorities believed the incident occurred.

One day later, one of the reserve’s rangers then stumbled upon the remains of the poachers. After immediately alerting the police, the staffers decided to continue their investigation the next morning as it was getting dark. On Wednesday, Sibuya employees and police found the poachers’ gear scattered through the thick bushes.

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“They [found] an ax and high-powered rifle with a silencer, which is a surefire sign of rhino poachers,” Fox said.

Captain Mali Govender, a police spokesperson, revealed that detectives are investigating the incident to determine exactly how many people were eaten. “We do not know identities, but firearms have been taken by the police and will be sent to the ballistics laboratory to see if they have been used in poaching before,” she said.

The search party also enlisted the assistance of a helicopter to locate any survivors. None have been found at the time this article was published.

Sibuya is one of the most popular game reserves in the South African province of Eastern Cape. The facility boasts 30 square miles of wildlife and contains Africa’s big five game animals: lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalos and leopards.

Due to its prominence and collection of animals, the park has faced multiple break-ins by poachers in recent years. In 2016, three rhinos were shot dead by poachers who broke into the reserve to cut off their horns.

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RELATED ???

ZOO – A NETFLIX SERIES…

Re: Ebola and other life threatening virus’

 

 

 

I do not know how well any of you are following the health news day to day but it has not been good for quite a while now.

I previously wrote a story concerning the 1918 “Flu Pandemic” which as it turns out was biological warfare.  The reason I was

so interested in the subject is that my Grandmother, whom I never had the chance to meet, died in 1919 of the “Flu Pandemic”.

I did not come to be until 1960.  My Father was 18 month’s old when she succumb to this horrible “Flu”.

 

EBOLA has been unleashed, by whatever means – either naturally  or the planned demise of yet another group of people – and “it”,

like the killer virus of 1918 knows no boundary’s.  

There are also other virus’ on the rise which are a real threat as well.  The main three are:

EBOLA Virus

Enterovirus 68

Marbergs Virus

This is a very serious situation and I hope everyone is paying close attention and planning to take appropriate precautions when

deemed necessary.

A “facebook friend” of mine named Moses N. lives in Uganda, Africa.  After not having heard from him for a while I sent him a message

to see how things were.  The reply was:

October 2nd, 6:54am

hi sweelie how are you

STILL ALIVE – DONT FEEL GREAT – WORRYING ABOUT THIS EBOLA THING GOING ON…ITS HERE IN THE US NOW.

stay safe sweet love u so much

THANKS U TOO – WE WILL KEEP IN TOUCH AS LONG AS WE CAN.. SEND ME MESS EACH DAY.

i will dia

Friday 2:42pm

Hey, just checking on you over there….Ebola??? It’s not looking good from any side. Other stuff going on too. Please stay safe – take care of yourself and as many as you can….Peace/Luv

9 hours ago

hi

THERE you are!

You doing alright over there?

Are YOU SICK????

I saw your status update – please mess me so i know your still with us! Much Love to you and all…

Chat Conversation End

(Mose’s highlighted in yellow)

Note that the last thing he said to me was “hi”… This is NOT his usual way of greeting me as you can see from a previous conversation…

The most heart wrenching was his status which reads: 

Moses Nkangi

11 hrs ·

maberg is now here in uganda.Ebola is on the door knocking banange stop shaking hands to each other (broken english)

I have not gotten any further messages from him and have been watching to see if he is o.k.

 

So there it is, straight from Uganda to me – Marberg is there and so is Ebola – what next?

Please join me in saying a prayer to your creator for these people in their (and our) hour of need.

 

DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY!     IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

 

EBOLA on Wikipedia

Marbergs on Wikipedia

Enterovirus68 on Wikipedia

1918 Flu Pandemic on Wikipedia

Now look at these related articles:

2002 American Medical Association study concludes Ebola and Marberg best bio-weapons choice for use against populace

Mathematics of the Ebola outbreak reveal near-impossibility of global containment: it’s already too late

Have ‘FEMA coffins’ been stockpiled to meet CDC requirements for disposing of bodies during a pandemic?

