A Harvard researcher seeking a model for the earliest cells has created a system that self-assembles from a chemical soup into cell-like structures that grow, move in response to light, replicate, and exhibit signs of rudimentary evolutionary selection.While the system, developed by senior research fellow Juan Pérez-Mercader, mimics what one might conceive of as early cell behavior, a major caveat is that its main component is a molecule not typically found in living things.Pérez-Mercader said that is by design. A physicist by training, Pérez-Mercader initiated the work to follow up on a paper he wrote in 2003 discussing mathematical models for some of the basic properties of life. The recent work, described in the open-access journal Scientific Reports, is an attempt to use chemistry to translate those mathematical models into the real world, he said.“I am trying to build something that mimics life in a completely artificial way,” Pérez-Mercader said.Pérez-Mercader came to Harvard to join the Origins of Life Initiative, a University-wide effort involving researchers across Schools and disciplines. Work ranges from investigations into the still-murky processes by which life first arose to study of exoplanets far from Earth.Life has four main attributes, Pérez-Mercader said. It stores, communicates, uses, and replicates information — as in the data held in DNA. It has metabolism that allows it to make its own parts. It is capable of self-replication. And it is capable of evolving.“Life … does all those things based on chemistry. If there is any chemistry that does all of the above, and is not the known biochemistry, we are searching high and low for [it],” he said.The ability to separate from the surrounding environment is a key component of any living system, Pérez-Mercader said. This allows the chemistry of life to occur in an encapsulated structure, which keeps it from diffusing into the surrounding environment. The work of other researchers in this area has included creating rudimentary cells via fat molecules, which are used in cell-building by living things. Pérez-Mercader sought to strip the process to its essentials to better understand the basics.“You do need to have something that generates that compartmentalization. So we said: ‘Can we build the compartment in a simple way?’” Pérez-Mercader said.To create the system, Pérez-Mercader worked with Anders Albertsen, an associate of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Jan Szymanski, a former postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, to create a chemical soup made up of 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate. They added ruthenium, a light-sensitive metal, to make the molecule respond to light. The modified molecule tends to link with others into long repeating chains called polymers, with one end repelling water and the other attracting it. That interaction with water causes the polymers to line up, and ultimately form vesicles.The system is activated by blue light. Over the course of several hours of exposure, the monomers link together to form polymers, and the polymers line up to form spherical vesicles, with some approaching the size of natural cells. They grow due to osmosis until they pop and then begin growing again.“By five hours the mixture changes,” Pérez-Mercader said. “By six hours it becomes turbid. Out of the homogenous mixture develop these containers. The containers implode and grow again, they begin to do these very interesting things.”The regenerative behavior is what led Pérez-Mercader to the description “phoenix vesicles,” after the mythical bird that burned up in its nest and was born again.In addition to the ability to form spontaneously and replicate, the vesicles are attracted to light, and tend to cluster near the light source. Over time, larger vesicles dominate the population, Pérez-Mercader said, indicating that a form of selection is at work.Aside from any potential lessons about early life, Pérez-Mercader said the findings could be useful in creating a self-assembling delivery system in industry. He said he plans to continue the work with more complex vesicles and include some active chemistry in their interior.“The implications for the origins of life to me are very interesting, though they still need to be explored,” he said.
The school year has begun, and with it, schools are experiencing an influx of dirt, germs and pests. On Aug. 23, the University of Georgia Structural Pest Management Program (SPM) hosted a School Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Workshop intended to help pest control operators that manage schools in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.The workshop began with presentations from Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) representatives and UGA entomologists. The presentations topics included IPM basics, pesticide regulations, Environmental Protection Agency updates, inspection tips and insect identification.“The rules of the Georgia Structural Pest Control Act establish requirements to reduce pesticide exposure risk in Georgia schools and child daycare facilities and reduce the impact of pests and pesticides on the health and well-being of children,” said Nancy Collier, outreach and special project coordinator at the GDA. “The school IPM workshop includes discussions about what the regulations require and how to comply with the regulations. It provides participants an opportunity to engage in dialogue and network with GDA staff and others in the regulated community.”The attendees practiced hands-on insect identification in the SPM insect identification lab and Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center in Griffin, Georgia. This portion of the training highlights the importance of identifying the larval and adult stages of the most common pests found in schools.“We offer these workshops to allow pest control operators to receive the most up-to-date training from multiple experts,” said Dan Suiter, the UGA entomologist who coordinates the workshops. “We are the only program that highlights insect identification in an active learning environment.”Georgia pest control operators received five Household Pest Control (HPC) credits. Alabama operators received ten HPC; Household Pest Control/Branch Supervisor (HPB); or Industrial, Institutional, Household Pest Control/Custodial (IIHC) points. South Carolina operators received one Core and four Category 7A credits. Tennessee operators received five C07, C08, C10 and C12 points. For more information on upcoming IPM workshops, visit www.gabugs.uga.edu or call Suiter at 770-233-6114.