The man who discovered Ebola on why this epidemic spiraled out of control

Ebola outbreak may already be uncontrollable; Monsanto invests in Ebola treatment drug company as pandemic spreads

 

Be aware and be prepared!  What is actually going on is usually not reported on the evening news!

 

smk.

The Ebola Conspiracy Theory Chronicles By Zora Neale Firston

New_World_Order__The_Conspiracy_to_Rule_Your_Mind__FREE_MOVIE__120830

August 5, 2014 – I’m sure many of you have stumbled across a couple of these “Ebola Conspiracy Theory” conversations floating around African Diaspora social media circles. We have factions of folks who are just “oh so” suspicious about the recent unsuspecting  Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone & Guinea. Then again with the exception of Guinea we should be cautious in using the word “unsuspecting” in itself with respect to Sierra Leone in that the country had a couple of months to begin preparation when Ebola hit first in Guinea, but were rather relaxed.  Ebola could  probably be ranked as the world’s second deadliest virus secondary to Prion disease.  Nevertheless, there are people who believe that Ebola may be some sort of pseudo man-made “Western” created virus concocted in some mysterious Dr. Frankenstein Lab located in the core of the earth’s crust for the purpose of killing off African people. And for this I would like to give the longest 60 second side eye known to the history of mankind. I could think of tons of ways to kill off Africans.  Thoughts of food insecurity, contaminated water supplies and warfare come to mind.

Okay! So maybe that description in the previous line is a gross exaggeration of the commentary, but you get the jest. All in all, West Africans in particular seem to be generally mistrustful of catastrophes that occur in our communities as it relates to disease outbreaks (or any thing for that matter) and feel that there is always a major culprit at the end with a pale face. Are such accusations plausible?

Possibly! There are a million and one reasons why Africans should be mistrustful of the World Powers which is in essence an extension of “The Empire”. Thoughts of slavery, brutality and the sadistic acts waged on the people of Africa come to mind.

I mean really? How could this virulent virus that has been basically linked to remote isolated villages in the Republic of Congo make it’s way all the way to countries on the west coast of Africa? Sidebar: The actually first outbreak of Ebola was noted in Sudan dating back to the late 70′s. Then of course the recent revelation of a “secret serum” tested on two missionary workers who are conveniently un-African do not serve as any consolation prize in easing people’s suspicious. Thoughts of biological weaponry and experimental testing on unsuspecting communities of poor disenfranchised African populations come to mind as well. Well as cruel as it may sound, pharmaceutical companies are in the business of business.

So what’s the 60 second side eye for? The side eye was meant for those of us who believe that “The Empire” needs to operate discretely to conspire against Africans any-more. Is it really any big secret that the world cares nothing for Africa at large?  I doubt that “The Powers” that be really need to go to great lengths to conspire against “us” at this point in time and for what?  Conspiring involves planning which involves a great matter of time that people who are so removed from you are not willing to invest in although inaction may still reap the same outcome but by default. African leaders have bought and sold the soul of it’s people ages ago. All Ebola did was simply expose all of the systems of inequality at work which include our so called healthcare infrastructure and the arrogance of our leaders.

In addition, why do Africans always expect the Western World to come save us?  On one end, many of you despise with a passion  all of the attributes the “West” has to offer. However, when the ish hits the fan you want protection from the same folks who conspire against you as you claim to begin with in the first place. That idea is absolute madness!  You can’t have it both ways.  Where is Africa’s scientific community and why aren’t governments investing  in Bio-tech?   Thoughts of Cheikh Anta Diop come to mind!  America may have only given that “secret serum” to their own citizens for a myriad of reasons. Heaven forbid that this “secret serum” be given to  Africans  and then they suffer an allergic reaction that kills. Can you imagine how the “Ebola Conspiracy Theory” would run wild then? Listen! We are the ones we have been waiting for Africa!  If you wait for what is oppressing you to free you then expect to die a thousands deaths!   To be continued…..