Governor Announces Plan to Merge Departments to Form New Department ofLaborGinevan to Retire, McDonald to Head DET & Merger Effort, Terrill will Moveto AOTMontpelier, Vt.- The Douglas administration is proposing to merge theDepartment of Employment and Training (DET) and the Department of Laborand Industry (DLI) to create a single Department of Labor, Governor JimDouglas has announced.Current DET Commissioner Anne Ginevan, however, is retiring; the effectivedate of her departure is still to be determined. Ginevan, 63, and aresident of Middlebury, is the second direct appointee to step down at theend of the Governor’s first term.”Anne is a proven administrator, has done a great job working tostrengthen our network of job training and education programs and has astrong understanding of government affairs and the legislative process.She has been a valuable member of our team and will be missed.” Douglassaid.”The next step is for us to move forward with our plan to merge theDepartment of Employment and Training with the Department of Labor andIndustry to create a one-stop-shopping model for job training, workforcedevelopment, and responsible labor and industry policy,” Douglas added.”Empowering Vermonters with the skills that they need to succeed in the21st Century economy is a central component of my job creation strategy.”Governor Douglas will appoint current Agency of Transportation SecretaryPatricia McDonald, 61, of Berlin, to fill the vacancy at DET.Douglas said McDonald’s public and private sector management experience,and her relationship with key legislators will be important to the successof the merger proposal. “Pat’s banking and human resources managementexperience, coupled with her strong record of government service, make heran excellent choice to lead this effort,” Douglas said.Before working for state government, McDonald worked for CIBA-GEIGYCorporation for 20 years, moving to Vermont in 1989 to take a position asVice President of Human Relations and Regulatory Management at TheMerchant’s Bank. In 1994, McDonald was appointed Commissioner of MotorVehicles and in 2000 became Deputy Commissioner of Education. Prior toher appointment at AOT McDonald served as Commissioner of Personnel.Current Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and CommunityDevelopment Dawn Terrill will be appointed Vermont’s next Secretary ofTransportation. Terrill, 36, is a resident of Colchester.Prior to her appointment as Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Terrill servedas President and CEO of Hill Associates in Colchester, Vermont, a companythat provides education and training to service providers and equipmentmanufacturers in the telecommunications industry.Terrill joined Hill Associates in 1988, holding various managementpositions including those of Chief Financial Officer and Senior VicePresident.Her new agency has the mission of maintaining a transportation system thatallows for the safe movement of people and goods in a cost-effective,environmentally sensitive and timely manner. AOT oversees approximately14,000 miles of roadway, 320 miles of Interstate, over 2,370 miles oftoll-free state highways, 11,210 miles of municipal roads, 13 publictransit system, 16 public use airports, ten state-owned airports, and 623miles of rail, roughly half of which is state-owned.Douglas said he sought someone “who is a proven manager and whounderstands that maintaining and improving our transportationinfrastructure is critical to our job creation strategy. I have everyconfidence in Dawn’s ability to build on the tremendous progress we’vemade in the last two years.”###
Lane Press in South Burlington and Omya in Proctor are the latest Vermont firms to lay off workers. Each stated that the recession has slowed business resulting in a need to reduce payroll.Lane Press laid off 29 in March after laying off 10 in January. This leaves them with about 225 employees. In January, the printer also cut hours and reduced pay for most workers. The company prints high-end glossy magazines, such as college alumni magazines. It stated that clients have been cutting back on frequency of publication, such as going from monthly to bi-monthly, or printing on less expensive paper.Omya said it cut seven workers at its two sites in Vermont and five others in operations outside the state. It employs 63 in Proctor and 145 in Florence. It mines and distributes calcium carbonate as an additive for many products from glossy paper to plastics to antacid tablets.
She has been dubbed the “Goddess of Democracy” and found fans among politicians and actors. There is little doubt that Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow is big in Japan.The 23-year-old’s arrest this week was headline news and lit up social media in Japan, far eclipsing the detention of other high-profile figures under Hong Kong’s new national security law.Media-savvy, telegenic and fluent in Japanese to boot, Chow has managed to cut through the relative apathy with which foreign affairs are sometimes regarded in Japan, winning unprecedented attention for Beijing’s crackdown on her home city. Twitter, tunes and takoyaki Chow’s popularity in Japan stems in large part from a savvy campaign directed at the country, which includes running a Japanese-language Twitter account with more than 470,000 followers and appearing in Japanese media.Her language skills have given her rare unmediated access to the Japanese public, and she has endeared herself to many with her love of anime and J-pop music.Chow was released on bail on Tuesday, and told reporters — in Japanese — that the song “Fukyowaon” by J-pop group Keyakizaka46 was playing in her head while she was detained.She also paid tribute to the support she received from Japan, saying in a YouTube live stream that she “felt Japanese people were cheering for her during the arrest”.Chow is also a fan of Japanese food, even sharing pictures of her failed attempts at the popular octopus ball dish takoyaki.Last year, she made Forbes Japan’s list of the 50 most influential social media accounts in the country, alongside a group of mostly Japanese celebrities and public figures.For all her popularity, it is unclear if Chow has had much influence on Japanese government policy.Chief spokesman Yoshihide Suga has made no specific comment on her arrest, though the government has expressed more general concern over the application of the national security law, which outlaws subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion in the semi-autonomous city.Japan had been in the process of rehabilitating ties with Beijing, with Chinese President Xi Jinping previously scheduled to make a state visit this year to cement the warming relations.But the visit has been delayed, seemingly indefinitely, and while the government has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the decision, there has been growing discomfort among some Japanese lawmakers about the country’s relationship with Beijing. Topics : After her arrest this week, the Japanese hashtags “#FreeAgnes” and “#I protest against the arrest of Agnes Chow” quickly went viral, with public figures from across the country’s political spectrum, as well as writers and actors, tweeting their support.Veteran ruling party lawmaker Akihisa Nagashima posted a string of tweets on the arrest, saying Chow had “spent her entire youth for the freedom and democracy of Hong Kong”.Opposition lawmaker Renho, who uses one name, actress Sayaka Akimoto and sports writer Hirotada Ototake were among others who hailed the activist and condemned her arrest.”She’s young but she’s brave,” one Twitter user wrote, with many praising Chow’s Japanese language ability.