Photo courtesy: www.disclosetv.com

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Ebola outbreak prompts nation-wide lockdown in Sierra Leone Likely the largest lockdown in recent history, WHO says

The Associated Press Posted: Sep 19, 2014 9:36 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 19, 2014 7:34 PM ET

More than six million people are currently under lockdown in Sierra Leone, leaving normally bustling markets and streets empty.

Sierra Leone confined its 6 million people to their homes Friday for the next three days as the Ebola-ravaged West African country began what was believed to be the most sweeping lockdown against disease since the Middle Ages.

In a desperate effort to bring the outbreak under control, thousands of health care workers began going house to house in crowded urban neighbourhoods and remote villages, hoping to find and isolate infected people.

President Ernest Bai Koroma urged his countrymen to co-operate.

“The survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean is at stake,” he said Thursday night in an address to the nation.

Health officials said they planned to urge the sick to leave their homes and seek treatment. There was no immediate word on whether people would be forcibly removed, though authorities warned that anyone on the streets during the lockdown without an emergency pass would be subject to arrest.

‘Many of our people have died’

More than 2,600 people have died in West Africa over the past nine months in the biggest outbreak of the virus ever recorded, with Sierra Leone accounting for more than 560 of those deaths.

Many fear the crisis will grow far worse, in part because sick people afraid of dying at treatment centres are hiding in their homes, potentially infecting others.

Sierra Leone Ebola

Police guard a roadblock as Sierra Leone’s government enforces a three-day lockdown on movement of all people in an attempt to fight the Ebola virus in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Friday. (Michael Duff/Associated Press)

However, international experts warned there might not be enough beds for new patients found during the lockdown, which runs through Sunday.

Most people seemed to be taking the order seriously, and there were no immediate reports of resistance.

“It will protect our country from this dangerous virus,” said Ishmail Bangura, a Freetown resident. “Many of our people have died — nurses and doctors, too — so if they ask us to stay home for three days, for me it is not bad.”

Attacks on aid workers, journalists

Across West Africa, health care workers have been attacked by villagers who accused them of spreading Ebola. Some citizens have also violently resisted efforts to quarantine them.

In the latest case of violence against health care workers, six suspects have been arrested in the killings of eight people in Guinea who were on an Ebola education campaign, the Guinean government said Friday.

The victims were attacked by villagers armed with rocks and knives. The dead included three local journalists.

As the lockdown took effect, wooden tables lay empty at the capital’s usually vibrant markets, and only a dog scrounging for food could be seen on one normally crowded street in Freetown.

Amid the heat and frequent power cuts, many residents sat on their front porches, chatting with neighbours.

Ambulances were on standby to bring any sick people to the hospital for isolation. The health care workers also planned to hand out 1.5 million bars of soap and dispense advice on Ebola.

“We hope and pray that when we talk to people they will take it as counselling,” said Rebecca Sesay, a community Ebola education team leader. “That is why we are all out here.”

Largest lockdown in recent history

The World Health Organization said it has no record of any previous nationwide shutdown of this scale and suggested it has not happened since the plague devastated Europe during the Middle Ages.

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Guinea’s Red Cross health workers wear protective suits at an Ebola treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea’s capital city. (Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images)

The closest parallel seems to have been a plague scare in India in 1994, when officials closed off a region around the city of Surat, shutting down schools, offices, movie theatres and banks.

UNICEF said the government campaign provides an opportunity to tell people how to protect themselves.

“If people don’t have access to the right information, we need to bring lifesaving messages to them, where they live, at their doorsteps,” said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF representative in Sierra Leone.

In a statement, the UN children’s agency said the operation needs to be carried out “in a sensitive and respectful manner.”

© The Associated Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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