Under EU legislation, investment funds where the asset owner solely holds the risk, and assets are investment spread over numerous securities, are exempt from VAT for administration and investment services.ATP and PensionDanmark began challenging the Skatteministeriet in 1992 on the basis the pure-DC funds it operates match the requirement.After disputed rulings and appeals from both side over 22 years, the ECJ ruled all pure-DC funds in the EU should be exempt from tax, causing alterations to tax law in Denmark and other DC markets, such as the UK.PensionDanmark CFO Anders Brunn said: “Today, we are both pleased and relieved it has literally paid off to continue this case for so many years.“More importantly, this will benefit our members through even lower administration fees.”The decision in March last year was a landmark ruling for the European DC industry, with the ECJ agreeing DC funds should receive identical tax treatments as some investment funds.In its ruling, the ECJ said member states should exempt VAT on DC funds without prejudice, although after proving they met risk-bearing criteria.It listed the following charges to be exempt: “Transactions, including negotiation, concerning deposit and current accounts, payments, transfers, debts, cheques and other negotiable instruments, but excluding debt collection and factoring and management of special investment funds as defined by member states.”However, other VAT compensation disagreements remain in Europe.Dutch engineering firm PPG challenged its tax authority regarding VAT paid on investment costs for the defined benefit (DB) pension scheme it sponsors.The ECJ ruled in its favour, agreeing pension schemes were an employer responsibility, and that investment and administration costs incurred were business costs and thus VAT exempt.The UK’s tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), began re-thinking its stance on VAT for pension funds after the ATP and PPG victories.It previously revealed interpretations that potentially increased tax liability for sponsors before retreating after significant opposition and pressure.A separate case brought by the UK Wheels Common investment fund and the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) against HMRC failed in the ECJ on the basis DB schemes did not share enough characteristics with SIVs to be VAT-exempt. PensionDanmark has received more than DKK200m (€26m) in value-added tax (VAT) compensation after its victory over the Danish government in the European Court of Justice (ECJ).The DKK170bn labour market pension fund argued that defined contribution (DC) schemes shared enough characteristics with special investment vehicles (SIV) to be exempt from VAT charges on administration and investment management services, counter to the view of the Danish tax authority (Skatteministeriet).The ECJ ruled in PensionDanmark’s favour, with the tax authority now settling with the scheme to the tune of DKK200m plus interest.ATP took the legal case on behalf of PensionDanmark as it believed it should not be charging its client VAT for services.
Siemens has awarded offshore services provider NDE Offshore AB with a contract to carry out structural and subsea inspections on four HVDC platforms in the German North Sea.The contract covers visual inspections and multibeam surveys on BorWin II, HelWin I, HelWin II and SylWin I.NDE Offshore will use the vessel Edda Fonn for the project.The inspections will be performed using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).The grid connections are owned by German-Dutch transmission grid operator TenneT.
The world’s top anti-terrorism forces have gathered in Jordan to showcase their skills. They include teams from China and the United States.
Hanover, IN —Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating an off-road vehicle (ORV) accident that claimed the life of the operator.Sunday evening officers were dispatched to the 7000 block of South River Bottom Road in Hanover, in Jefferson County. Cory Garver, 35, of Madison, was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Jefferson County coroner.Initial investigation determined Garver was operating his side-by-side ORV north on River Bottom Road when he came to a curve. Tire marks indicated the ORV was braking before the curve and continued off the roadway where the vehicle turned sideways, flipped and struck a tree. Garver was wearing a seat belt, but not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
“I’ve never bullied him to get to this stage. We have eased him back to get where we are, and he has a number of options now including at Haydock over an extra mile, and the Bobbyjo back here. “Davy (Russell) liked him, and he should improve from that. However, the ground is the key and it probably won’t last like that for much longer.” Pat Fahy expects Morning Assembly to make plenty of progress after finishing a narrow second on his return from a long lay-off at Fairyhouse on Saturday. Having his first run since April 2014, Morning Assembly was beaten just a head in a rated chase, leaving Fahy to consider the next target for his Grade One-placed chaser. Fahy said: “I’m extremely happy with that. I felt coming here if he was involved over the last few fences I’d be happy, but to battle back the way he did was great. Press Association